VA chief counsel bent ethics rules to get wife hired

In today's Federal Newscast, a new inspector general report finds a chief counsel in Veterans Affairs' Office of General Counsel hatched a scheme to get his wif...

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  • A chief counsel in the Veterans Affairs Department’s Office of General Counsel is accused of having bent ethics rules to get his wife hired. An inspector general report says Robert Fleck, chief counsel of the Procurement Law Group within OGC, used his influence to secure a position for his wife in the office’s Contract Litigation Team, a team which he managed. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)
  • The Office of Personnel Management continues to build an experienced team. The White House named Mike Dovilla as the OPM chief of staff. Dovilla previously served in the Bush administrations as the inaugural executive director of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council. He also was a principal adviser to former Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and a Presidential Management Intern at the State Department. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) issued an apology for failing to protect female employees who say her former chief of staff harassed them. The three-term Democrat also said she has repaid the $5,000 in severance issued to him. Esty said she has hired new senior staff and instituted mandatory harassment training. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is cutting back on red tape. After Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ordered the service to get rid of unneeded and outdated instructions, she said the service has rescinded at least 100 instructions. Wilson said the Air Force is also trying to simplify the language in its instructions to airmen. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Federal Communications Commission is concerned about whether companies are using fake technology or building unknown vulnerabilities into the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure. The FCC will vote on a proposed rule on April 17 that it hopes will better protect telecommunications companies’ supply chains. The proposal would bar the use of money from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a national security threat to U.S. communications networks or the communications supply chain. (Federal Communications Commission)
  • Veterans organizations said they feared the Veterans Affairs Department would lose momentum after a year of many changes. Many organizations are praising David Shulkin for several legislative and other reforms he brought to the VA during his time as secretary. The American Legion said Shulkin’s decision on the electronic health record, the new GI Bill and appeals modernization would define his legacy. One former VA chief information officer downsized the likelihood of the department achieving success on the EHR project with Shulkin’s firing. (Federal News Radio)
  • David Shulkin and the White House are at odds over whether the former Veterans Affairs Department secretary resigned or was fired. The White House said yesterday that Shulkin resigned after President Donald Trump’s tweet announced his successor. Shulkin said he never offered a resignation. While it may seem like a technical distinction, it could have significant implications for Trump’s appointment of an interim VA secretary, Robert Wilkie. According to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the president can only appoint an acting official to replace a Senate-confirmed one if that official “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” (Federal News Radio)
  • One congressman wants to be able to set up offices within Veterans Affairs Department facilities. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) introduced the Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act. He said members of Congress should be able to ask VA for permission to set up an office directly inside a VA facility, so lawmakers can help constituents with veterans questions. (Rep. Brian Mast)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is looking to build new software in small increments, very, very small. VA plans to launch a program to pay what it calls micro-consultants to modernize its systems. Bloomberg Government reports, the micro-consultants will be able to earn up to $10,000 per assignment. But Bloomberg estimated the program could be worth $100 million. Phase one is what VA calls the Lighthouse, a cloud platform to coordinate all the bits and pieces. (Bloomberg Government)

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