Lawsuit against VA claims Trump violated Federal Vacancies Act with Wilkie appointment

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  • Two organizations are suing the Veterans Affairs Department over the White House’s decision to appoint Defense Undersecretary Robert Wilkie to be acting VA secretary, over Deputy VA Secretary Tom Bowman. Democracy Forward and Vote Vets filed the lawsuit that says President Donald Trump violated the Federal Vacancies Act in failing to appoint the deputy to serve in an interim basis after removing David Shulkin as VA director. (Vote Vets)
  • If you’re having difficulty getting on, don’t panic. The General Services Administration said the government’s procurement website has moved to a new hosting platform and those with strict IT security rules may experience some challenges. GSA said most users will not notice a difference with the new platform. GSA said vendors or others who obtain data through File Transfer Protocol or FTP, may have to whitelist the new IP address. (General Services Administration)
  • Lawmakers want an update on how agencies are implementing the IT modernization law. A group of four bipartisan lawmakers sent letters to all 24 civilian CFO Act agencies asking five questions about how they are implementing the Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act). Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Robyn Kelly (D-Ill.) want details from each agency about their plans to create working capital funds, which the MGT Act authorizes. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers asked whether each agency plans to set up a working capital fund, and if so, will the chief information officer be in charge of the fund. Agencies also must tell the committee how they plan to use the money in the fund specifically for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • New Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon wants to make big changes to the current civil service system. Pon said he has four main ways he can push through new policy: legislation, executive order, OPM authority or an agency-specific authority. Legislation will be the toughest avenue for new civil service changes. But Pon said the senators he’s spoken with so far have been receptive. Changes to federal employee compensation, retirement, veterans preference and the Senior Executive Service are all on the table. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employees will begin to see the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey in their inboxes this week. Office of Personnel Management Director Jeffrey Pon said his agency is sending the survey out on a rolling basis. Employees will also have the chance to take a follow-on pilot survey to test out new topics and other improvements. Pon said employees should know that agencies actively collect their feedback from the survey and will use it to inform workforce policies and other programs. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • A Trump nominee said he would retire rather than face Senate hearings. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will have to go a while longer without a confirmed director. Acting Director Thomas Homan said he will retire this summer, adding he wants to focus on his family. But he was appointed by President Donald Trump back in January 2017. A hard-liner on immigration, Homan oversaw a 40 percent rise in deportations. He was expected to face tough questions in the Senate. (Federal News Radio)
  • The military’s Transition Assistance Program is garnering more attention from Congress. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) wants restructure TAP to create specific career oriented tracks that best suit an individual service member’s plans after leaving the military. His bill would require troops to take part in counseling a year before separating. The bill would also require an independent auditor to review the program’s curriculum and its long-term outcomes. Arrington’s bill is similar to provisions that members of the House Armed Service Committee are considering for the 2019 defense authorization act. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • The Air Force is trying to figure out how it can make its software more agile. Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Will Roper said software is the service’s number one problem. Roper said he can see a future war in which the military will need to update its software daily. (Federal News Radio)
  • Can you build a drone that can go faster than a car? The Air Force may want you to be able to do just that. It’s taking ideas from small startup companies to better its drone technology. The service met with 10 startups earlier this week to see what kind of new ideas are coming out of the private sector. The companies pitched products that included nanotechnology paint that can block electric signals and drones that can fly up to 50 miles per hour. Presentations had to prove they wouldn’t rely solely on government funds and that a large private market existed for the products.

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