Internal poll shows FBI employees lack confidence in the bureau’s leadership

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  • FBI employee confidence

    A newly disclosed internal poll of FBI employees has revealed a sharp decline in confidence in the bureau’s senior leadership under Director Christopher Wray. According to analysis of information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by legal blogger Lawfare, FBI employees in Washington, D.C. and at 56 field offices expressed a high esprit de corps about the FBI itself and their work for the bureau. But when asked about their confidence in the vision of the FBI director, the honesty and integrity of senior bureau leaders, or their respect for those leaders, the survey showed a striking drop in confidence from previous years.  A New York Times article said the revelations further undercut President Donald Trump’s explanation why he fired James Comey and replaced him with Wray. The president said the FBI was in turmoil and its agents had lost confidence in Comey. (Lawfare / NY Times)

  • Federal worker rights

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has passed two new pieces of legislation that would reduce due process protections for federal employees facing discipline or dismissal. The Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation (MERIT) Act would give employees only seven days to appeal removal decisions to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Furthermore, if the MSPB doesn’t issue a ruling within 30 days, the agency’s decision is final. The law also extends the probationary period for new hires from one year to two. The other bill, the Merit Systems Protection Board Reauthorization Act, would reduce the evidence agencies need to justify adverse personnel actions and would require federal workers to pay a filing fee to appeal such decisions. (House Oversight Committee)

  • VA accountability

    House lawmakers have accused the Veterans Affairs Department of using the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to target its own employees. VA has denied the charge, saying it sees the new law as a big success. The law was intended to remove federal barriers to firing poor performing employees. But members of both parties on the House Veterans Affairs Committee suggested in a hearing Tuesday that in reality, VA was using the law to unfairly punish rank-and-file employees while protecting senior leaders. Evidence produced showed 15 of the 1,096 people fired by VA this year were from management. (Federal News Radio)

  • VA nursing homes rankings

    The Veterans Affairs Committee has also announced an investigation into care at the VA’s 133 nursing homes, after learning the agency gave almost half of them the lowest possible score in secret, internal rankings. The probe was instigated by results of a Boston Globe and USA TODAY investigation that showed 60 VA nursing homes  rated only one out of five stars for quality last year in the agency’s own ranking system. Internal documents also revealed that patients in more than two-thirds of VA nursing homes were more likely to suffer pain and serious bedsores than their private sector counterparts. More generally, VA nursing homes scored worse than private nursing homes on a majority of key quality indicators. (Boston Globe)

  •  New VA appointee

    VA officials have chosen Richard Stone to take the position of executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) later this week. Stone previously served as VHA’s principal deputy undersecretary. Stone is the third official in a year-and-a-half to head up the health system in an acting capacity. VHA has been without a permanent undersecretary for most of the Trump Administration. (Military Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • Secret calendars

    A top Democratic lawmaker said he will seek to bar the administator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of the Department of the Interior from using secret calendars to conceal detail of meetings, phone calls, and travel from the public. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has introduced an amendment to a must-pass EPA and Interior spending bill that would block Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke managing multiple calendars. Beyer cited actions by ousted EPA administrator Scott Pruitt for prompting the amendment by intentionally withholding information about his public schedule. Beyer said there was evidence Zinke may have engaged in similar deception.   (Rep. Beyer)

  • EIS extensions

    A top acquisition official with the General Services Administration (GSA) said agencies concerned about meeting thte 2020 deadline for moving to the new Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) contract may get extra time to do so. Assistant Commission Kay Ely from GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service said GSA may offer extensions. The 15-year, $50 billion government-wide contract provides federal agencies with telecommunications, infrastructure, and information technology services. The last time agencies moved to a government-wide telecom contract, extensions pushed back implementation by three years and cost nearly $400 million more than expected. (Federal News Radio)

  • NSF, Interior test robotic paper pushers

    The Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation (O-FIT) has announced it will work with the Interior Department and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring robotics process automation (RPA) to those agency’s financial systems. NSF will use RPA to improve its intergovernmental transactions. Interior will apply bots to improve its electronic invoice processing. O-FIT chose Interior and NSF to participate in the RPA pilots after receiving 10 ideas from six agencies. O-FIT ran its own robotics process automation pilot and one on blockchain over the past year. (Federal News Radio)

  • Feds Feed Families 2018

    The Agriculture Department has kicked-off the government’s annual food drive. USDA says the goal for Feds Feed Families 2018 is for employees to donate more than 17.9 million pounds of food. That figure would break last year’s record-setting collection. Donations made in the Washington D.C. area will go to food banks through a partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes them through its network of more than 500 partner organizations. The food drive goes through October 18th. (USDA)

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