Army tests thousands of military homes for lead poisoning dangers

In today's Federal Newscast, a new report from Reuters shows over 1,000 small children living in base housing had elevated levels of lead in blood tests.

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  • The Army has drafted plans to test 40,000 homes on military bases for lead poisoning dangers. The official orders have yet to be signed, but are in response to reporting by the news agency Reuters, which showed that more than 1,000 small children living in base housing had elevated levels of lead in blood tests. The testing program would cost the Army an estimated $386 million, and would target installation housing built before 1978. (Reuters)
  • The General Services Administration and its inspector general are at odds over an IG report on the fate of the FBI headquarters. The IG said GSA Administrator Emily Murphy failed to tell Congress she met with White House officials about the decision to keep the FBI in D.C. But GSA says the OIG left out key meetings with the FBI dating back to fall 2017. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) called for new hearings following the IG report. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal unions are telling local leaders to begin immediately working with agency management to revoke the provisions of the president’s executive orders on collective bargaining, official time and employee removals. A federal district judge recently declared the EO’s invalid. Unions say they haven’t heard from the government about its plans to issue guidance on how agencies should approach the provisions they already implemented. The Trump administration says it’s disappointed in the court’s ruling. The Justice Department says it’s considering next steps. (Federal News Radio)
  • Less than two years out from the 2020 count, the Census Bureau could do more to reach hard-to-count groups. The Government Accountability Office found lower unemployment could make it harder for Census to recruit decennial workers. Census plans to hire nearly twice as many partnership specialists than it had planned for the 2010 count to recruit partner organizations in local communities. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Lawmakers asked the Homeland Security Department to reform a key cybersecurity sharing program. Four leading lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee told the Homeland Security Department to make two major changes to its Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) program. First DHS should transition the program from a contract-based funding model to a dedicated line item in the annual budget. The committee found the CVE program received inconsistent funding between 2012 and 2016, causing officials to focus too much on short-term needs. Second, the committee wants DHS and its partner MITRE to review the program’s performance biennially. (House Energy and Commerce Committee)
  • The chief architect brought into the Veterans Affairs Department to help implement its electronic health records abruptly resigned. Genevieve Morris, VA’s chief health information officer, announced her plans to leave immediately. Morris said VA’s leadership intends to take the EHR modernization effort in a different direction. Morris didn’t say more about the direction the program is heading or why she is unhappy with VA’s decisions. (Twitter)
  • President Donald Trump nominated James Byrne to be the Veterans Affairs Department’s acting deputy secretary. Byrne currently serves as general counsel. He was associate general counsel and chief privacy officer for Lockheed Martin before coming to VA. The role of deputy secretary has been open since Tom Bowman retired from government earlier this year. (White House)
  • The White House moved to squash what it calls low value compliance activities that waste agency time. New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget urged agencies to streamline their management practices, with an eye on outdated or unnecessary compliance regulations. It cited an earlier memo that rescinded 59 old rules, such as a 1997 memo on capital planning or rules related to the year 2000 conversion. OMB ordered agencies to establish a point person to ride herd on rules cutbacks. (White House)
  • The Marine Corps changed its hazard duty pay to coincide with years of service rather than rank. The change may cause a small drop in monthly payments to some Marine officers. Marine divers, however, will be paid a flat hazard pay of $215 a month. (Marines)

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