Head of Federal Housing Finance Agency accused of sexual harassment by former employee

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  • Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, was accused of sexual harassment by a former worker, and his accuser has now gone public. Simone Grimes told Bloomberg News Watt made unwanted advances over two years and said she has recordings. Watt has denied any wrongdoing and said he would remain at his post while the claims are being investigated. Watt has been head of the FHFA since 2014. (Bloomberg News)
  • Beth Killoran is out as Health and Human Services chief information officer. She was transferred to a new role at the agency with the Office of the Surgeon General where she will develop a comprehensive information systems strategic plan for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Ed Simcox, HHS chief technology officer, will take over as acting CIO until a permanent one is named. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration pulled the plug on an acquisition shared service. One of the government’s reverse auction platforms is closing down after five years. GSA announced its tool is not financially viable and will cease to exist by Dec. 31. GSA launched the platform in 2013, but saw minimal use from federal customers. Agencies spent only $249 million on GSA’s platform in 2017 compared to more than $1 billion on a competing vendor’s platform. Experts say GSA’s self-service reverse auction tool didn’t meet customer agency needs or have enough visibility to make it financially worthwhile. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service’s Inspector General said USPS’ over-the-phone customer service needs an upgrade. In 2017, the Postal Service handled 71 million phone calls, but less than 12 million got through to a customer service agent. Only 60 percent of callers gave the automated phone system a positive rating. The IG office projects call volumes will only go up with increased package delivery. (U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General)
  • A federal contractor stepped up its so-called defending democracy program. Nearly every federal employee interacts with Microsoft products daily. Now the company’s Digital Crimes Unit reported carrying out a court order, to take over control of six internet domains connected to the Russian government and behind 84 fake political websites. Microsoft President Brad Smith announced what Microsoft called account-guard, enhanced email domain protection it will offer free to candidates for federal, state and local offices. (Microsoft)
  • Service members and Defense Department employees on temporary duty assignment for 30 days or more will now receive full locality pay. The change started Aug. 13. DoD employees previously received either a flat rate of $144 a day when traveling or partial locality pay based on how long they were assigned to an area. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced legislation that would restrict the president from revoking any more security clearances. Warner introduced the measure as an amendment to the minibus appropriations bill senators are debating this week. It would bar any federal funds from being used to revoke any clearance unless the government follows the procedures outlined in the regulations and executive orders that govern the security clearance system. Senators are voting on amendments to the appropriations bill all week. It includes funding for the departments of Defense, HHS, Labor and Education. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senior enlisted sailors have gotten a chance to serve longer than the maximum limits of their ranks if they sign up for tough duties at sea. Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the Navy’s chief of Naval manpower, personnel, training and education, said the initiative will help it maintain leadership experience and technical acumen as it grows. (Federal News Radio)
  • Three more former Navy officers were indicted in the now infamous Fat Leonard bribery case. Among them, retired Navy Capt. David Haas is charged with using his influence to steer ships to ports controlled by Leonard Francis. Haas is currently a Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinating officer in Hawaii. (WTOP)

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