VA Secretary Wilkie hampers unions’ use of collective bargaining rights

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  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Wilkie has ruled that unions can no longer use collective bargaining rights when negotiating issues tied to professional conduct and patient care by VA providers. He’s rescinding a Memorandum of Understanding VA entered into in 2010 with several unions, including National Nurses United and the National Association of Government Employees. VA said this is to refocus its providers’ commitment to veterans’ care and VA’s ability to deliver that care. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said he’ll begin making decisions about senior executive personnel actions, reassignments, relocations and promotions himself. The authority to make those decisions previously sat with the chief of staff. VA said Wilkie temporarily decided to rescind those authorities while he took stock of what he wanted to delegate and what he wanted to handle on his own. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service has made  it harder for taxpayers to get their questions answered in-person. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said the agency closed nine taxpayer assistance centers across the country in 2018. Lawmakers are concerned by these closures. Earlier this year, Congress ordered the IRS to conduct a study on tax centers’ impact. The study also focused on how the agency served rural communities, the elderly and low-income populations. (National Taxpayer Advocate)
  • Spending on older technology continues to go in the wrong direction. Agencies are allocating more and more money to operate and maintain outdated technology systems. IDC Government Insights found spending on legacy systems has increased by 13 percent  over the last five years alone. IDC predicted civilian agencies would spend $52 billion on technology by the time fiscal 2018 ends. And 78.9 percent of that spending will go toward improving and maintaining legacy systems. IDC said this uptick means agencies need to relieve themselves of the burdens of older IT systems now more than ever. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department is updating its cybersecurity approach. Bloomberg Government reported, DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Travis laid out what this new approach will entail at an industry day hosted by the National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD) Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Changes include greater centralization of DHS’ cybersecurity authority, more reliance on public-private partnerships, and federal contractors being asked to accept more intrusive security requirements. (Bloomberg Government)
  • The Navy said it’s all-but-finished with its transition to Windows 10. After missing several Defense Department and Navy deadlines, the Navy said the vast majority of the computers on its networks have gotten the upgrade. Those that haven’t have been quarantined from Navy networks — there are about 4,000 of those. The service also made exceptions for some “embarkable” computers and those supporting tactical operations. Officials plan to host a Windows 10 “lessons learned” meeting later this week in hopes of making future IT upgrades less disruptive. (Navy)
  • The Pentagon has a long road ahead if it wants to set up a space force by 2020. Former Army Secretary Eric Fanning said the Defense Department must take into account everything from office space to the number of senior officers it needs. The space force will also need congressional approval before it becomes a reality. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan group of senators wants the Army to send them a plan to address lead poisoning on bases. At least five bases reported poisoning from lead-based paint in onbase housing. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), David Purdue (R-Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said they wanted to briefed as soon as possible on a long-term mitigation plan. (Sen. Tim Kaine)
  • The Office of Personnel Management updated the online donation system this year for the 2018 Combined Federal Campaign. OPM Director Jeff Pon said the agency worked with the central campaign administrator to make them. The agency launched the new donation system with the Give Back Foundation last year. Federal employees can only use this system to make their donations to the campaign online again this year. This year’s CFC will run from Sept. 10 through Jan. 11. Peace Corps Director Josephine Olsen will be the CFC’s chairwoman. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)

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