SEA reminds members of role in stopping harassment at agencies

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  • The Senior Executives Association wants its members to think about their roles in leadership positions, and play an active part in quickly stopping harassment at their agencies. SEA released a position statement on sexual harassment prevention, reminding senior executives, people in positions of power often fail to take quick action to stop harassment and they should stand up for their employees who speak out. SEA urged agencies to publicly acknowledge employees who do report workplace harassment. (Senior Executives Association)
  • Participants in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will pay an average of 1.5 percent more toward their insurance premiums next year. The average 1.5 percent increase is well below last year’s 6.1 percent increase for enrollees in 2018. Open season runs from Nov. 12 through Dec. 10 this year. The Office of Personnel Management announced the new premium rates for 2019 ahead of the upcoming open season. (Federal News Radio)
  • Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske assured the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he’s trying to turn TSA around. He detailed changes at the agency meant to address years of failing morale, whistleblower retaliation, harassment and other misconduct on the part of executives. The committee demanded the release of all documents subpoenaed as part of the investigation. The documents in question have been withheld or redacted by TSA and the Homeland Security Department of General Counsel. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • Two lawmakers want to codify key federal technology positions. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) proposed to make the federal chief information officer position permanent and remove the old designation of administrator of e-government and IT. The chairman and ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on IT introduced the Federal CIO Authorization Act. Along with changing the name of the federal CIO’s office, the bill would make the federal CIO and federal chief information security officer positions presidentially appointed, change the reporting structure of both, and require the Federal CIO to submit a proposal to Congress for consolidating and streamlining IT governmentwide. (Rep. Will Hurd)
  • Two local lawmakers want the Agriculture Department’s inspector general to investigate the agency’s decision to relocate two bureaus outside the Washington D.C. area. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) wrote to Phyllis Fong, the USDA IG, asking her to review the legality, the rationale and the process used to develop the proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Hoyer and Holmes Norton said USDA may have incorrectly determined they have the authority to sign long-term lease agreements without additional budget authority. (Rep. Steny Hoyer)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee cleared the first hurdle in authorizing the Trump administration’s planned government reorganization. The committee passed the Reforming Government Act, which sets up a process for the Office of Management and Budget to propose a reorganization plan,  and have the Senate pass it with 51-vote majority. Democrats agreed to the 51-vote majority, on the condition that five senators from each party must serve as co-sponsors of the reorganization. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service fought to stay one step ahead of fraudsters that use stolen taxpayer credentials to file tax returns. But the agency’s chief privacy officer said a rise in data breaches has made it harder. The Government Accountability Office found fraudsters tried to claim more than $12 billion in fake tax returns in 2016. Of that sum, the IRS paid out at least $1.6 billion in tax returns. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department published its analysis of veteran suicide data from 2005-2016. The data is intended to improve VA’s suicide prevention program. It showed veteran suicides decreased slightly from 2015-2016, although the rate among veterans 18 to 34 continues to rise. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the data is being used to help build support networks and inform interventions. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • All five of the Navy’s systems commands received a $100 million ceiling for other transaction authority agreements. Assistant Navy Secretary for Research Development and Acquisition James Geurts said he hopes it will let the commands find companies outside of traditional defense realms. Geurts said he was working with the commands to ensure proper oversight of the agreements. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy told its commands they are responsible for keeping their sailors deployable. Commands will track sailors’ readiness through assessment managers. The crackdown on nondeployable sailors is part of a military-wide effort to kick out troops who have been nondeployable for a year or more. The Defense Department gave the services until October to put a policy for identifying nondeployble troops in effect. (Navy)
  • The Navy signed a new contract for commercial cloud computing services. It’s worth up to $96 million over the next five years. The Navy made the award in the form of a blanket purchase agreement to General Dynamics Information Technology. The long-awaited enterprise cloud contract will let seven Navy organizations the service has designated as its cloud “brokers” buy cloud services on an as-needed basis, and there’s no guarantee the Navy will spend the full amount. Although GDIT won the BPA, it will mainly deliver cloud services from Amazon and Microsoft’s Azure. (Federal News Radio)

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