US soldier gets 11+ years in prison for building, detonating chemical weapon

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  • A U.S. soldier was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for building and detonating a chemical weapon near Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Justice Department said Ryan Taylor was found by other soldiers while filming the explosion. Two investigators with military police were severely injured while analyzing the materials, ending their military careers. Law enforcement agents found bomb-making notes, materials and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building. (Department of Justice)
  • Emergency supplemental funding to help with recovery efforts after Hurricane Florence were introduced in the House. Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said FEMA has enough funding to respond to the hurricane. But the Housing and Urban Development Department needs $1.7 billion in block grant community development funding. (House Appropriations Committee)
  • The Defense Department failed to identify ways it could save $10 billion in headquarters and administrative activities by fiscal 2019 as required by law. The Government Accountability Office said DoD could only find $9.2 billion in savings and does not have a reliable way of estimating costs to support the savings estimate. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Some agencies have not evaluated the effectiveness of training for their grants workforce. The Government Accountability Offices said officials at multiple agencies are unfamiliar with training materials from the Office of Management and Budget. Departments are also having trouble identifying their grants personnel. Approaches to training vary between departments. GAO recommended the departments collect data on training and establish metrics for examining it. It also recommended increasing oversight and consistency in training methods. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The majority of federal employees working in open offices do not welcome the change. An exclusive Federal News Radio survey shows of more than 500 federal workers, 44 percent said their agency moved to an open office design. The majority of those said open floor plans led to decreased productivity and more noise complaints. Most of the employees who didn’t have an open office said they’d be concerned if their agency made the switch. (Federal News Radio)
  • Just over 400 federal employees have participated in phased retirement to date. The Office of Personnel Management has been tracking phased retirement participation since late 2014 when it first let agencies start applying for the program. OPM said a total of 222 people have opted in, completed the requirements and fully retired so far. NASA, and the Commerce and Agriculture departments are the heaviest users of phased retirement to date. The Office of Management and Budget said roughly 60 percent of the federal workforce is eligible to retire within the next 10 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Management and Budget said it wants to modernize how agencies use cloud services in 22 ways. When it comes to cloud computing, the OMB wants agencies to be cloud smart rather than cloud first. After eight years, OMB is changing the way agencies implement cloud services. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent released the draft cloud smart strategy detailing 22 new goals to accelerate and sustain how agencies use cloud services. The goals focus on three main areas, workforce, cybersecurity and procurement. Comments on the draft strategy are due by Oct. 24. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department shared more information about how its Cloud Factory and cloud steering group will complement one another. The cloud steering group will affect policy changes based on best practices as early adopters move into the cloud. The Cloud Factory will need to streamline and automate the cloud migration process first though. (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs Department officials have been combing through tens of thousands of cases handled by a pathologist suspected of working while he was impaired. So far, they’ve identified three deaths. The investigation involves the former chief pathologist at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Hospital officials said the review has identified 11 significant medical errors so far, including three that proved fatal. The pathologist, Dr. Robert Morris Levy, was fired after hospital officials determined he came to work drunk at least twice. VA’s inspector general is investigating whether the hospital acted properly. (Federal News Radio)
  • Former Symantec CEO Michael Brown is taking over as the Defense Innovation Unit’s managing partner. DIU has been without an official leader since February when Raj Shah stepped down. Sean Heritage filled in for those seven months. DIU is tasked with finding quick and cheap solutions to warfighter needs in innovative spaces through nontraditional defense businesses. (Federal News Radio)

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