DoD and VA commit to one, interoperable Electronic Health Record

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  • The departments of Defense and Veterans signed a joint statement ensuring their commitment to implementing one, interoperable electronic health record. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said they planned to develop a detailed implementation timeline, an organizational structure and a mechanism to hold both agencies accountable throughout the project implementation. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Air Force leadership is saying the extra money Congress provided over the past two years for the military is actually helping the readiness of the service. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff General David Goldfein told Congress more than 75 percent of the Air Force’s core fighter units are now combat ready and 80 percent will be ready by 2020. (Air Force)
  • The Army is still figuring out how it will deal with soldiers who are nondeployable for a year or more. The Defense Department wants each service to find the best way to separate or heal troops who are nondeployable for 12 months or more. The policy went into effect Oct. 1. Sixty-two thousand soldiers could be affected. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army did not meet its recruiting goal last year. Obesity among the general population had a lot to do with it. A new report by the nonprofit group Council for a Strong America notes that almost a third of 17-through-24 year olds are disqualified from military service by virtue of their weight alone. That’s just one factor that makes military recruiting difficult: only about 11 percent of that age group says they’re interested in military service. The report concludes better nutrition and exercise in early childhood are needed to overcome what the authors say is a serious national security issue. (Council for a Strong America)
  • Veterans can rest assured, they’re getting an annual cost-of-living-adjustment on time for the next year. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Veterans Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act. Congress must pass legislation every year to ensure veterans get their rates adjusted to reflect the annual COLA. New benefits rates go into effect on Dec. 1. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • One vendor had some choice words for the Defense Department’s  $10 billion cloud procurement called JEDI. IBM told the Pentagon that it’s approach to the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative or JEDI is flawed and goes against industry best practices. In fact, Big Blue took it one step further and declared that no company would build a cloud like DoD is proposing to do under this 10-year contract that could be worth $10 billion. IBM filed a protest with GAO, joining Oracle in industry’s bid to convince DoD to change its strategy. IBM said JEDI’s single cloud approach restricted competition and went against the intent of Congress. (Federal News Network)
  • Years after adopting the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the IRS refused to provide mandatory employee training on those rights. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said her office worked with the IRS’ Human Capital Office to create an all-hands briefing about the Bill of Rights in 2017. But the agency abruptly reversed course. Olson said the IRS should reconsider the issue. Olson said new IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig should reconsider the issue. (National Taxpayer Advocate)
  • The Office Personnel Management wants agencies to make sure they’re keeping information about an employee personnel action, in an employee’s personnel record. The guidance is the first from OPM to address a provision within the president’s executive order on employee removals, which was not overturned in a recent court ruling. It’s also the first memo from new acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert. OPM said agencies should keep information about a personnel action in an employee’s official record, unless the agency makes a mistake. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The Postal Service is considering raising prices on its letters and packages next year. The agency’s Board of Governors approved a plan to increase the cost of a postage stamp by 5 cents to 55 cents. The board said the rate hike would keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with much-needed revenue. The proposal needs approval from the Postal Regulatory Service. (Postal Regulatory Commission)