Voice of America fires 15 staffers for accepting bribes from a foreign official

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  • The Voice of America (VOA) has fired or proposed to terminate more than half the members of its Hausa language service following an investigation that found the individuals had accepted improper payments from a foreign official. Amanda Bennett, director of the federally-funded news organization, said the action was taken after VOA and Inspector General investigations into allegations of accepting bribes from an official in the coverage area, principally in Nigeria.  It’s not uncommon in Nigeria for senior officials to distribute envelopes stuffed with cash during press briefings to influence coverage. VOA journalistic standards reject any such practices. (Voice of America)
  • House Republicans said they have a tentative deal on a pay raise for civilian employees. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Tom Graves (R-Ga.) said they are confident federal employees will get a raise. But the agreement isn’t final yet. The House won’t return to Capitol Hill until after the midterm election and can’t take up a final appropriations bill with a federal pay raise until at least November 13.  House Democrats and employee unions praised the tentative agreement, but say they’re cautious until the pay raise is law. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) has issued its first awards for the third phase of its Small Business Innovation Research pilot. The pilot incentivizes small businesses to pursue research and development projects that support government programs. GSA awarded one contractor $150 million in support of its work with the Air Force’s Strategic Development Planning & Experimentation Office.  (GSA)
  • The promotion system may not be the best way to find the Army’s leaders of tomorrow. A finding in a report from the RAND Corporation said the Army is likely failing to identify soldiers with leadership potential early in their careers. The report credited the non-commissioned officer education system for doing a better job than the promotion system  in assessing the needed attributes of a good leader. RAND suggested it could also be a key to keeping junior soldiers in the force. (RAND)
  • The Navy is getting creative with its career path for pilots. An announcement from the service states that a selection board will convene in late November to pick 20 Navy pilots who were passed over for command or want to avoid a desk job to become flight instructors. (NAVY)
  • The White House has issued a long-awaited report on vulnerabilities in the Defense Industrial Base. The study said the Defense supply system has too many “single points of failure,” especially at the level of lower-tier suppliers. It identified five root causes, including federal budget uncertainties that threaten small equipment makers. The president plans to sign a handful of actions to bolster industries the Pentagon views as threatened, using authorities in the Defense Production Act. (Washington Examiner)
  • The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) has released its latest Voting Scorecard for Congress. When it comes to legislation in 2017 and 2018 related to the pay and earned federal benefits of current and retired federal employees, NARFE gave four lawmakers a zero percent: Sen.Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Rand Paul of (R-Ky.) and Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Az.) and Andy Biggs (R-Az.) The scores are based on how lawmakers voted for bills that lifted sequestration spending caps, funded agencies and provided federal pay raises. (NARFE)
  • In his first week on the job  IRS commissioner Charles Rettig has outlined his strategy for the agency. In an all-hands email to employees, Rettig stressed the need for IT modernization, but acknowledged the agency’s budget challenges.  Since 2010, Congress has cut the IRS budget by nearly $1 billion, and trimmed its workforce by more than 17,000 employees. (IRS)
  • The Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) said two-thirds of its medical centers have improved their quality ratings over the past year. The VA, in releasing its Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) metrics, said 96 out of its 146 hospitals improved their star ratings over the past year. Quality ratings for six VA medical centers decreased. VA said those facilities will be targeted for improvement activities. (VA)
  • The Office of Personnel Management and Health and the Human Services Department are encouraging federal employees to get their flu shots this year. OPM Director Jeff Pon and HHS Secretary Alex Azar remind federal employees that most federal health insurance plans cover flu shots at no to little cost. They note some agencies may offer flu vaccines onsite. (OPM)

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