VA reorganizes health administration to comply with Trump executive order

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  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said it plans to realign several programs within its Veterans Health Administration (VHA) into four offices. The reorganization, it said, is designed to enhance quality care for veterans by improving coordination of services in the areas of population health,  education and training of health care professionals, research and academic affiliations, engineering services and human resources.  VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the reorganization will reduce bureaucracy  and alleviate some administrative burden on VA networks and hospitals. (VA)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report critical of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), claiming OPM has an opportunity to be more of a leader in the performance management space by becoming more proactive in championing innovative performance management practices.  The report said OPM must consistently challenge traditional performance management practices and identify opportunities to present and promote new and creative solutions to agencies, (Federal News Network)
  • Federal employees are being urged to take advantage of “Giving Tuesday” tomorrow by donating to the Combined Federal Campaign. The annual CFC pledge season extends until Jan. 11, but federal workers who are looking to counteract the season’s consumerism are being encouraged to make their annual pledge to support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world. (CFC)
  • The Army awarded a $4 billion, 10-year marketing contract to Omnicom’s global advertising firm DDB Worldwide. The contract arrived after an acquisition process marked by two protests from advertising agency McCann. McCann’s first protest was sustained, and led to the Army amending the initial request for proposals to include compliance reviews in the evaluation process. GAO announced last week the second protest, originally filed in August, was denied. McCann argued the Army eliminated its proposal from consideration without a full evaluation. (Defense Daily)
  • The Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to fast-track a decision on its attempt to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military. Three separate federal courts are dealing with lawsuits challenging the ban, and injunctions in those cases have kept it from going into full effect. The administration wants the high court to issue a definitive ruling by the end of the court’s current term. (Federal News Network)
  • The Navy’s inability to move submarines in and out of shipyards on time has cost taxpayers an extra $1.5 billion over the past ten years. An assessment of the Government Accountability Office said the extra costs come from ships and crews sitting idly by while waiting for maintenance. The GAO report, released Monday, resulted from a congressional direction to review the readiness of the Navy’s attack submarine fleet. A classified version of the report was issued Oct. 31.  (GAO)

  • The Pentagon’s plans for its upcoming cloud computing contract may be bigger than what it’s advertised.  DoD has consistently pushed back against industry claims that the JEDI contract would be “winner take all,”  saying it would only account for 20 percent of its demand for IT in the cloud. But as part of bid protest litigation, the department said it wants 80 percent of its applications to move to the new cloud service. The Pentagon said both figures are accurate, but added the 20 percent figure only accounts for data hosting costs, not the number of systems the department plans to move. (Federal News Network)

  • A new report from the Justice Department’s inspector general (IG) countered the agency’s argument that its security clearance backlog has not proven to be an obstacle to hiring employees with mission critical skills. The report said the department is using a waiver process to help expedite the onboarding of new employees and giving them an interim security clearance. The IG said, however, that its not a long-term solution as DOJ continues to struggle to recruit employees with expertise in cybersecurity and medical areas. Filling critical positions was just one of nine recommendations made in the IG’s 2018 list of top management and performance challenges for the agency in the year ahead. (Justice IG)

  • The Energy Department’s inspector general said contract management remains a high risk area for the department for the 28th straight year. The IG said despite nearly three decades of calling attention to how the department oversees more than 14,000 contracts worth more than $25 billion,  several problems remain. The IG identified continued vulnerabilities with project and vendor oversight as well as less than adequate subcontract reviews. Contract management was one of seven top management challenges highlighted by the IG. (Justice IG)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee scheduled a vote on the president’s three nominees to fill the Merit Systems Protection Board. The committee will need to vote and clear the nominees in the full Senate by the end of the year.  Otherwise, the president will need to appoint new nominees in 2019.  MSPB has lacked a quorum since January 2017. (HSGAC)
  • Employees with government credit cards have less than a week to finalize their transition to SmartPay 3. The General Services Administration — which runs the program — said the new government purchase cards go into effect on Nov. 30. Between now and then, GSA said users should continue to use their existing purchase cards and cancel all reoccurring charges on those older cards. In 2017, agencies spent $18.9 billion through the credit card program. Data for 2018 is not yet available. (GSA)

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