Army sergeant gets 25 years in prison for supporting ISIS

To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe on PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

  • A U.S. Soldier was sentenced to 25 years in prison for providing government materials and military equipment to ISIS. The Justice Department says Army Sergeant First Class Ikaika Kang gave undercover FBI agents he believed had connections to ISIS non-public military documents, and also a small aerial drone, military chest rig and other military-style clothing and gear. The sensitive materials included the U.S. military’s weapons file, details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system, various military manuals and documents containing personal information about U.S. service members. (Department of Justice)
  • Airmen are retiring at a rate higher than any other military service. A Government Accountability Office report found they reach retirement eligibility at a rate 10 to 15 percent higher than other service members. GAO’s findings may persuade lawmakers to make the Air Force carry a heavier load on retirement contributions. Currently, all military services contribute the same amount to a military retirement fund. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Pentagon proposed new rules to crack down on one of the defense industry’s most-hated contracting methods. The rules would put new limits on how and when DoD officials can award contracts on a lowest price, technically acceptable basis. This came two years after Congress ordered the department to issue them, and a month after the Government Accountability Office noted that DoD’s been dragging its feet on the issue. Among other provisions, they’d require that contracting officers justify their decisions to use LPTA in writing, and explain why a “best value” award isn’t appropriate. (Federal Register)
  • Federal agencies are starting to implement a congressional directive, meant to ease the paperwork burden when they use each other’s acquisition services. This year’s defense authorization bill removed a requirement which told agencies they had to make a “best procurement” determination for interagency acquisitions. The FAR Council is working to make the change governmentwide. Yesterday, the Defense Department issued a final rule to implement a small part of it. (Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs)
  • Six White House officials were found to be in violation of the Hatch Act. The Office of Special Counsel said the group of employees, which includes Raj Shah, principal deputy press secretary, posted tweets supporting candidate Donald Trump or the Republican Party including the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” The original complaint was filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Federal employees can not use the slogan or related hashtags and campaign materials on official social media accounts, OSC said back in March. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)
  • Veterans Affairs is told, not so fast in the firing of a surgeon turned whistleblower. Thoracic surgeon Robert Cameron received a 45-day stay of his termination, pending an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. He was let go after blowing the whistle on alleged poor anesthesia practices in the VA’s Los Angeles Medical Center. OSC said that given Cameron’s record, the termination may have been unlawful retaliation. His supervisor had pushed him to retire a day before the firing date. (Office of Special Counsel)
  • The White House’s postal task force called for rolling back collective bargaining rights for postal unions. It’s long-awaited report found postal employees are better paid than their private-sector counterparts, but also faults the Postal Service for pre-funding health benefits for future retirees. USPS defaulted on nearly $7 billion in payments to the fund in fiscal 2018. (Federal News Network)
  • Another federal agency CIO is on the move. Transportation chief information officer Vicki Hildebrand said she will be leaving after just over a year on the job. Hildebrand announced her decision Dec. 4 in an email to staff, which Federal News Network obtained. She said her decision to leave is solely based on the need to be closer to her family in Vermont. She has been commuting back to Washington since starting as DOT’s CIO in October 2017. During her time as CIO, Hildebrand sought to reshape how the agency uses technology across nine areas. It’s unclear who will be acting CIO. Kristen Baldwin is the deputy CIO at Transportation. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal employees who received relocation reimbursements this year for moves before 2018 will not have to pay taxes on the money. But those employees who moved after Jan. 1 will face tax liabilities. The General Services Administration explained the IRS’s guidance from September. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended the ability to deduct moving expenses starting in 2018. (General Services Administration)
  • Taxpayers have an extra day to file any return or pay any tax originally due on Dec. 5. With agencies closed today out of respect for the late president George H.W. Bush, the IRS said the one-day extension will apply to any return that’s required to be filed with the IRS. (IRS)
  • Six new locality pay areas were finalized by the Office of Personnel Management, just in time for January 2019. OPM will issue a final rule later this week. Employees in Birmingham, Alabama; Burlington, Vermont; Corpus Christi, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio, Texas, and Norfolk, Virginia, will have their own locality pay area, in time for the first paycheck in 2019. Over 70,000 employees may see a change in pay. (Federal News Network)
  • The Agriculture Department will change its Federal Pathways internship program. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the department will hire interns interested in specialized fields from across the country. They’ll get on-the-job experience, mentoring and training tailored to their interests and education. Perdue said students will have an easier time applying this year. USDA hired 3,000 interns last year. Half came from the Federal Pathways Program. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)