Pentagon IG sees success with new way of handling whistleblower retaliation complaints

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  • The Pentagon inspector general said it’s seeing success with a new process to handle complaints of whistleblower reprisal. A 2012 law strengthened the rights of federal contract employees to file complaints if they suffered retaliation for complaining about waste, fraud and abuse, but the IG has managed to substantiate just a handful of cases with formal investigations — only one in the past year. But officials said they’ve had much more success with a new alternative dispute resolution process. 30 whistleblowers resolved their complaints via that less-formal process in fiscal 2018. The IG said the program is modeled after one established by the Office of Special Counsel. (Department of Defense)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department could be making decisions too fast.  Michael Missal, VA inspector general, said it’s those reoccurring challenges and others that led to the agency’s recent struggles in implementing the Forever GI bill. Paul Lawrence, VA benefits undersecretary, said he’s trying to slow down the decision-making process at the Veterans Benefits Administration. He’s also reviewing how the agency can train more VBA employees to specialize in certain types of claims. (Federal News Network)
  • A two week funding bill is introduced in the House to avoid a potential government shutdown. The stopgap measure would keep the government open through Dec. 21. Without it, a handful of agencies would be without funding, including the Homeland Security Department. The impasse remains the issue of President Trump’s proposed border wall. (Federal News Network)
  • More work and fewer employees have put a toll on the IRS. The IRS Advisory Council’s annual report projected that the agency failed to collect as much as $84 billion over the last eight years due to workforce cuts. Since 2011, Congress has cut the agency’s budget by more than $2 billion. Dennis Ventry, the council’s chairman, said the workforce cuts have made implementing the tax reform law an uphill battle. (Federal News Network)
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement claimed success against web sites selling counterfeit goods. As Christmas-time shopping reaches its zenith, ICE said over the past year, it and its international partners have seized more than a million domain names selling fake products. Most were taken in civil action after investigations by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, led by ICE. But 33,000 sites were seized criminally. ICE works with Europol, Interpol and police in 26 countries. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
  • Most federal employees won’t see any interruptions to their pay when the government closes Dec. 5 to honor the passing of President George H.W. Bush. The Office of Personnel Management released more guidance. Most employees will have the day off Wednesday. Those who usually work an eight-hour day, will get paid for all eight hours. Employees who typically work 10 hours under a compressed schedule, will get paid for 10 hours. Employees who had already scheduled the day off tomorrow, won’t be docked annual leave. (Federal News Network)
  • The Coast Guard and the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate have launched two nano-satellites looking to support Arctic search-and-rescue missions. The satellites, named Yukon and Kodiak, will send emergency distress beacons to Coast Guard facilities in Connecticut and Alaska. Both are about the size of a shoebox. DHS will begin tests of the emergency distress beacons starting in early 2019, and will continue through the summer.
  • The military services will consider conditional deployment for some service members. The idea would deploy troops with injuries or other conditions to areas of the world more suitable for them, instead of declaring them nondeployable. The Pentagon announced earlier this year troops who were not deployable for a year a more must leave the military. The new policy may be able to keep more troops in the military. (Federal News Network)
  • DoD has set a fast timeline for its $8 billion commercial cloud effort. The Defense Department and General Services Administration plan to release the solicitation for the Defense Enterprise Office Solution or DEOS contract by February. The two agencies then expect to make an award —which some estimate to be worth more than $8 billion over the next 10 years — by April. DoD and GSA acquisition officials told industry on Dec. 3 that the final strategy is still under development. Once it’s finalized, the procurement for email and collaboration services in the cloud will pick up steam. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force rolled out its Flight Commander’s Edge Program to improve its courses taught at the squadron-level. The online program provides tools designed to help leaders develop and deploy courses which can be taught by anyone. The Air Force hopes the ad hoc courses can keep airmen up-to-date on leadership classes. The online school provides course templates, exercises, handouts and learning aids. (Air Force)