Special Operations Command to issue ethics guidance, amid scandals

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  • U.S. Special Operations’ commanding general has planned a top-down review of the agency with a special eye on ethics. Gen. Ray Thomas III cited what he calls inexcusable and reprehensible violations of trust committed across SOCOM’s formations. He called for a 90-day review. This follows the New York Times’ report of a possibly alcohol-related road crash that killed a French military member, and of a string of murders, drug trafficking and sexual assault charges over the past year. (Newsweek)
  • The Army is increasing the amount of time enlisted soldiers can spend in the service. Ranks of corporal through Sergeant first class will now get an extra year or two in their positions before they must be promoted to the next rank. The Army hopes the policy decision will keep more mid-career enlisted soldiers in the Army as it continues to expand. (Federal News Network)
  • TRICARE beneficiaries have a little bit longer to decide if they want to change their health insurance plan. The Defense Health Agency extended the deadline for the first TRICARE open season from Dec. 10 until the end of the year. Beneficiaries can pick between the less expensive TRICARE Prime or the more comprehensive TRICARE select plans. They can also change enrollment type to single or family. (Federal News Network)
  • A new study from Dartmouth and the American College of Physicians found that most hospitals within the Department of Veterans Affairs perform better than their private sector counterparts. Researchers reviewed VA hospital quality data for 121 health care regions and compared it with the private sector. VA provided better care in most regions especially in treating heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Four industry associations are pushing congressional leadership to pass Sen. Mark Warner’s (R-D-Va.) security clearance reform bill by the end of the year. The Professional Services Council, Intelligence and National Security Alliance, Aerospace Industries Association and Northern Virginia Technology Council said they all strongly support the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce of the 21st Century Act. The organizations said the bill puts more, much-needed leadership attention on security clearances by setting specific timelines for the Pentagon and others to reduce the security clearance backlog. (Professional Services Council)
  • Both chambers of congress passed a bill to change how lawmakers handle sexual harassment claims, after a year which saw more than a half-dozen lawmakers resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The bill holds members of Congress, including those who leave office, financially liable for settlements resulting from harassment and retaliation. It will also eliminate mandatory counseling and mediation for victims, as well as the “cooling off” period victims are currently required to observe before filing a lawsuit or requesting an administrative hearing. (Associated Press)
  • The fourth and final OMB IT policy update is coming next week. Federal CIO Suzette Kent checked off the final task under the IT Modernization Strategy on Dec. 13. She put in motion the release of the updated policy for the Trusted Internet Connections or TIC initiative. The revamped 2007 policy is expected to come out next week in the Federal Register for comment. It’s the fourth and final policy update from OMB in 2018 to help remove some of the barriers around IT modernization. Kent said the work by OMB, the CIO Council and agencies over the last year set the foundation for more progress in 2019 and beyond. (Federal News Network)
  • More than a year into the effort, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is more than halfway done with its migration to the cloud. Chief Technology Officer David Larrimore said ICE has about 45 of its 75 production systems running out of the cloud. Within four months, the agency also has gone from 300 servers running virtually in the cloud to about 1,200. (Federal News Network)
  • Amazon Web Services is getting involved in Oracle’s lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud contract. On Dec. 13, a federal judge granted AWS’s motion to intervene in the case. The company said it has economic interests in the case that it can’t expect the government to defend. AWS claimed Oracle’s complaint made “baseless” charges about AWS and DoD having conflicts of interest in the up-to-$10 billion cloud procurement. In its lawsuit, Oracle claimed at least two DoD employees with ties to AWS helped influence the JEDI procurement. (Federal News Network)
  • There’s a new executive to lead the General Services Administration’s transition to the next-generation telecommunications contract. Allen Hill is coming over to GSA from the Education Department to be the telecommunication services director. He replaced Amando Gavino, who moved into a new position at GSA in July. Hill has worked at Education for the last five years where he led the strategic planning, policy development and management of all IT systems. He also has 20 years of experience with the Air Force.