Cyber spoofing attack hits Labor, Transportation Departments

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  • Agencies and contractors are facing a new kind of cyber spoofing attack. The departments of Labor and Transportation are fighting back an attempt by hackers to fool companies who come to their websites to do business with them. Cybersecurity firm Anomali Labs said a phisher created fake landing pages mimicking Transportation’s eProcurement login portal and Labor’s homepage to get vendors to send their personal information to the attacker. The company said it has alerted both Google and Microsoft to blacklist those fake sites on their search engines. In the meantime, Anomali Labs warned vendors to be wary of unsolicited government emails and agencies to invest in domain monitoring services. (Anomali Labs)
  • Federal employees should expect to see an average 1.9 percent raise reflected in their paychecks sometime in March or early April. A spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) told Federal News Network the Office of Personnel Management has updated locality pay tables and sent them to the Office of Management and Budget for review. The raise could come in time for federal employees’ March 22 paycheck, or as late as the April 5 check. (Federal News Network)
  • The Government Accountability Office has asked Congress to increase its funding by 10 percent to help grow its workforce. In its fiscal 2020 budget request, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said the agency plans to expand its IT and cybersecurity team from 140 employees to 175 by end of 2019. Last month, GAO launched its Science, Technology, Assessment and Analytics team. In the near future, Dodaro said he’d like to see GAO expand that team from 70 employees to as many as 140 employees. (Federal News Network)
  • Herb Jackson, acting deputy director of the Government Publishing Office, will retire from government at the end of March. This comes after an inspector general report claimed Jackson and a former acting deputy director bypassed the agency’s competitive hiring process, allowing Jackson’s son to take an internship with GPO. (Federal News Network)
  • The 35-day partial government shutdown appears to have had a big effect on the Food and Drug Administration. Tony Reardon, president of the National Employees Treasury Union, testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the FDA, describing the personal and professional impact the shutdown had on employees. Reardon said one example of the impact was on employees who had to work and were required to put their work-related travel expenses on their credit cards. Reardon said the FDA now faces a period of low productivity as the employees have been called back, but they lack the supplies to do their job. (National Treasury Employees Union)
  • Federal unions defending a judge’s August decision to overturn key provisions of the president’s 2018 executive orders now have a few high-profile supporters. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) filed an amicus brief in support of the unions. They said the president’s orders contradict Congress’ intent when it created the Federal Labor-Management Relations Statute back in 1978. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also filed a separate amicus brief in support of federal unions. The Trump administration is appealing the federal district judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 4.
  • Good government groups are pleading with the White House to install at least one person on the Merit Systems Protection Board before lone member and acting Chairman Mark Robbins leaves at the end of Friday. The Senate would either need to clear House-passed legislation to extend Robbins’ term for another year, or confirm one of the President’s nominees. (Federal News Network)
  • Another hearing on privatized military housing is scheduled for early March. A hearing in February with the Senate Armed Services Committee exposed mold, rats and lead paint in the houses. The purpose of the next hearing will be to see how the military services will make changes to improve housing and care for military families who live in the homes. All of the military department secretaries and the chief military officers are invited to testify. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
  • Richard Thomas, president of the Uniformed Services University, said the Defense Department needs to use a “scalpel” when making cuts to its medical force. DoD has considered cutting up to 17,000 medical corps jobs. The billets would be repurposed for combat troops. DoD employs about 186,000 medical professionals. (Federal News Network)
  • The investigation into the influence that three private-sector members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club had on the Department of Veterans Affairs is off to a rocky start. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) gave VA Secretary Robert Wilkie a Feb. 22 deadline to submit all documents and communication that the department had with the “Mar-A-Lago three.” Takano said Wilkie had agreed to comply with the investigation when they spoke back in early February. But Takano said he got a letter from VA on the evening of the deadline, asking for a meeting about document production. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • You might not think of the Environmental Protection Agency as a provider of food, but the agency reported recovering 17,000 pounds of food from the Superbowl in Atlanta, and delivering it to a local aid group. The EPA’s food recovery challenge has claimed the recovery of 648,000 tons of food from more than a thousand organizations in 2017. If they can’t be consumed by people, the leftovers are turned to electricity in a Massachusetts facility known as an anaerobic digester. (Environmental Protection Agency)

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