Navy will drop all charges against those facing court-martial trials for deadly collision

In today's Federal Newscast, it appears the Navy will be dropping all charges against leadership involved in the USS Fitzgerald's fatal collision with a merchan...

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  • The Defense Department is still trying to sell the Space Force to Congress, but concerns over the service continue to persist. After a lengthy hearing about the future of the Space Force, senators on the Armed Services Committee seemed unconvinced as to why the United States needs another military service. The acting Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterated their concerns that threats in space are changing. But Senators like Angus King (I-Maine) feel the U.S. Space Command has enough power and authority to counter those issues. Other senators were concerned about the growth of bureaucracy and cost. It’s estimated the Space Force would need about 16,000 employees. (Associated Press)
  • The Justice Department wants $29.2 billion for fiscal 2020, about 2%  less than it will receive this year. Amid hours of questioning on the special counsel’s report, Attorney General Bill Barr told appropriators that DOJ wants to hire more immigration judges and consolidate several offices and program areas in order to streamline agency operations. The budget request also allocates $132 million for cybersecurity, counterterrorism and counterintelligence. (Federal News Network)
  • It appears the Navy will be dropping all charges against those facing court-martial trials related to the USS Fitzgerald’s fatal 2017 collision with a merchant vessel. Navy Times reported that the family members of sailors who drowned in the collision, received a letter indicating Adm. John Richardson was dropping charges against Commander Bryce Benson, as well as tactical action officer, LT. Natalie Combs. (Navy Times)
  • Current Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Bill Moran is nominated as the new chief of naval operations. He will replace Admiral John Richardson. Vice Admiral John Burke will take Moran’s post as the vice chief. Burke currently serves as the deputy chief of naval operations for manpower, personnel, training and education. (Department of Defense)
  • Today will be acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ron Vitello’s final day in office. He sent a letter to his employees earlier this week notifying them of the change. Vitello has spent more than three decades on border work. President Trump withdrew Vitello’s nomination to become permanent ICE director late last week. (Associated Press)
  • The leading federal information technology group chooses a new head. Dave Wennergren, a long-time Defense IT official now with Deloitte, will become CEO of the American Council for Technology, Industry Advisory Council, better known as ACT-IAC . The CEO title is new for the organization. When he joins next month, Wennergren will take over from executive director Ken Allen, who announced his retirement last fall. ACT-IAC hosts numerous events and programs that bring federal and industry IT officials together to find ways to improve technology acquisition, deployment, and management. (Federal News Network)
  • For the first time in 20 years, agencies have new guidance on meeting the goals of the Congressional Review Act. The Office of Management and Budget issued a new policy hoping to ensure more consistent compliance with the law’s requirements. OMB also detailed guidelines for how the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs will analyze and classify regulatory actions. The new policy will be effective May 11. (White House)
  • Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and committee member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced a bill to set minimum standards for paid tax preparers, and will require them to meet continuing education requirements. It would also give the IRS the authority to rescind tax identification numbers from preparers found incompetent or fraudulent. The IRS receives more than 10,000 complaints about negligent paid tax preparers each year. (Sen. Ben Cardin)
  • The Government Accountability Office found that the IRS is on-par with the rest of government when it comes to meeting GAO recommendations. The agency has filled 77% of GAO’s recommendations over the past 4 years, with more than 300 recommendations still open. The top unfilled recommendations include improving payment integrity and reducing tax fraud. (Government Accountability Office)
  • GAO reminded the Office of Personnel Management of 18 priorities it has not yet tackled. They’re no small task either, as GAO said OPM needs to improve the federal classification system and find new ways to address frustrations with federal employee misconduct and performance. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A nine-year effort to close agency data centers received mixed reviews from GAO. Agencies have closed more than 6,200 data centers since 2009 and plan to shut down another 1,200 by 2023. But GAO found in a new report that 11 agencies fell well short of their stated closure goals, and 22 said they made only limited progress on optimization targets. On the other hand, GAO found 16 of 24 agencies met or exceeded their goals to save money from closing or consolidating data centers. Overall, auditors determined the government saved $1.9 billion out of the $2.7 billion OMB expected to save between 2016 and 2018. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service will partner to resolve federal workplace disputes. The two agencies signed a formal memo of agreement, to work together to find federal workplace disputes in the EEOC inventory which could use mediation help from the FMCS. The two agencies said FMCS’ expertise in alternative dispute resolution should help EEOC cut the backlog of federal sector charges. (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service)

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