House VA committee worried agency failing to curb sexual harassment at facilities

In today's Federal Newscast, a bipartisan group in the House Veterans Affairs Committee wants more information about VA's plans to curb sexual harassment.

  • A bipartisan group in the House Veterans Affairs Committee wants more information about VA’s plans to curb sexual harassment of female veterans and employees. Members said they learned harassment training for VA employees is not mandatory, and it’s up to all local VA facilities to report whether their employees took this training. House VA Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), said it’s unclear who exactly has received training. They want the VA central office to collect this information and report their findings to Congress. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • The House again passed a bill to set up a rotational assignment program for senior-level intelligence employees at the Department of Homeland Security. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said the rotations would develop cross-training, leading to greater communication within DHS, while reducing the risk of security threats. The House approved the bill last year, but failed to pass the Senate before the end of the session. (House Homeland Security Committee)
  • A bill to modernize and improve the security clearance process made it out of committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved the 2018 to 2020 Intelligence Authorization Act, which includes Sen. Mark Warner’s  (D-Va.) security clearance legislation. The bill would also provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave to intelligence personnel, including adoptive and foster parents, and language to create a new supply chain risk task force for the intelligence community. (Senate Intelligence Committee)
  • Agencies will soon receive guidance from the Office of Management and Budget on the next steps to implement the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. Chief Statistician Nancy Potok said OMB is in the very last stages of the approval process for the guidance. Speaking at an Association of Government Accountants conference, Potok said agencies will have some discretion of where incoming chief data and evaluation officers will fit into their agency’s organizational chart. (Federal News Network)
  • The House Appropriations Committee is offering $700 billion dollars for the Defense Department in 2020. The spending bill gives a 3.1% raise to troops and increases defense spending by about $16 billion compared to 2019. It is about $50 billion less than the White House requested. (Federal News Network)
  • A joint team created by the military services looks to analyze barriers military spouses face when looking for a job overseas. The team will make recommendations on how to make employment easier for spouses overseas. It’s slated to issue final recommendations by the end of the year. (Air Force)
  • The CEO of a company that allegedly made excess profits from almost all of its Defense contracts is set to be grilled on Capital Hill on Wednesday. Transdigm has absorbed several of the military’s sole-source spare parts suppliers in recent years, mostly in the aviation industry, and a recent Pentagon inspector general audit found it dramatically marked up its prices for 46 of the 47 contracts auditors examined, including, in one case, a 4,400% profit margin. The House Oversight Committee said it’ll be asking whether the Transdigm case is a marker of more systemic issues, including whether DoD contracting officers have the tools they need to negotiate fair prices. (House of Representatives)
  • A former IRS employee was convicted of tax evasion and obstructing internal revenue laws. A jury in Las Vegas found Craig Orrock guilty of neglecting to pay federal income taxes, and then obstructing the IRS’ attempts to collect. Justice Department officials said he did so by hiding proceeds from real estate sales he made. (Department of Justice)
  • Agencies should have fewer hoops to jump through this year to request and allocate senior executives in their organizations. The Office of Personnel Management said it’s streamlining the SES allocation process. Agencies no longer need to provide position descriptions, or prioritize those positions when making SES requests for the next year. The templates agencies previously used to account for SES positions are also shorter. OPM said agencies who want to change the size of their SES workforces have 60 days to make those requests. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The Trump administration told OPM to merge most of its functions to the General Services Administration or else face a $70 million shortfall. The administration released its “case for change” for the OPM reorganization, and said it will submit a legislative proposal to Congress in the coming days. The legislative proposal will detail what authorities OPM needs in order to lift and shift its employees to GSA. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency released a request for information last Friday culminating eight months of work to figure out the initial steps to merge 14 Defense agency networks. DISA seeks vendor input to develop a final acquisition strategy to eventually create a unified network and a set of common commodity IT services. The Fourth Estate network optimization effort already is underway with initial consolidation of seven networks. The RFI will lead to a potential 10-year contract focused on three goals: Saving money, cybersecurity and improved services. Responses to the RFI are due June 3. (FedBizOpps)
  • Lawmakers in the national capital region want the Agriculture Department to hold off on its plans to relocate two USDA bureaus out of the Washington, D.C. area. They said USDA hasn’t fully explained what legal authority it has to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and want to give GSA a chance to get involved. Maryland and Virginia representatives and senators wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. They’re asking him to delay relocation until USDA provides more detail about its plans, and until the Agriculture inspector general finishes its review of the move. (Rep. Steny Hoyer)
  • The Census Bureau has invited industry to gain skills in using the agency’s data. The bureau launched Census Academy, a series of online courses to help people better use Census data sets. Courses range from how to analyze census data using Microsoft Excel, for those with medium skills, to mapping census data in the R programming language and something called the Cloroplethr package — that’s for data analysts and developers. Weekly data gems give advice for using Census stats. (U.S. Census Bureau)

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