16 Marines charged with smuggling migrants into the US

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  • Sixteen Marines have been arrested and accused of helping smuggle migrants into the U.S. They were all stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Some have also been charged with drug-related offenses. This comes weeks after two Marines were arrested by a Border Patrol agent on suspicion of transporting three Mexicans illegally into the United States. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force’s top enlisted officer said issues with substandard military housing are declining because of the service’s in-depth review of thousands of housing units. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright said the service is currently renewing its focus on contractor accountability. This week the Air Force pulled its incentive fees from Balfour-Beatty Communities after allegations that the company fudged maintenance records to receive bonuses from the military.
  • Two new Army housing surveys showed a drop in overall satisfaction from last year. One of the surveys focused on privatized military housing. The areas of lowest satisfaction in the survey included the condition of roads, landscaping and pest control. Fort Bragg’s housing received the worst score in property and service. The surveys come after military-wide reports of mice, mold, lead paint and other substandard living conditions in privatized housing. (Army)
  • The Senate has overwhelmingly approved the president’s pick for the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Army Gen. Mark Milley cleared the confirmation test by a vote of 89-1. He’ll replace Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as the military’s top officer when Dunford’s term expires on Oct. 1. Milley is currently the Army’s chief of staff. The Senate has already approved Gen. James McConville, the Army’s vice chief, to take over that position once Milley departs. (Federal News Network)
  • A dozen House lawmakers want President Donald Trump to intervene in the Defense Department’s cloud contract that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. The bi-partisan group of legislators said the White House should tell DoD to delay the award until the inspector general completes its investigation. Auditors are looking into whether there were conflicts of interest by DoD employees in planning and executing the contract. DoD is expected to make the award in mid-August.
  • Two years after the president’s cyber executive order, agencies are still struggling to manage their risks. Civilian agencies have taken initial steps to make cyber risk more prominent in their planning and policies, but most continue to struggle to turn policies into action. A new report by the Government Accountability Office found fewer than half of the 23 agencies developed an agency-wide cyber risk management strategy or fully established coordination with their enterprise risk management function. Agencies cited hiring and retaining cyber personnel and dealing with competing priorities as the main reasons for not meeting the goals of the executive order. GAO made 57 recommendations to the 23 agencies for improving their cyber risk management efforts. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A new certification program for HR professionals was launched by the Office of Personnel Management. Acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert said the goal is to better educate HR specialists about the federal competitive hiring process. Anyone who’s involved in their agency’s competitive hiring process must take these courses and earn a certification. The previous online certification test has been retired. The new exam will be online but proctored in person. OPM has deemed HR a mission-critical skills gap. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)
  • The Government Accountability Office said it still disputes patient wait time data from the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA publishes average wait times for each of its facilities on a public website. But GAO said this information is likely unreliable, because VA continues to measure wait times in a variety of ways. VA said veterans wait about 20 days on average for a primary care appointment. The department said wait times have improved significantly since the 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. (Federal News Network)
  • The Veterans Benefits Administration claimed success in claims processing. VBA said it exceeded quarterly targets for completion of disability compensation claims, getting 351,000 of them finished in the most recent quarter. It also beat its goals for pension claims and several other lines of business. But it missed its quarterly goal for dependency and indemnity compensation claims. Undersecretary Paul Lawrence read out the results in an online telecast. Secretary Bob Wilkie praised VBA for laying it out on the table. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The Senate unanimously declared July 30 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The Senate Whistleblower Caucus and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the resolution, while House members had introduced a similar resolution back in March. They call on agency heads to publicly recognize whistleblowers and their contributions, and inform their employees and contractors of their own whistleblower rights. The National Whistleblower Center will also be hosting its annual appreciation event on that day, where a member of the British Parliament and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz are confirmed to speak. (National Whistleblower Center)

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