House Rep. trying again to help federal retirees who saw cuts to Social Security

In today's Federal Newscast, a bill in the House would replace the Windfall Elimination Provision which currently cuts Social Security benefits for federal reti...

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  • Congress will try to secure some relief for a group of federal retirees who will lose out on their full Social Security benefits. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) introduced the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act. The bill would replace the Windfall Elimination Provision, which currently cuts Social Security benefits for federal retirees who work in a private sector job and also receive a government pension. Brady’s bill would replace the WEP with a new formula. Federal retirees age 60 and older would get a monthly rebate of $100. (Rep. Kevin Brady)
  • Agencies have found success in automating manual tasks for federal employees, but that’s just the beginning. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent said the real challenge of introducing artificial intelligence in government has to do with reskilling federal employees and creating reliable data sets. National Science Foundation CIO Dorothy Aronson said leaders on the mission side of agencies need to play a larger role in developing AI use cases. (Federal News Network)
  • The Patent and Trademark Office is looking at ways to use AI to streamline its patent approval process. USPTO Director Andrei Iancu told Federal News Network the agency is developing tools to improve database searches, and to streamline the intake of new patent applications. When vetting new applications, USPTO examiners have to search a growing body of research materials, to make sure the pending invention isn’t based on existing ideas. (Federal News Network)
  • Seen any good management skills lately? The EPA wants to hear about it. Acting Deputy Administrator Henry Darwin asks employees to record video of their department’s team huddles, and submit them to EPA’s Office of Continuous Improvement before Aug. 16. Teams with the best videos will receive an award and a pizza party. Their videos will also be used for agency training materials. (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)
  • Efforts to restore Congress’s defunct technology watchdog office get a bipartisan boost from the House Modernization Committee. Members unanimously approved a recommendation to bring back the Office of Technology Assessment as part of its second package of proposed changes. This comes after the House passed a provision in the FY 2020 spending bill that would give OTA $6 million in startup funding next year. (House Modernization Committee)
  • Veterans Affairs said it will spend at least $5 billion to maintain its legacy electronic health record. That estimate will cover the maintenance and development of the Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, for the next decade. But the Government Accountability Office said the real cost is likely much higher. VA hasn’t completely defined the full scope of VistA, and GAO said those maintenance costs are likely inaccurate. House lawmakers said they’re losing confidence in VA’s estimates for the new EHR. (Federal News Network)
  • In back-to-back reports, GAO highlighted continued cybersecurity struggles across the government. A majority of the civilian agencies are falling well short of implementing the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014. GAO found 13 of 16 agencies failed to fully implement security training, remedial action processes and incident response capabilities as required by the five-year-old law. A majority of the agencies also struggled with the five other factors outlined in FISMA. At the same time, oversight by the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are meeting expectations to help implement the legislation. GAO, however, said OMB reduced the number of cyberstat meetings to three in 2018 from 24 in 2016, and recommends increasing the number of oversight sessions going forward. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee is continuing its effort to fill Defense Department vacancies as fast as possible. This week the committee will consider the nominations of Vice Admiral Michael Gilday to be chief of naval operations and General John Hyten to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The committee already conducted three nomination hearings this month for defense secretary, deputy defense secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
  • Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) will be nominated to be the next director of national intelligence. The Texas Republican is a member of both the committee on Intelligence and Homeland Security. He will replace Dan Coats, who has been director since March 2017 and resigned yesterday. Ratcliffe will be the sixth permanent DNI once the Senate confirms him. Among his accomplishments during his three terms on Capitol Hill, Ratcliffe sponsored the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act, which became law as part of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. (Federal News Network)
  • There was a nearly 12 point drop in satisfaction of the Navy’s privatized military housing compared to last year. A recent out-of-cycle survey used a zero to 100 point scale to grade the overall satisfaction of residents. The survey recommended the Navy come up with a plan to fix health and safety issues and to educate their staff on the plans. (Federal News Network)
  • A federal judge said the Pentagon’s decision to make its JEDI Cloud contract a winner-take-all affair was legally flawed, but it may not matter much. The Court of Federal Claims released the full text of its decision in Oracle’s bid protest challenging JEDI on Friday. It found the Pentagon ran afoul of a federal law that requires large ID/IQ contracts to go to multiple awardees. But the judge also ruled that Oracle wasn’t prejudiced by that particular legal misstep, because DoD disqualified the company from JEDI on other grounds that were legally sound. Oracle hasn’t yet said whether it will appeal the decision. DoD still plans to award the multi-billion dollar contract to either Amazon or Microsoft sometime next month. (Federal News Network)
  • Long-time Unysis chief technology officer Mark Cohn is being honored by the Professional Services Council with a new research fund. Cohn recently passed away from lung cancer. The fund in his name will promote innovation through research primarily focused on cybersecurity and other emerging technologies. The fund will invite researchers from accredited graduate and post-graduate programs, as well as non-profit entities, to submit proposals to obtain funding for technology research programs to benefit government and industry. (Professional Services Council)

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