Pentagon delaying major change to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits

In today's Federal Newscast, the Defense Department is putting off the elimination of a major benefit for post 9/11 veterans.

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  • Controversial changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are now being delayed by the Pentagon. The Defense Department planned to discontinue the ability to transfer benefits to spouses and children for service members who served more than 16 years. It is now holding off on that change until next January. (Rep. Joe Courtney)
  • Parties are still slowly calculating the damages owed to federal employees involved in the 2013 government shutdown lawsuit. Consultants involved in the class action lawsuit have been working for months to figure out what feds will eventually receive. A judge ruled in 2017, the government was wrong to delay pay to employees who worked during the first week of the 2013 shutdown. Lawyers for federal employees are gathering payroll data for just 69 of the 25,000 claimants who opted into the lawsuit. They’re making slow progress. Lawyers were missing payroll data for 71 employees last month. (Federal News Network)
  • Industry leaders say 10% of their cleared intelligence community workforces sit idle during the year waiting for agencies to grant, update or transfer a security clearance. The Intelligence and National Security Alliance said the IC is missing out on about 1,000 labor years worth nearly $2 billion because of security clearance reciprocity delays. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a policy last year advising agencies to accept existing security clearances completed at other departments. But industry says the guidance is still too vague, and agencies haven’t been implementing it consistently. (Federal News Network)
  • Twenty-five watchdog groups want Congress to incorporate a handful of amendments cracking down on defense contractors in the 2020 defense authorization bill. The amendments close loopholes in the revolving door between industry and the Pentagon. They also create a database of former DoD officials who now work in the private sector. (Federal News Network)
  • The Pentagon could have a Senate-confirmed secretary of Defense within the next week, under the most optimistic projections. DoD officials said the timing is ultimately up to the Senate, but they expect the president to formally nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper for the job “shortly.” Esper is already the acting Defense secretary but he would have to step aside from that role while his nomination’s being considered. Because of other Pentagon leadership vacancies, the next official in line to be acting secretary in the meantime would be Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Officials said Spencer has already started getting regular briefings to prepare him for a temporary stint as Defense secretary. (Federal News Network)
  • Three minority senators on the Senate appropriations committee want to know what the final tally was for President Donald Trump’s expanded Fourth of July event on the national mall. They requested the Government Accountability Office look into the costs and impacts of the events and whether the expenses complied with appropriations law and other restrictions on political activity. The same three Senators also wrote to Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt demanding information on additional costs of the celebration, but said they never received a reply. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • There were missed oversight steps by the Department of Homeland Security when awarding low value contracts. The DHS inspector general found the agency did not document its oversight activities for 62% of its smaller contracts worth less than $300 million. DHS disagrees with the IG’s claim that it lacked a comprehensive system to keep track of contract files. (Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General)
  • The Coast Guard is getting deeper into the cybersecurity business — the incident happened in February but the Coast Guard just revealed it. It concerned an unidentified deep-draft commercial vessel headed for the Port of New York and New Jersey. The captain reported a serious cyber attack that degraded his on-board network. The Coast Guard said it led an inter-agency response team which found essential control of the ship remained sound. The Coast Guard recommended specific steps for operators to improve their security. (U.S. Coast Guard)
  • A bipartisan bill in the Senate is looking to make the Small Business Administration a go-to source for cybersecurity help. The Small Business Cybersecurity Act would make SBA a one-stop shop for government cyber assistance. The bill would also require the Department of Homeland Security to train SBA employees at Small Business Development Centers on cybersecurity standards. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the bill which stems from a report by DHS and SBA, that found small businesses had trouble seeking federal resources for cyber help. (Sen. Marco Rubio)
  • The State Department doubled down on its current contract with General Dynamics Information Technology to secure its global technology supply chain. The agency has awarded GDIT with a five-year, $2 billion contract to manage logistics and shipping of secured devices to embassies and high-threat posts. The award broadens the scope of a contract the State Department gave to the vendor in 2012. (PRNewswire)
  • A former State Department employee received 40 months in prison and a $40,000 fine for lying about her contact with Chinese officials. Candace Claiborne plead guilty to charges back in April that she accepted cash and other gifts from Chinese officials for copies of internal documents from State on topics ranging from economics to visits by dignitaries between the two countries. (Department of Justice)
  • There will be a summit of government and industry stakeholders to talk about ways they streamline the Department of Health and Human Services’ existing patient quality programs. Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said HHS will form a “Quality Summit” to review many of its programs on a value-based care model. HHS said many of its programs haven’t been subject to a top-to-bottom external review since their inception. HHS is accepting nominations for summit participants now through the end of the month. (Department of Health and Human Services)

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