Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson will continue her fight in retirement


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  • National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson is retiring from government as of today, ending her 19 years of running the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the IRS. The IRS implemented hundreds of recommendations she made for administrative change, and Congress has introduced bills to implement dozens of her recommendations; 15 were signed into law. In June 2014, the IRS adopted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights for which Olson long pushed. The IRS has not named a successor. (TaxProToday)
  • Whistleblowers have new online resources to help them understand their rights, as well as to report waste, fraud and abuse. The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) launched the new website. It’s part of Oversight.gov. Council Chairman and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the new website is meant to encourage whistleblowers to continue to come forward. The whistleblower site will be built out further, pending more appropriations from Congress. (Oversight.gov)
  • Senators on both sides of the aisle have questioned Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff nominee Gen. John Hyten’s ability to lead. During his confirmation hearing, senators inquired as to why he continued to enable toxic leadership under his command. Hyten is embroiled in sexual assault allegations and some senators also felt that Hyten was not fully committed to addressing sexual assault in the military since he did not have a solid plan for how he would handle it if confirmed as vice chairman. (Federal News Network)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to close its finance center in Las Vegas and relocate 16 employees to facilities across the country. The EPA said the move will help consolidate its grants and contracting workforce. This comes after the EPA relocated more than 50 Office of Research and Development employees out of Las Vegas facilities it closed last year. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department’s Office of Research and Engineering has launched two new websites on how it is fostering military technological dominance. The first shows off the latest research and technology programs and spotlights offices like the Defense Technical Information Center. The second website highlights the work of the Directorate of Defense Research and Engineering for Advanced Capabilities. The office bridges the divide between technology and actually fielding a capability for warfighters. (DoD)
  • The Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General said it has staffed up its data analytics team, and is looking at artificial intelligence tools to stay ahead of fraudulent spending. DoD Principal Deputy IG Glenn Fine said data analytics tools have also helped the OIG flag phone numbers from callers that have submitted multiple claims to its whistleblower hotline. The IG hotline gets more than 10,000 hotline complaints each year. (Federal News Network)
  • The Census Bureau announced Microsoft has signed on as an official 2020 Census partner. Through Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, Census said it will access a global program focused on protecting systems from hacking, disinformation and misinformation. Microsoft is providing training sessions with cybersecurity experts, conducting an audit of security practices and providing threat intelligence and notifications. The Census Bureau also said it is working with Microsoft to develop a list of search terms related to the 2020 Census so the public can connect with census information more broadly. Together, they are also implementing a process to rapidly identify and address fake websites trying to represent the 2020 Census. (Census Bureau)
  • Another small step has been taken by the Trump administration in its ongoing efforts to reorganize and merge the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration. The administration is moving support functions for two OPM led councils to GSA. GSA will soon manage the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCO) and OPM’s role on the Performance Accountability Council. The executive director of the CHCO Council will still be an OPM employee. GSA already manages several governmentwide chief executive councils. (Federal News Network)
  • Agencies would get more direct customer service feedback from the public under a bill passed by the Senate. The Federal Agency Customer Experience – or FACE Act -would require the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration to develop customers experience surveys for agencies. The FACE Act would also require agencies to publicly post the results of those surveys online. (Hassan/Senate)
  • A lawyer and writer who has argued for selling off the nation’s public lands is now in charge of a nearly quarter-billion acres in federally held range land and other wilderness. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday signed an order making Wyoming native William Perry Pendley acting head of the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau manages nearly 250 million acres of largely wild public lands and their minerals and other resources in vast holdings across the U.S. West. Pendley, a former mid-level Interior appointee in the Reagan administration, has accused federal authorities and environmental advocates of “tyranny” and “waging war on the West.” (Federal News Network)
  • The protest of the second generation IT services contract has been dismissed and denied by the Government Accountability Office. GAO determined the arguments made by Coast-to-Coast Computers that the $ 5.5 billion multiple award contract vehicle violates the Small Business Jobs Act and the agency’s decision not to set-aside the contract did not hold up. GAO said GSA wasn’t required to do a contract consolidation analysis for 2GIT. Lawyers also agreed with GSA’s determination that there weren’t two or more small businesses who were qualified and therefore the rule of two doesn’t apply. It’s unclear if Coast-to-Coast Computers will take the next step and file a protest with the Court of Federal Claims. (GAO)

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