House Dems update whistleblower guide for federal employees

In today's Federal Newscast, Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Ted Lieu (D-CA) updated their whistleblower guide, describing how federal employees in specific agencies...

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  • Two House Democrats put out an updated whistleblower guide for federal employees. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) described how federal employees in specific agencies can safely share information with inspectors general and the press. The resource guide describes whistleblower protections for employees in the intelligence community and other agencies. The two members first introduced this guide back in 2017 and updated it this year. (Rep. Ted Lieu)
  • A group of House Republicans wants to prevent federal unions at the Department of Veterans Affairs from offering new employees cash incentives to join their organizations. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.) introduced the VA Workplace Integrity Act. He said he’s confirmed reports with VA officials, who say the American Federation of Government Employees has used cash payments of $100 to encourage new employees to join the union. House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) is a co-sponsor of the bill. (Rep. Neal Dunn)
  • Twenty new people joined the government, at least temporarily, to help solve some of the tough problems. They’re the seventh cohort of Presidential Innovation Fellows, headed to a program housed in the General Services Administration since 2013. They will work out of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services office, but serve nine agencies on 13 projects including helping VA use artificial intelligence, and modernizing information technology at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as the Food and Drug Administration. (General Services Administration)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency did not violate the law prohibiting the use of federal funding for publicity or propaganda. The Government Accountability Office determined that EPA’s April 2018 tweet about Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation as deputy administrator was not purely partisan communication. GAO said while it included political content, the tweet also provided information about the management of the agency to the public and therefore maintained a connection to EPA’s official business. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The death knell for lowest-price technically acceptable continues to ring. A week after the Defense Department issued a final rule stating when the military can use lowest price technically acceptable or LPTA approaches to contracting, the Federal Acquisition Regulations Council followed suit. The council released a proposed rule specifying when agencies can use LPTA source selection criteria in a solicitation. The draft regulations requires procurements for certain services and supplies like technology, professional services and protective equipment to avoid the use of LPTA. Comments on the proposed rule are due by Dec. 2. (Federal Register)
  • In an effort to get the most out of the internet of things, the General Services Administration is looking at the evolution from 4G mobile connectivity to 5G. Bill Zielinski, assistant commissioner of the Office of Information Technology Category at GSA, said the move to 5G is urgent, since the volume of government mobile data is expected to increase five-fold by the end of 2024. Zielinski said 5G and in IoT also raise new cybersecurity concerns. (Federal News Network)
  • In the event of a catastrophic disaster that brought down parts of the government, GSA does not have a current plan to bring itself, or other agencies, back online. The agency’s inspector general office found GSA’s Office of Mission Assurance hasn’t updated its continuity plan since 2012, and as such is overdue. The IG Office said the latest version of the continuity plan doesn’t address major parts of GSA’s mission, such as providing new accommodations for the Executive Office of the President and federal agencies in the event of an emergency. (General Services Administration Office of the Inspector General)
  • The Defense Department has agreed to put new security controls on a website that contains sensitive information about military members and veterans. The Pentagon made the changes as part of a settlement to a lawsuit by Vietnam Veterans of America. Until recently, the website let visitors anonymously enter names and dates of birth for anyone who’s served in the military and get details about their service history. From now on, users will need to create accounts and supply details about who they are. The system was set up mainly to let financial institutions and other businesses verify whether their customers are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force launched its Justice Information System to keep track of the criminal information of airmen. It was criticized in 2017 after the service lapsed in reporting the criminal activity of a former airman who shot 26 people in a Texas church. The Air Force put together the $5.7 million system in less than 10 months. The service said it will continue to develop the database with additional capabilities. (Air Force)

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