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A whistleblower said the FAA has boosted the chances of a mid-air collision over Florida. As if the Boeing 737 fiasco wasn’t enough, now the FAA is dealing with a whistleblower who said non-compliance with standard air traffic control procedures causes danger. The Office of Special Counsel reported local FAA managers in Jacksonville reacted by changing the procedures instead of getting the controllers to comply. A headquarters investigation confirmed the dangerous situation. But the Special Counsel said the high-risk procedure remains in place. It’s notified Congress. (Office Special Counsel)
Many federal employees say the impeachment hearings have had no impact on their job. A Federal News Network survey does say, however, that more than half are following the hearings to some degree during their work day. Also, 73% are at least a little concerned Congress won’t pass a full-year budget. And about 70% are worried the hearings could prompt a government shutdown. (Federal News Network)
Over half of the House of Representatives is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to return to the collective bargaining table with the American Federation of Government Employees. 228 members told EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler they have serious concerns about EPA’s decision to implement proposals the union didn’t agree to. Their concerns echo similar ones that a group of 41 senators voiced to the EPA administrator last month. (Rep. Paul Tonko)
One senator is making a push to help protect federal employees’ credit scores during future government shutdowns. Senator Chris Van Hollen’s (D-Md.) bill would require financial regulators to urge financial institutions to work with customers who are affected by government shutdowns. He says it took too long for financial guidance to go out during the last shutdown. Representative Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) introduced a House companion earlier this fall. Her bill unanimously passed the House. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
Federal agencies are getting better at making their website language easier for the public to understand, but improvement is still needed. The Center for Plain Language released its annual Federal Report Card to judge compliance with the Plain Writing Act. Twenty-one agencies were graded for writing and organizational compliance. The judges say VA’s suicide prevention page received high marks, but Housing and Urban Development’s rental assistance page needs some work. (Federal News Network)
The General Services Administration says it has overcome many of the initial problems when it moved FedBizOpps to Beta.Sam.Gov. Judith Zawatsky, the assistant commissioner in the Office of Systems Management in GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said a surge team of engineers and other experts addressed code and other problems that slowed the site down. Zawatsky said GSA’s federal service desk received less than 250 calls despite initial concerns over the transition. She said GSA has an agile team of contractors and feds working on two-week sprints to add more capabilities to the site. (Federal News Network)
Veterans Affairs insists it’ll be ready to launch the new electronic health record at its initial go-live site in March. The VA medical center in Spokane, Washington, said it needs additional staff to help with anticipated loss of production from the launch. Members of Congress said they’re cautiously optimistic things will go well. But they’re concerned VA and the Pentagon still haven’t established a joint governance structure and appointed permanent leadership to guide electronic modernization efforts. (Federal News Network)
HUD has paid back more than $1 million to the Technology Modernization Fund, after the agency was loaned $20 million dollars to move some of its legacy IT to the cloud. It stands out as the first agency to pay back the TMF. The agency paid part of the loan back, using cost savings from a project to move five of its business systems from a legacy data center mainframe to the cloud. HUD expects to save up to $8 million annually once the project is complete. (Federal News Network)
Two new deputy chief technology officers have joined the Trump administration. CTO Michael Kratsios has named Winter Casey and Lynne Parker to the roles. Casey had served as the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s assistant director for international affairs, and as a senior adviser for technology policy. Parker previously held the role of OSTP’s assistant director for artificial intelligence.
We’ll soon know which agency will be leading federal IT supply chain information sharing efforts. Federal Chief Information Security Officer Grant Schneider said the Office of Management and Budget is honing in on how it collects and shares supply chain threat information. OMB is also considering if shared services could be used to help smaller agencies fight supply chain threats. This is part of the administration’s implementation of the SECURE Technology Act. (Federal News Network)
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is the new chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. She replaced Congressman Elijah Cummings, who passed away earlier this month. Maloney has served in the House since 1992. Maloney also serves as the chairwoman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets. (House Oversight Committee Majority)
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee want an investigation into possible fraud by a military real estate provider. They want the Air Force to look into allegations of Balfour Beatty Communities falsifying maintenance records to get bonuses. Balfour Beatty manages privatized military housing on some bases. New reports from Reuters and CBS News said Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland is the latest military installation to see doctored records by Balfour Beatty. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) say if Balfour Beatty does not clean up its act they will find a company to replace it. (Senate Armed Services Committee)
The Defense Department is years away from passing its first financial audit. But the Pentagon said the audit process itself is already saving hundreds of millions of dollars. DoD has spent a billion dollars on the audit in each of the last two years, and can’t say when it’ll finally earn a clean opinion. But Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said the process has forced the department to clean up its data, scrub its property books and examine its business processes. He says the Defense Finance and Accounting Service alone will save about $400 million a year by spending less time correcting errors in DoD’s financial transactions. (Federal News Network)
The Navy has a new plan to help integrate its systems. William Bray, a top Navy research official, said the branch will release a digital blueprint to help instill standards for data and its transmission. It will help the Navy use the data to take advantage of new technologies and create better communication. (Federal News Network)
DoD awarded nearly $50 million to 172 universities under the Defense University Research Program for 2020. The program helps the schools with updating their scientific equipment. Among the award winners are the University of Michigan for robotics research and the University of Maryland for directional ultra-broadband infrared radiation studies. (Department of Defense)