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Top Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are calling on the General Services Administration to terminate its lease for the Trump Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.. That’s because Mazars, a long-time auditor of the Trump Organization, said it can no longer vouch for the accuracy of 10 years of financial statements it prepared for the company. The financial statements the Trump Organization submitted to GSA precede the documents in question. But Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Government Operations Chairman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said the Trump Organization may have misrepresented itself in negotiations with the agency. The Trump Organization officially told GSA last December it plans to sell its lease on the Old Post Office Building.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to federal appropriations. On the plus side, the government won’t shut down this weekend. But the best-case scenario means federal agencies will stay under a continuing resolution for almost half of fiscal year 2022. A spending bill the Senate sent to President Joe Biden’s desk yesterday extends the current CR until March 11. Congressional leaders said they hope to reach an agreement on spending levels for FY 2022 before then. (Federal News Network)
IRS, which is struggling with a backlog of tax returns, scrapped plans to close its Tax Processing Center in Austin, Texas, following a recent recommendation from the Treasury Inspector General on Tax Administration. The National Treasury Employees Union said keeping the center open will help the agency address its backlog of returns, improve the overall level of service to taxpayers, and avoids thousands of IRS employees finding new work. The IRS closed its processing center in Fresno, California, last year. Aside from Austin, it has two remaining processing centers in Ogden, Utah, and Kansas City, Missouri. (Federal News Network)
Navy and Marine Corps officials said they welcome recommendations from a Congressionally-mandated panel on how to reform the Defense budgeting process. The panel is just getting underway. The budgeting chiefs said the two-year planning cycle is slowing the acquisition process. The officials also put some blame on lawmakers for not delivering budgets on time. (Federal News Network)
The military academies continue to see rising numbers in sexual assault and harassment. Schools grooming the military’s next leaders saw sexual harassment reports double and assaults increase by 20% in the 2020-2021 school year. That continues the trend of increasing sexual violence at the military academies, even through the COVID pandemic. Those numbers only account for what was reported and not the number of those who may have stayed silent about their experience. The Defense Department outlined some mitigation efforts including codifying prevention plans into academy policy and providing better reporting resources.
The Office of Special Counsel wants to measure the effectiveness of its Alternate Dispute Resolution program. OSC plans to send two surveys, an initial survey and a follow-up which will go to those who participate in mediation. The first survey has 34 questions about employees’ experience with mediation at OSC, such as, did they understand the process, and did they think the mediator was neutral? The follow-up survey would go out six months later and respondents would have to opt-in to take it. Public comments on these planned surveys are open until March 21.
The first-ever governmentwide pulse survey and the customer experience executive order from December are two of the ways the President’s Management Agenda is taking hold. Jason Miller, the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said three months after launching the initial thinking behind the PMA, the impact on agencies is clear. Miller said in the near-term, OMB will provide specifics around the implementation of the PMA’s priorities. This includes naming the leaders and teams who will spearhead the PMA priorities as well as detailing the action plans and measures that will guide these governmentwide efforts.
White House advisors are preparing to recommend the creation of a new zero trust security program office. The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee said the federal push to adopt zero trust is at risk of becoming an incomplete experiment. So, the committee is set to recommend actions agencies can take to institutionalize a culture of zero trust. The panel’s latest draft report recommends setting up a zero trust security office at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. It also recommends clarifying the alignment between zero trust security principles and federal cyber standards. The committee is scheduled to discuss and vote on the report next week.
The Justice Department has a new leader for investigating crypto crimes. Eun Young Choi will serve as the first director of DOJ’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team. She most recently served as senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. The NCET investigates criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. Along with the new DOJ team, the FBI has also established a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit. Last week, the Justice Department announced the largest financial seizure in its history when it reclaimed over $3.6 billion in allegedly stolen bitcoin.
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ new chief information officer laid out his vision to improve the user experience. Kurt DelBene officially became the VA assistant secretary and CIO just about two months ago. In that short time, he has detailed a simple, but potentially impactful strategy. “I think that transformation of IT into this modern world, which I think where the commercial world is going too, is a huge opportunity for the federal government as whole. I think VA is in a good position to lead here and also be an example of how this is done in the federal government,” he said, which means connecting to stakeholders and making sure they understand one’s vision.