DOJ indicts 3 for impersonating federal employees in $7.5M phone scam

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Republican lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would make it easier to fire federal employees. The bill marks the third time since 2016 that members of Congress proposed legislation to make federal workers at-will employees. The proposal would also abolish the Merit Based Protection Board, an entity that ensures protection for federal employees from management...

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Best listening experience is on Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Subscribe to Federal Drive’s daily audio interviews on Apple Podcasts or PodcastOne.

  • Republican lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would make it easier to fire federal employees. The bill marks the third time since 2016 that members of Congress proposed legislation to make federal workers at-will employees. The proposal would also abolish the Merit Based Protection Board, an entity that ensures protection for federal employees from management abuses. (Federal News Network)
  • The Justice Department busted a scheme of three men who were impersonating federal employees to scam people out of money. DOJ indicted three individuals who are accused of bilking at least 54 victims out of more than $7.5 million. The men allegedly contacted victims by phone and coerced them into believing they were under investigation by federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, SSA, DHS, Treasury and the DEA. The conspirators told these victims that their identities had been connected to a criminal incident, their imminent arrest and/or deportation from the United States had been ordered by law enforcement, and that the only way to avoid arrest and/or deportation was to pay the large sums of money.
  • The General Services Administration will ask college students to propose ideas to achieve universal design in federal facilities, with a goal of improving how everyone accesses federal buildings. The challenge comes from Chuck Hardy, acting chief architect of the Public Building Service, as part of Disability Pride Month in July, which also marked the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hardy said by listening to emerging voices to help solve accessibility issues, the Public Building Service will continue to travel toward a more inclusive federal footprint. Participants can submit ideas through www.challenge.gov.
  • Whistleblowers at the Department of Homeland Security have a new avenue for resolving certain kinds of complaints. The DHS inspector general’s office is launching an Alternative Dispute Resolution program. The voluntary process gives whistleblowers the option of using a mediator, instead of relying on a formal investigation. The program is designed to resolve retaliation complaints filed by DHS contractors, uniformed U.S. Coast Guard members, individuals alleging retaliatory security clearance actions, and other qualified complainants.
  • The first draft of the new Ascend cloud contract vehicle is out for comments. The General Services Administration is sharing more details on the mega cloud services blanket purchase agreement that it’s developing. And it wants industry and agency feedback. GSA released a request for information and details about the draft performance work statement late last week seeking comments. The draft PWS details three functional areas: infrastructure- and platform-as a service; software-as-a-service; and IT professional services. GSA also asked almost 20 other demographic questions about the companies, which might be interested in bidding. Comments on the draft statement of work and responses to the RFI are due by Aug. 8.
  • The problems with the transition to the Unique Entity Identification or UEI are now impacting bidders on the small business Polaris contract. The General Services Administration is telling small firms to start the validation process as soon as possible to avoid issues with submitting Polaris proposals by the due date of Aug. 10. GSA said any companies having problems should contact the Polaris program management office. The transition to the UEI started in April and companies, large and small, are experiencing delays and backlogs to complete the move.
  • Senate appropriators are pressing the Department of Veterans Affairs for more transparency in the rollout of its Electronic Health Record (EHR). The draft spending bill for fiscal 2023 grants the Biden administration’s nearly $1.8 billion request for the EHR rollout, but makes a quarter of those funds available only if the VA keeps current with quarterly reports on cost and performance metrics. The bill also requires VA to provide an update on the lifecycle costs of the project. The VA expects its Oracle-Cerner EHR to launch at 24 VA medical facilities in fiscal 2023.
  • A bill to repeal Social Security’s “evil twins” is teed up for a House floor vote. The Social Security Fairness Act now has more than 290 co-sponsors. The bill would eliminate two provisions of the 1935 Social Security Act that reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefits of more than 2 million retirees. They are the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.),  who introduced the bill said the provisions create a disincentive for workers to choose public-sector careers. “These provisions were put in place and they became punitive against the families who have served the American people throughout their entire career,” Davis said. (Federal News Network)
  • The Defense Department is taking some action to inform service members about abortion options. Service members seeking an abortion in states where the procedure is banned may now have to travel hundreds of miles and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to get the care they need. While the Defense Department is limited to providing abortions to certain circumstances, the Pentagon is trying to help service members who are now more inconvenienced than ever. DoD health officials said they are building a website that will be a one-stop-shop for information on abortion care. DoD is also making a push to provide free contraceptives in all military health facilities. (Federal News Network)
  • Federal agencies spent $10.1 trillion in fiscal 2021, but of that total, nearly $132 billion was not reported, according to USASpending.gov, the official source of government spending data. Additionally, the report found that it’s not always clear how agencies spent the money or even if the data displayed was accurate. Through the 2014 DATA ACT, Congress requires agencies publicly report spending data on the site to create transparency in government spending.

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