Deleted texts get Homeland Security IG probed again

In today's Federal Newscast: Military service members will soon get reimbursed for moving expenses for their pets. A bill advancing in Congress could mean $63 b...

  • The National Archives is probing whether the Homeland Security inspector general deleted official government records. U.S. Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security last week seeking more information about DHS IG Joseph Cuffari’s admission that he deletes texts off his government-issued phone. Cuffari made those comments during a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing earlier this month. Brewer wants DHS to provide a report on Cuffari’s practices and how the department ensures text messages from senior officials are captured as federal records.
  • The Government Accountability Office recommends the Department of Defense update its diversity policies to help eliminate barriers to diversity in its civilian workforce. DoD's civilian workforce has lower percentages of women and members of historically disadvantaged groups when compared to the federal government as a whole. DoD has been working to identify potential barriers to diversity for the last decade, though little progress has been made. GAO further recommends DoD assign roles for tracking barriers to diversity and establish measures for tracking progress toward eliminating such barriers. DoD concurred with the three recommendations.
  • The Postal Service has reached an agreement with one of its unions not to scale back retail functions as part of its ongoing network consolidation. USPS management, in an agreement reached with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), said it will not reduce public-facing customer operations at any post office that faces consolidation under plans to build one-stop-shop, Sorting-and-Delivery Centers across America. APWU said talks are ongoing about staffing issues, but USPS said no layoffs will happen under the consolidation effort.
  • Every year lawmakers order federal agencies to send them thousands of reports. No one is sure if members of Congress actually read them, but pretty soon you will be able to read them yourself. New guidance from the Office of Management and Budget tells agencies they will need to start posting all of their reports to Congress in a single web portal by October — with some exceptions. The website will be managed by the Government Publishing Office, and it will be free to use. The changes stem from the recent enactment of the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act. Government transparency groups have been pushing for the legislation for more than a decade. Congress finally approved it last December.
  • The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is looking to make sure prospective hires receive a firm salary offer before accepting a job offer. VA Undersecretary for Health Shereef Elnahal told reporters that VHA getting a firm salary offer to candidates earlier in the hiring process will vastly increase the agency’s competitiveness, in an attempt to mirror private-sector health care providers who routinely provide up-front pay offers. “That’s not something we’ve been able to do for various reasons up to this point, but we are changing that," Elnahal said. The VHA is also looking to standardize-and-streamline its hiring process across the country. VHA, so far this fiscal year, has hired more than 38,000 new employees.
  • The Department of Homeland Security would see a budget increase under a bill advancing in Congress. The House Appropriations Committee approved a $63 billion fiscal 2024 homeland security appropriations bill yesterday. The GOP-led proposal passed 33-to-25 along party lines. The increases are largely related to immigration enforcement, including additional funding to bring the Border Patrol to 22,000 agents. The bill would also bump the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s annual budget to nearly $3 billion in fiscal 2024.
  • The Coast Guard could make the ocean a safer place if its reporting were a little better. The Government Accountability Office said the Coast Guard should be collecting more information on marine accidents, which could help it evaluate lifesaving equipment and improve marine safety. GAO has 39 recommendations for the Coast Guard to improve its record keeping and management. As of this month, only seven of the issues were addressed. Other recommendations include reporting funding needs for onshore infrastructure, and doing better inspections of gas-carrying vessels.
  • Nominations for the 2023 Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management Federal Agency ERM Awards are now open for submission. Organizations can self-nominate for the ERM Luminary Award, the ERM Notable Achievement Award or both. Nominations are open to U.S. Federal departments including agencies and bureaus, but anything below the bureau level is not eligible. Submissions for nominations close on Aug. 13. The Award ceremony will be held at the AFERM Annual Summit in November.
  • Service members moving to new duty stations will get some help moving their pets in the future. Starting in 2024, the Defense Department will cover some pet-travel expenses for service members going to a permanent change of station. DoD will offer up to $550 for one dog or cat moving inside the continental U.S., and up to $2,000 to move the pet into or out of the continental U.S. The new policy is designed to relieve some of the out-of-pocket expenses service members incur during moves.

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