GOP Senators slam financially strapped Amtrak for paying $75M in bonuses

Out of $75 million in bonuses paid in 2023, about 14 Amtrak executives received more than $200,000 each.

  • Lawmakers are once again probing bonuses paid to federal executives. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) are asking Amtrak leaders to explain why it was appropriate for officials to receive significant pay awards as the federally-chartered corporation deals with financial challenges. In a letter to Amtrak’s chairman, the senators cited reports that Amtrak paid $75 million in bonuses in fiscal 2023. That is about 4% of the rail service's $1.75 billion net loss that year. About 14 Amtrak executives received bonuses of more than $200,000 each.
    (Sens. Cruz, Fischer Demand Answers on Exorbitant Amtrak Bonuses - Senate Commerce Committee Republicans)
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is raising questions about the cybersecurity of federal background investigation systems. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) needs to improve its cyber risk management plans for the government’s background investigation systems, according to a new report from GAO. It highlights gaps in DCSA's cyber plan for both legacy background investigaiton system, as well as the new National Background Investigation Services. DCSA took over responsibility for background investigations in the wake of a 2015 breach that exposed the sensitive data of 22 million feds and contractors.
  • The failure to pass a fitness test will no longer be career-ending for sailors. Under the previous policy, failing two fitness tests would bar sailors from being able to reenlist or be promoted. A new policy allows individual commanding officers to evaluate sailors’ physical readiness and performance. Sailors who fail their fitness test don’t have to have it entered into their annual evaluation. While the service is on track to meet its recruitment goals this year, it has been falling short on its recruitment numbers the past couple of years. The new policy is effective immediately.
  • Federal contract employees for the National Nuclear Security Administration are struggling with workforce diversity. The NNSA’s diversity plans do generally fall in line with existing federal guidance, but the Government Accountability Office says the agency is lagging on diversity-focused training and succession planning. GAO recommends that NNSA, a component of the Energy Department, should update its acquisition guidance to better incorporate long-term practices for diversity improvement. In general, Energy’s diversity goals involve improving their outreach, recruitment, hiring and promotion strategies.
  • The Treasury Department is out with a proposed rule that would restrict and monitor American investments in China for artificial intelligence, computer chips and quantum computing. The notice, issued on Friday, outlines what companies and private citizens would need to disclose to the agency when they are investing in Chinese companies working in those fields. The regulation springs from an executive order President Biden issued last fall on U.S. investments in the Chinese technology sector. Treasury is accepting public comments on the proposal through August 4.
  • A new report finds that so far, the IRS has spent about 10% of the $60 billion in multi-year modernization funds it received in the Inflation Reduction Act. The agency spent most of the money on improving taxpayer services, operations support and updating some of the oldest IT systems still running in the federal government. But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found about a third of those funds went toward the agency’s annual operating expenses.
    (Quarterly Snapshot: The IRS's Inflation Reduction Act - Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)
  • The Department of Homeland Security is calling out threats to U.S. critical infrastructure, including China and artificial intelligence. Those are just some of the priorities in a new strategic guidance memo signed by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this month. It also said agencies should look to establish minimum security requirements for critical infrastructure. The guidance comes as agencies that oversee sectors, including energy and healthcare, develop new risk management plans.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has officially hung up its “help wanted” sign for a new Chief Information Officer. Since former HHS CIO Karl Mathias stepped down from the position in December, Jennifer Wendel has been serving as the department’s acting CIO. The permanent position is now open for applications on USAJobs. The senior executive role will be tasked with leading HHS’ broad modernization efforts and managing one of the largest IT budgets in government. Interested candidates have until July 2 to apply.
    (Chief information officer job announcement - Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Jude Sunderbruch, the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) executive director, has officially retired from federal service. Sunderbruch also retired from the Air Force Reserve on June 1. Prior to his current role, Sunderbruch served as the executive director of the Air Force office of special investigations. DC3 Deputy Director Joshua Black will serve as the interim executive director. DC3 provides a wide range of services to the Defense Department, including cyber training, vulnerability disclosure and cybersecurity support to the Defense Industrial Base.

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