Rumors targeting Social Security recipients cause inundation of SSA phone lines

A fake news article suggested that beneficiaries would get an immediate $600 payment increase.

  • The Social Security Administration is working quickly to try to dispel a false rumor about a payment increase on Social Security checks. As a result of a fake news article, SSA employees were inundated with phone calls earlier this month from beneficiaries who mistakenly thought they would be getting a $600 payment increase. SSA's phone lines received more than 463,000 calls in one day as a result of the rumor. SSA Commissioner Martin O'Malley has confirmed that the benefit increase is false. There will not be another cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries until January 2025.
  • Agencies have a new tool to make acquisition research a little easier: The Procurement Co-Pilot tool. Contracting officers and program managers now have access to a host of data sources where they can review the prices paid on common products or find vendors across all categories and sizes that currently work with the government. GSA and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy launched the portal only for federal employees through the Acquisition Gateway. The Procurement Co-Pilot is one of several new data-driven tools that are a part of the administration's Better Contracting Initiative.
  • Lawmakers are pressing the Coast Guard for more details about how it handled sexual assault cases. Last year, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee requested all documents related to Operation Fouled Anchor, the Coast Guard’s internal investigation of sexual assault cases at the Coast Guard Academy. Lawmakers said the records provided to Congress are highly redacted and include a large number of duplicates. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan said she is working in good faith with the committee. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting its own investigation into the Guard’s handling of sexual assault cases.
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is dealing with low employee morale, following reports of a toxic workplace environment. An independent report substantiates cases of stalking, harassment and homophobia at the FDIC, based on more than 500 complaints from employees. Jonathan McKernan, co-chair of a special committee FDIC created to oversee the report, said FDIC employees face significant headwinds to do their jobs. “Longer term, the state of affairs at the FDIC, if not fixed are going to be a real problem for retention and recruitment of new staff and that will be fatal to our ability to achieve our mission if we can't fix that," McKernan said.
  • A new bill looks to address a discrepancy in how Transportation Security Administration employees are compensated. The TSA Commuting Fairness Act would require the agency to study the feasibility of using cell phone data to allow employees to clock in when they reach the airport parking lot. Many TSA employees report not being compensated for the up-to-45 minute commute between the parking lot and airport checkpoints. The bill, introduced by Rep. Tim Kennedy (D-N.Y.), was passed by the House Homeland Security Committee yesterday.
  • Beyond looking to make spending cuts, House Republicans are eyeing several policy riders in next year’s spending bills. One policy rider tacked onto fiscal 2025 spending legislation aims to block environmental investments in the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP board has already said that type of change would mean they would have to end the mutual fund window altogether. Another policy rider would add more reporting requirements on federal telework and office space. The GOP-led appropriations committee released its report language for several appropriations bills Wednesday afternoon. House appropriators plan to mark up those government spending bills later today.
  • A record 53,000 women veterans enrolled in health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs over the past year. That is a 20% increase compared to the previous year. VA said those enrollments are driven by the PACT Act, which expands health care eligibility for service members exposed to toxic substances during their military service. Texas, Florida and California saw the most new enrollments. Women veterans are the VA’s fastest growing patient population.
  • The Small Business Administration is keeping in place a COVID-19 moratorium on requiring companies in the 8(a) program to have an established office in a particular location before being awarded a construction contract. SBA said the suspension of the Bona Fide Place of Business requirement will remain in place through September 30, 2025. The reason for the extension, SBA said, is due to workforce shortages, cultural shifts in the workplace and trends favoring remote-work opportunities. SBA said these factors are making it increasingly difficult for small businesses to recruit and retain office-based employees.
  • U.S. Space Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, along with allies and partners, are in the middle of a 10-day multinational exercise in the northwestern Pacific Ocean area called, "Valiant Shield." The exercise allows the military services and partner nations to prepare to rapidly respond to crises, from humanitarian and disaster-related to armed conflict. With the involvement of U.S. SPACECOM and U.S. Transportation Command, the exercise has expanded the multi-domain collaboration needed for large-scale operations. Running through June 18, this is the 10th Valiant Shield exercise.
  • Phone scams are on the rise and now the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says organizations should watch out for phone calls from scammers purporting to be CISA employees. CISA said its staff will never call and request cash, cryptocurrency or gift cards. If you believe you may have been the target of a CISA scammer, the agency said to take note of the number, hang up immediately and notify either CISA or law enforcement.

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