Federal Drive Interviews — Nov. 26, 2012

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Randy Williamson — director of health care issues, GAO

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This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Randy Williamsondirector of health care issues, GAO

The facilities may be better but huge problems still persist at the Walter Reed Medical Center. That’s according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. It has been five years since the Walter Reed scandal broke, exposing poor treatment and neglect of wounded warriors. Randy Williamson, director of health care Issues at GAO, told us about the original problem in 2007 and the remaining problems today.

Tom Cochranblogger, Ghosts of DC

Trivia fans: Do you know which federal building could easily host a marathon in its long hallways? Or which had a faulty elevator that plunged five stories down with a congressman’s daughter inside? Tom Cochran does. He blogs about our region’s lost history on GhostsofDC.org.

Dr. Jacques Ganslerhead of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the University of Maryland

A new degree track launches today at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The master’s degree program will focus on the complicated world of federal acquisition and contracting.

Jeff Nealsenior vice president, ICF International

Jeff Neal, a former federal employee at the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Homeland Security, discusses the results of the 2012 Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Related story: OPM survey: Tight budgets, pay freeze ‘taking toll’ on employee satisfaction

Christi Grimmspecial assistant, Office of the Inspector General

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are paying for more and more alternatives to nursing homes for the elderly and disabled. There’s a troubling side effect: more and more mispayments to these personal care services. Some is outright fraud. Some is just improper payments. Either way, the government is losing billions of dollars at a time when it seems it can’t afford to lose a penny.

Personal Care Services: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Recommendations for Improvement

Daniel Schumandirector, Advisory Council on Transparency, Sunlight Foundation

Now you might think of analyzing big data sets as a slow, boring process. But open data from the federal government helped to power the response to Superstorm Sandy in real time, and that’s just part of the transparency push during the Obama administration.


Cybersecurity Update

  • Cyber Monday shoppers beware. The FBI and Homeland Security Department have sent out warnings that cyber criminals will target holiday shoppers with scams today. NextGov reports, con artists are selling expired gift cards on auction websites in an effort to get your credit card information. The FBI said to watch out for the similar scams on social networks and websites with flash sales. The bureau recommended shoppers always check the user ratings of sellers and to remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. (NextGov)
  • The National Security Agency has responded to a Freedom of Information Act Request from EPIC, seeking the public release of Presidential Policy Directive 20. The Directive, first reported by the Washington Post, is believed to expand the NSA’s cybersecurity authority. In response to EPIC, the NSA argued that the Agency does not have to release the document because it is a confidential presidential communication and it is classified by the NSA. EPIC is litigating similar claims against the NSA, including the release of NSPD 54, a 2008 presidential directive setting out the NSA’s cybersecurity authority. In an official statement to Congress earlier this year, EPIC explained that the NSA was a “black hole for public information about cybersecurity.” EPIC plans to appeal the NSA’s determination. (Federal News Radio)

DoD Report

  • Thousands of pieces of body armor worn by special operations forces are being recalled because they might be defective. Military Times reports, a few of the plates have delaminated, and that can keep them from stopping bullets. The pieces were made by Ceradyne Defense, which discovered the defects. A Special Operations Command spokesman said that no one has been injured because of defective body armor. He said the defect has been found in less than 5 percent of the pieces. The affected products are called Spear Generation Three. (USA Today)
  • Military-connected high school students are getting better access to advanced science and math courses thanks to a nonprofit organization. The National Math Science Initiative has expanded its two-year-old program to more than 50 schools with high populations of military connected students. It’s also offering Advanced Placement English courses. Students who pass a test at the end of the courses can receive college credit. Former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren said AP classes are important for military families because they offer a consistent curriculum for students who frequently change schools and close the achievement gap for minority students. NMSI is also helping out with teacher training, study equipment and lower AP exam fees. It plans to expand the initiative to 80 schools next year. (Armed with Science)