Federal Drive interviews – Nov. 29

Danny WerfelController, Office of Management and Budget

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The White House is congratulating agencies for doing a better job of paying their bills. The Office of Management and Budget says they have cut billions of dollars in improper payments since President Obama took office. They have slashed the governmentwide error rate by a full percentage point. It’s now at 4.3 percent. Preventing and recovering improper payments was one of President Barack Obama’s first major management initiatives. He set a goal of avoiding $50 billion in improper payments by the end of last September.

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Werfel: Gov’t avoids $47B in overpayments

Mary SantiagoDirector, Veterans Employment Services Office

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Every federal agency has an obligation to hire veterans. So it’s logical that the Veterans Affairs Department should set the example for everyone. Mary Santiago is the Director of the Veterans Employment Services Office. She’s retiring after a long federal career and she spoke about how VA has tried to lead the way.

More interviews from the Human Capital Management Federal Training Event.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)

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The Postal Service is the only federal service proscribed by the Constitution. But that doesn’t mean it’s getting the help it deserves from Congress. Connolly said partisan wrangling is preventing passage of a bailout bill.

Jeremy GrantSenior Executive Advisor for Identity Management, NIST

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The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace may not be a household term, but it could change the way families, companies and really anyone conducts business online. Called NSTIC for short, it’s an effort to bring government and industry together to create an online circle of trust. If it works, billions of online transactions could be done more safely. A side bonus: forgetting your password may not be such a hassle.


DoD Report

  • Advocates for military sexual abuse victims are cheering the Senate’s passage of a measure they say would give them greater protection. The amendment to the defense bill would require military services to discharge convicted sex offenders. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sponsored it. She says nearly a third of those who commit sex crimes stay in the military because each service has its own way of handling the situation. She says the Navy’s policy is the best. The Pentagon estimates 19,000 sexual assaults occur each year in the military. (Sen. Gillibrand’s website)
  • The Pentagon has set up a brain bank in order to study repetitive trauma to warfighters’ brains. The idea is create a repository of donated service member brains, but so far, only one brain sample has been collected. In order for this project to succeed, the Pentagon must communicate the importance of brain donation to warfighters and their families to keep the studies going. Army Col. Dallas Hack directs military medical research funding and tells USA Today, because brains decay rapidly after death, permission to receive a specimen must be gotten quickly. The brain bank is part of a new $70 million Center for the Study of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, a joint project of the Defense Department and National Institutes of Health. (USA Today)
  • The Senate has given the green light to the Pentagon’s investment in green energy. It passed an amendment to get rid of a provision in the defense bill that would keep the military from spending money on alternative fuels, if the cost exceeded traditional fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil. The Navy and Air Force have pushed to use more biofuels to operate its aircraft and ships, with military leaders suggesting a greater reliance on alternative sources in the next decade to ease dependence on foreign oil. The Pentagon is pushing for 1.4 billion in next year’s budget for investments in clean energy, including hybrid electric drives for ships, more efficient engines, better generators and solar power. (Associated Press)

Cybersecurity Update

  • Three United Kingdom government departments have jointly won a 2012 U.S. National Cybersecurity Innovation Award given by the SANS Institute. The award recognizes the efforts of the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. They have all taken steps to protect networks, computers and data. The SANS Institute credits the three U-K departments with initiating a program of international cooperation to address critical cyber issues that includes the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department. (SANS Institute)
  • The Navy has set itself up for what it calls “information dominance” over the next seven years. Earlier this week, the Director of Naval Intelligence and the Commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command signed three documents that lay out how the Navy plans to maintain vigilance in cyberspace. The Navy Strategy for Achieving Information Dominance, the Navy Cyber Power 2020 and the Navy Information Dominance Corps Human Capital Strategy together create the strategic plan for Navy’s cyber initiatives. Vice Adm. Kendall Card says the three plans build on existing strategy, but set the course for future cyber warriors. (U.S. Navy)