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Category management contracts hurt small businesses

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The federal government’s push to increase the number of category management procurement contracts, though good for saving money, can hurt small businesses, according to experts who spoke at the Small Business Administration’s ChallengeHER event promoting women-owned small businesses on Thursday. “Category management is an effort by the federal government to be able to save money,” said Sean Crean, director of the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting. He explained that the government wants agencies to save money by usin... Read More
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NASA IG doubts CIO’s ability to manage IT

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Despite attempts to establish reviews over IT investments, NASA’s IT governance is falling behind, according to a recent agency inspector general report. “In the four years since issuance of our IT governance report and the three years since completion of its own internal review, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has made insufficient progress to improve NASA’s IT governance, casting doubt on the office’s ability to effectively oversee the agency’s IT assets,” the report said. “Specifically, the NASA... Read More
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No Go: Pokemon-costumed man arrested after White House jump

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Kentucky man dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu is accused of trying to jump the White House fence — all in the name of making a YouTube video. Curtis Combs of Somerset, Kentucky, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with unlawful entry. An arrest affidavit says Combs was dressed as Pikachu and told authorities he wanted to become famous and had planned to post a video of it on YouTube. The affidavit... Read More
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House panel: 15 Trump agencies yet to provide travel costs

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee is demanding that 15 federal agencies fully account for senior officials’ travel following reports of costly plane travel by Trump Cabinet secretaries. In letters sent this week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee threatened to subpoena the Agriculture and Justice departments by the end of the month if officials fail to provide all the information requested on the use of government-owned aircraft for personal travel or private aircraft for official travel. ... Read More
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Quarter of emails claiming to be from feds are malicious, unauthenticated, says cyber firm

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WASHINGTON ― Some 25 percent of emails claiming to be from the federal government are either unauthenticated or malicious, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Agari. In the report, Agari notes federal agencies will continue to suffer from excessive malicious emails without the usage of proper Domain-based Message Authentication (DMARC) monitoring policies. The company concluded that 90 percent of the 400 federal domains are vulnerable to these types of threats. ... Read More
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TSA’s agile modernization plan is clunky, overbudget and behind schedule

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WASHINGTON ― The Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security did not perform proper oversight when implementing a new digital strategy for its Technology Infrastructure Modernization (TIM) program, according to the Government Accountability Office. The TSA had intended to incorporate agile software development within TIM, yet the agency failed to define key roles and responsibilities, implement automated capabilities and prioritize system requirements for the effective usage of agile. TIM was initi... Read More
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Senators criticize White House as cyber adviser is no-show

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are criticizing the Trump White House for not allowing its senior cybersecurity adviser to testify before the Armed Services Committee. At a hearing Thursday, GOP committee chairman John McCain of Arizona said the White House cited executive privilege and longstanding precedent against having staff not confirmed by the Senate appear before congressional oversight panels. Rob Joyce is President Donald Trum... Read More
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Blockchain: Is government shackling itself to the wrong technology?

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For federal agencies, the digital ledger technology known as blockchain is generating a lot of heat but not much light. There’s buzz, but not a lot of practical demonstration. High hopes, but no sure guarantee that blockchain will make government better, safer, smarter. In the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, for instance, IT architect Debbie Bucci sees potential here, but she’s treading with care. ... Read More
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US tourist fears he suffered sonic attack in Cuba, years before diplomats

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Sonic attacks: Hear what Americans heard in Cuba health attacks It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. AP shares recordings of what some U.S. officials heard in Cuba 'health attacks.' CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Chris Allen’s phone started buzzing as word broke that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a U.S. government worker at Havana’s Hotel Capri. Allen’s friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before. The t... Read More
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Culture of harassment at National Parks Service, according to employee survey

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A September Work Environment Survey at the National Park Service found that 38.7 percent of respondents had experienced some form of harassment in the past year, among which gender harassment was the most prevalent. This data represents the absolute lowest estimate of employees who believe that they were harassed or assaulted while working for the National Park Service, as approximately half of the employee population did not return usable or any questionnaires... Read More
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Nominee for OPM chief outlines what he will do for federal employees

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The nominee for director of the Office of Personnel Management, Jeff Pon said during a Senate hearing on Wednesday that he aims to cut down the significant lag times in employee hiring, retirement payments and benefits claims if confirmed to the post. “I think the frustration of processing benefits or background investigations or even retirement is unacceptable. We do need to do a better job in doing that,” said Pon. According to... Read More
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Microsoft adds classified, blockchain, more to government cloud platform

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WASHINGTON ― At its 2017 Government Cloud Forum, Microsoft announced new advances for its Azure Government program, a U.S. government-based cloud system. These included increasing the support for highly-classified workloads to more federal agencies, increased cybersecurity capabilities and the implementation of advanced technologies such as Blockchain, High Performance Computing (HPC) and Citrix Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. ... Read More
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Trump indicates Fed search down to 5 finalists

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is likely to make his selection for the next Federal Reserve chairman from five candidates, a group that includes current Chair Janet Yellen. “I would say within those five, you’ll probably get the answer,” he said when asked by a reporter if he is considering other candidates. Before Trump met with reporters in the Rose Garden, a White House official speaking on c... Read More
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White House: VA’s Shulkin not a candidate for HHS secretary

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who is under investigation for taking a 10-day trip to Europe that mixed business with sightseeing, is not being considered for the top job at Health and Human Services, the White House said Wednesday. Shulkin has been cited in media reports as a leading contender to replace former HHS Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last month following an outcry over his use of costly private planes for official travel. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Shulkin ... Read More
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Employee survey finds high harassment rates at the National Park Service

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A September Work Environment Survey at the National Park Service found that 38.7 percent of respondents had experienced some form of harassment in the past year, among which gender harassment was the most prevalent. This data represents the absolute lowest estimate of employees who believe that they were harassed or assaulted while working for the National Park Service, as approximately half of the employee population did not return usable or any questionnaires... Read More
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Federal union slams VA health reforms as dangerous for vets

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WASHINGTON — Officials from the largest federal workers union slammed Veterans Affairs officials’ new health care reform plan as “a total dismantling of the department” that would jeopardize veterans services. “It’s taking resources out of VA and shifting them into the private sector,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “It’s voucherizing veterans health care.” ... Read More
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Trump: Drug czar nominee pulls his name from consideration

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Tom Marino, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s drug czar, has withdrawn from consideration following reports that he played a key role in weakening the federal government’s authority to stop companies from distributing opioids. “He didn’t want to have even the perception of a conflict of interest with drug companies or, frankly, insurance companies,” Trump told Fox News Radio in an interview Tuesday, shortly after breaking the news on Twitter. ... Read More
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Trump says he’s ‘close’ to naming new HHS nominee

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he’s “more than close” to naming a new health and human services secretary. But Trump tells Fox News Radio’s Brian Kilmeade in an interview Tuesday that he’s not ready to reveal a name because the individual’s background needs to be looked into a little bit more. Trump says that if the Senate approves his eventual choice “it will be a fantastic, a fantastic nomination.”... Read More
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Democrats accuse EPA’s Pruitt of misusing taxpayer funds

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Top-ranking Congressional Democrats are calling on a federal watchdog to review whether Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt broke the law by making a video for a private group opposing an Obama-era clean-water rule. Pruitt flew to Colorado for an August event organized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an industry trade association representing cattle producers. While at the ranch, Pruitt recorded a video urging the group’s members to file comments supporting the repeal of EPA’s... Read More
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VA officials promise they’re not looking at benefits cut this year

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WASHINGTON — Months after Veterans Affairs officials dropped plans for a controversial benefits cut, the families of those who would have been affected still fear they could lose thousands in monthly payouts. Confusion over the short-lived plan this week forced department leaders to issue a letter to veterans groups clarifying they will not change the Individual Unemployability program in fiscal 2018, and are looking for other cost-saving solutions in the future. ... Read More
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VA releases plans for sweeping health care overhaul

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WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs officials on Monday presented Congress with their formal plan to ease rules concerning veterans seeking medical appointments outside the VA system at government expense, potentially sending tens of thousands of new veterans into the private sector for care. The proposal once again raises questions about the long-term goals of the VA medical system and potential privatization of veterans care, issues that have already caused infighting among some veterans groups and Capitol Hill lawmakers. ... Read More
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Supreme Court agrees to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take on a major dispute over the government’s authority to force American technology companies to hand over emails and other digital information sought in criminal probes but stored outside the U.S. The justices intervened in a case of a federal drug trafficking investigation that sought emails that Microsoft keeps on a server in Ireland. The federal appeals court in New York said that the emails are beyond the reach of a search warrant issued by an American judge. ... Read More
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5 ways agencies can promote cyber hygiene from within [Commentary]

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With National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) happening this October, we must remind ourselves and others that no one is too cyber sophisticated. Cyberattacks are on the rise. Everyone is susceptible to these attacks. Recent industries affected include education, healthcare, businesses and government. The message is clear – staying safe and secure online is our shared responsibility. It is key for everyone, specifically feder... Read More
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Senate set to approve Callista Gingrich as Vatican envoy

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WASHINGTON — The Republican-led Senate is on track to confirm Callista Gingrich as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican. A vote on Gingrich’s nomination to the post is set for Monday evening. Callista Gingrich is the wife of former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He’s a close ally of Trump’s. She’s pr... Read More
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Sonic attack on US diplomats? Cubans don’t believe it

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Sonic attacks: Hear what Americans heard in Cuba health attacks It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. AP shares recordings of what some U.S. officials heard in Cuba 'health attacks.' HAVANA (AP) — A bizarre string of attacks on diplomats in Havana has sent U.S. relations with Cuba to their lowest point in decades, with the Trump administration virtually closing its embassy here and expelling Cuban officials from Washington. The U.S. is talking ever tougher, with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly saying that Cuba “could sto... Read More
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Justices to hear government’s email dispute with Microsoft

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is intervening in a digital-age privacy dispute between the Trump administration and Microsoft over emails stored abroad. The justices said October 16 that they will hear the administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Microsoft. The court held the emails sought in a drug trafficking investigation were beyond the reach of a search warrant because they were kept on a Microsoft server in Ireland. ... Read More
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Virginia man indicted for allegedly threatening to kill government officials

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William Lewis Weaver II was charged with two counts of threatening to assault and murder federal officials, officers and employees after allegedly posting several tweets in late August and early September. The tweets threatened use of bombs and a shotgun and were targeted at employees of the CIA and State Department, as well as Virginia law enforcement officers, according to the Department of Justice press release on the indictment. ... Read More
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Federal employee satisfaction on the rise

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Government employees are increasingly satisfied with their jobs in the federal government, according to results in the Office of Personnel Management’s 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The 2017 global satisfaction index for the entire government was rated at 64 governmentwide, up three points from the previous year’s score. Individual government agenc... Read More
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Trump: DHS secretary nominee needs ‘no on-the-job training’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Thursday introduced his choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a former staffer at the sprawling post-9/11 federal agency who he says will need “no on-the-job training” for the lead role. Trump also called on Congress to “put politics aside” and confirm deputy White House chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen by a “strong, bipartisan vote.” But even before Trump had for... Read More
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US Border Patrol tests surveillance balloon

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SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Border Patrol is considering a surveillance balloon that can be quickly moved to spot illegal activity, part of an effort to see if more eyes in the sky translate to fewer illegal crossings. Agents in Texas recently finished a 30-day trial of the camera-toting, helium-filled balloon made by Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a small startup that named former Border Patrol chief David Aguilar to its board of directors in January. The 3-year-old, money-losing company gave Aguilar options that may prove lucrative if... Read More
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The sound in Havana: What Americans heard in Cuba attacks

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Sonic attacks: Hear what Americans heard in Cuba health attacks It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. AP shares recordings of what some U.S. officials heard in Cuba 'health attacks.' WASHINGTON (AP) — It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. But not quite. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: Some hear multiple, distinct tones colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect. The As... Read More
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Commerce chief: Billions more dollars needed for 2020 Census

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration acknowledged on Thursday that billions more dollars are “urgently needed” to ensure a fair and accurate count during the 2020 Census. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a House panel that new cost estimates show the 2020 Census will cost $15.6 billion, about 27 percent more than earlier projections. Among the factors for the higher cost estimates, according to Ross, are tightening lab... Read More
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House passes TSP Modernization Act

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The House on October 11 passed the Thrift Savings Plan Modernization Act, which would give federal employees enrolled in the government retirement plan greater flexibility in withdrawing funds. “Employees have a lot of options when investing their TSP funds, but when it comes to withdrawing the funds, the options are much more limited,” said Rep. Steve Russel, R-Okla., on the House floor. “Current statutory rules preclude emplo... Read More
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House passes FITARA extension

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The House passed the FITARA Enhancement Act with a vote of 418-0 on Wednesday night, a bill that would extend or eliminate many of the sunsetting provisions of the original Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. “Passage of the FITARA Enhancement Act sends a message to agencies that Congress is committed to the successful implementation and oversight of FITARA, and agencies will not be allowed to run out the clock on FITARA’s strict data center consolidation and reporting requirements,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D... Read More
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Congressmen question DoD takeover of security clearance investigations

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The Department of Defense’s planned takeover of its security clearance investigations from the National Background Investigations Bureau may only add to the clearance backlog rather than alleviate it, according to concerns expressed by members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Though DOD has put out a plan for how it would take over investigations, it has yet to issue much in the way of an argument as to why it should do so. There are much clearer reasons for why it should not,” said Rep. Jody Hice, R-... Read More
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Trump nominates AccuWeather CEO to head US weather agency

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of a private weather company to head the government agency that oversees the National Weather Service, an organization the nominee has at times clashed with. Barry Myers, who runs the pioneering weather firm AccuWeather, was chosen as undersecretary of Commerce and head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The weather service is part of NOAA. “Ameri... Read More
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Trump nominates chief of staff’s deputy to lead DHS

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President Donald Trump Wednesday evening nominated Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as his next secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen is currently the White House principal deputy chief of staff. Nielsen formerly served as John Kelly’s deputy when he held the post of Trump’s first DHS secretary. She moved with Kelly to the White House when Trump tapped him as chief of staff. ... Read More
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Deloitte disputes reports that government clients were impacted in data breach

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Deloitte is disputing claims that a recently discovered hack on their server exposed the information of government agencies, as was reported Tuesday by The Guardian. “We are confident that we know what information was targeted and what the hacker actually did. Very few clients ― none from the government ― were impacted,” Deloitte spokeswoman Megan Doern told Federal Times. According to an anonymous source in the Guardian arti... Read More
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Elbit Systems of America, CBP in talks for expanded surveillance along US-Mexico border

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WASHINGTON — As the Trump administration reignites the debate about a wall along the southern border, the company already leading the technology surveillance rollout between Arizona and Mexico stands ready to do more — and is in talks with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to do so. Elbit Systems of America, the U.S. subsidiary of Elbit Systems headquartered in Israel, won the contract from U.S. Customers and Border Protection in 2014 to install a technology-based system – a combination of towers, sensors, radars, cam... Read More
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NIST fails physical security test

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s physical security repeatedly failed to keep undercover agents out of restricted areas of NIST campuses, according to an assessment by the Government Accountability Office. “GAO, as I understand it, remains concerned that the police services group and the security structure within NIST has not received proper scrutiny,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, at an Oct. 11 hearing on the report. “A concern that is bolstered by the revelation that GAO agents successfully penetrate... Read More
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Elbit Systems of America, CBP in talks for expanded surveillance along U.S.-Mexico border

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As the Trump administration reignites the debate about a wall along the southern border, the company already leading the technology surveillance rollout between Arizona and Mexico stands ready to do more – and is in talk with the Homeland Security Department to do so. Elbit Systems of America, the U.S. subsidiary of Elbit Systems headquartered in Israel, won the contract from U.S. Customers and Border Protection in 2014 to install a technology-based system – a combination of towers, sensors, radars, cameras, and communications... Read More
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Judge to weigh Menendez dismissal bid when government rests

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NEWARK, N.J. — When the government rests its case against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., whether it moves forward or is dismissed without the defense having to call a witness will hinge on how the judge interprets a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that already has helped reverse several politicians’ corruption convictions. Menendez is charged with accepting free flights on a private jet and other gifts from a wealthy friend in exchange for pressuring government officials to take actions favorable to the friend’s business interests.... Read More
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IG: Census Bureau needs a better way to assess canvassing errors

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The Census Bureau needs to do a better job of assessing errors during canvassing, according to an audit by the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General. The audit identified two problems with the bureau’s Interactive Review Address Canvassing Operation. One involved how to assess error rates as part of a draft quality assurance plan of the 2020 Census Detailed Operational Plan. “Because neither plan defined the error rate, bu... Read More
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Government Ethics Office ‘concerned’ over recent leadership behavior

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In a memo to agency heads, the acting director and general counsel for the Office of Government Ethics, David Apol, expressed concern that “actions by government leadership have harmed perceptions about the importance of ethics” within the federal government, and he stressed the importance of ethical behavior by leadership. “I encourage you to consider action to re-double your commitment to ethics in government,” wrote Apol. “The citizens we serve deserve to have confidence in the integrity of their government. The publi... Read More
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Trump admin, China reaffirm commitment to 2015 cyber agreement

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Trump administration and Chinese officials met on Oct. 4 to discuss a 2015 agreement between then-President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, reaffirming the countries’ commitment to preventing cybercrime. At the first ever U.S.-China Law Enforcement Cybersecurity Dialogue (LECD), U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke met with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun. “Bo... Read More
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CBO: Federal budget deficit rises to $668B

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government ran a $668 billion budget deficit for the just-completed 2017 fiscal year, according to a new government report. That’s $82 billion more red ink than the government produced last year. The Congressional Budget Office based its findings on preliminary Treasury reports. The worsening deficit picture comes as Congress digs into its pockets for tens of billions of dollars more for hurricane relief. Lawmakers are also wo... Read More
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Mulvaney says Trump better served by more disciplined West Wing

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House adviser says new chief of staff John Kelly has brought more discipline to West Wing operations, to ensure President Donald Trump gets “accurate” information that’s “ready for him to act on.” Budget director Mick Mulvaney contends “there was never that much drama in the first place” under Trump’s first set of advisers. Mulvaney isn’t saying Trump was getting “bad info” before Kelly took over, but “it jus... Read More
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Energy Department details Perry’s trips by air

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department says Energy Secretary Rick Perry has taken at least six trips on government or private planes costing an estimated $56,000. The report comes as top officials in the Trump administration undergo scrutiny for their use of costly private or military air travel at taxpayers’ expense. Three of Perry’s trips were on government planes, including one on an Energy Department plane to the Hanford nuclear site in Washington s... Read More
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EPA watchdog expands probe of Pruitt’s travel

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is expanding an inquiry into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s frequent taxpayer-funded travel, the watchdog office said Friday. The review will now include all travel by Pruitt through Sept. 30 as the office examines whether Pruitt followed EPA travel policies and whether those policies are sufficient to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. Previously, the inspector general was focusing on Pruitt’s travel to his home state of Oklahoma through July 31. ... Read More
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US: A few visitors to Cuba claim symptoms similar to health attacks

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has received “a handful of reports” from American citizens who say they’ve experienced symptoms similar to those in attacks of U.S. government workers in Havana, a State Department official said Friday. The U.S. isn’t vouching for the reports. In a security notice Friday to American citizens, the State Department said Americans who believe they may have symptoms after visiting Cuba should “consult a medical professional.” ... Read More
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Census CIO Kevin Smith: How IT is changing the bureau and the count

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Census CIO’s top priorities Census CIO Kevin Smith on his first priority when joining the bureau and his top focus since. The 2020 census will be here shortly, and the Census Bureau’s new CIO, Kevin Smith, is charged with making sure the technology is there to support this effort. Smith sat down with Federal Times to talk about the new technologies Census will be fielding and what this means for the rest of the bureau. What was your first priority when you go... Read More
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How the White House expects agencies to meet the latest national security memo

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A recently released presidential memorandum on national security will make the leadership of both intelligence and civilian agencies responsible for developing the technical architecture and policy framework to improve the sharing of national threat identification information, an effort that will have to span the many formats currently used by agencies for national intelligence. “I’m expecting that there will be challenges on mul... Read More
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Treasury’s IG probing allegations of illegal surveillance on US citizens

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department’s inspector general said Friday it is looking into allegations that a Treasury Department agency has been illegally looking at the private financial records of U.S. citizens. Buzzfeed, a news website, is quoting unnamed government sources as saying that Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has “repeatedly and systematically violated domestic surveillance laws by snooping on the private financial records of U.S. citizens and companies.” ... Read More
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House budget resolution puts feds’ benefits in jeopardy

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The budget resolution passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, touted by members of the Republican party as the beginnings of tax reform, places a $32 billion burden on the benefits of federal employees, according to National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) legislative director Jessica Klement. “The stage is set for them to pay for the tax reform,” said Klement, explaining that the resolution places a $... Read More
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Report: Transportation secretary used government planes, not cheaper flights

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has used government planes instead of cheaper commercial airline flights seven times in the past eight months, according to The Washington Post, the latest revelation involving Trump administration officials’ use of expensive air travel at taxpayers’ expense. The Post reported Thursday that Chao used the government planes to fly to Paris for an annual air show and to Sardinia for a meeting of industrialized democracies. Other destinations included cities within an hour’s flight of Washington.... Read More
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Senators call on IRS to halt contract with Equifax

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Seven members of the Senate Banking Committee are asking the Internal Revenue Service to rescind a $7.25 million contract with Equifax. The senators say the awarding of the contract shows a clear disregard for millions of Americans who had their personal information stolen. The contract came to light as Equifax’s former chief executive made the rounds at a series of congressional hearings this week on a data breach that affected 145 milli... Read More
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GPO acting CIO named officially to the position

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The U.S. Government Publishing Office announced Thursday that Tracee Boxley would move from her role as acting chief information officer to the office’s official CIO. “Tracee has provided great leadership and a steady hand to our IT department during the last 11 months and I am proud to name her our new CIO,” said GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks. “Tracee’s IT background and knowledge of GPO will provide leadership to this critical position, as the agency continues to meet the ever-changing technology requirements of Congress, federal agencies, and... Read More
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House passes $4.1T budget plan

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The House has passed a $4.1 trillion budget plan that promises deep cuts to social programs and Cabinet agency budgets, but whose chief purpose is to set the stage for a comprehensive GOP overhaul of the U.S. tax code later this year. Republicans controlling the chamber have no plans to actually implement those cuts, however. Instead, the budget plan’s chief purpose is to set the stage for a tax overhaul plan that is the party’s top political priority as w... Read More
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Postal Service employee sentenced for marijuana mail scheme

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A former U.S. Postal Service station manager has been sentenced to 97 months in prison for his role in a network that delivered hundreds of pounds of marijuana from West Coast drug producers to customers in Washington, D.C. Deenvaughn Rowe, 48, of Odenton, Maryland, faced drug and bribery charges. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to four years of supervised release and a $64,000 fine on top of his eight-year prison term. Rowe’s sentencin... Read More
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Survey: Government has a career leadership problem

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Government has a problem with attracting senior leadership, promoting the right people to lead and providing those leaders with the right development opportunities, according to a recent survey by Deloitte and the Senior Executives Association. The survey, “State of Senior Career Leadership,” includes the responses of more than 750 federal leaders and found that many respondents are anxious to see improvements in their age... Read More
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Feds will have higher premiums, more health plans in 2018

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The Office of Personnel Management released a 2018 Federal Employee Health Benefit plan Wednesday that includes a 6.1 percent increase, or an additional $9.04, in premium contributions for federal employees. The total FEHB premium increase will be 4 percent for 2018, 0.4 percent less than the 2017 increase. “That 4 percent average compares favorably to certain surveys of projected cost increases in private sector employer health group coverage,” said Alan Spielman, director of healthcare and insurance at OPM. ... Read More
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2017 CFC kicks off with new fee setup, fewer charities … and delays

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The Combined Federal Campaign has kicked off its annual pledge season with some major changes designed to benefit givers, but without a full charity list or a promised web portal that would let donors search available nonprofits. Nearly half of the charities that participated in 2016 won’t return, said Patrick Maguire, whose Maguire/Maguire firm provides support services for 22 independent charitable federations. ... Read More
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Senators: Probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion ongoing

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Leaders of the Senate intelligence committee said Wednesday that they have not determined roughly nine months into their investigation whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election. “The issue of collusion is still open,” said the Republican committee chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, who along with the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, provided an update on a congressional investigation that was launched the same month as President Donald Trump was inaugurated. ... Read More
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Federal employees to see 6.1 percent increase in health care premiums for 2018

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The Office of Personnel Management released a 2018 Federal Employee Health Benefit plan Wednesday that includes a 6.1 percent increase, or an additional $9.04, in premium contributions for federal employees. The total FEHB premium increase will be 4 percent for 2018, 0.4 percent less than the 2017 increase. “That 4 percent average compares favorably to certain surveys of projected cost increases in private sector employer health group coverage,” said Alan Spielman, director of healthcare and insurance at OPM. ... Read More
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House Republicans seek travel records for 3 Interior chiefs

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee are asking the Interior Department to provide documents on use of private charter flights for government business by Interior secretaries dating to 2009, when President Barack Obama took office. Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas said they are seeking the information following news reports that Trump administration officials, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, used non-commercial flights costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Bishop chairs the Natur... Read More
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Military treatment facilities need to work on management plans, says GAO

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The Department of Defense’s military treatment facilities are changing management, but better definitions of operational functions and organizational structures are needed to avoid issues, cautions a Government Accountability Office report. The Defense Health Agency has made progress accepting administrative responsibility for the MTFs, acknowledges GAO. However, significant work remains to complete the implementation plan by its March 1, 2018, deadline. The... Read More
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US orders 15 Cuban diplomats to leave in response to ‘health attacks’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States expelled 15 of Cuba’s diplomats Tuesday to protest its failure to protect Americans from unexplained attacks in Havana, plunging diplomatic ties between the countries to levels unseen in years. Only days ago, the U.S. and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes. Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as invisible, unexplained attacks threaten delicate ties between the Col... Read More
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There’s a looming political appointee gap … does it matter? [Commentary]

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A Deficit of Appointees … by design or default? President Trump says he won’t fill many political appointments in his new administration. I don’t know whether that decision was by design or default, whether it was the cause or the result of the glacially slow pace of those appointments, but either way, it means fewer political appointees. It also means that career executives will be in charge, whether we like it or not. Does that matter? ... Read More
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New top tech exec starts at OPM

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David Garcia has been named chief information officer of the Office of Personnel Management, according to an announcement by OPM acting Director Kathy McGettigan. Garcia takes over as OPM CIO from Dave DeVries, who left the position in September 2017 after a year of service. Garcia formerly worked as the Maryland State CIO and Cabinet Secretary for Infor... Read More
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Audit says federal transparency website isn’t accessible enough

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The federal government’s effort to make federal spending more transparent needs to be more accessible, according to a Department of Treasury Inspector General audit. The audit examined the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s effort to create a governmentwide financial management office, as well as to improve the USASpending.gov website. In particular, auditors examined the Fiscal Service’s USASpending.gov Enhancement Project. “The Enhancement Project, as ex... Read More
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New site showcases everything feds do wrong

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Federal inspectors general have launched a new website that will serve as a centralized public library for IG reports. The Oversight.gov website provides “a ‘one stop shop’ to follow the ongoing oversight work of all IGs that publicly post reports,” said the announcement from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. “It also enables users to access more than 5,800 previously-issued IG reports, a number that will continue to grow as IGs issue new reports.” ... Read More
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US to tell Cuba to remove diplomats in response to ‘health attacks’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Only days ago, the United States and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes. Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as uncanny, unexplained attacks threaten delicate ties between the Cold War rivals. The Trump administration will tell Cuba on Tuesday to withdraw 60 percent of its diplomats from Washington, American officials said. The move is a direct consequence of last week’s U.S. move ... Read More
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US spies in Havana also hit by bizarre health attacks

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HAVANA (AP) — Frightening attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana struck the heart of America’s spy network in Cuba, with intelligence operatives among the first and most severely affected victims, The Associated Press has learned. It wasn’t until U.S. spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said. ... Read More
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FCC chairman appoints new CTO

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai appointed Dr. Eric Burger to serve as the agency’s chief technology officer. “The FCC’s work lies at the crossroads of technology and policy. That makes it vital that we have at our disposal the technological expertise to make the right policy calls for the American people,” said Pai. “I am pleased that Eric has agreed to join our team and lend us his vast expertise. From stopping robocalls to facilitating the transition to next-generation networks, the FCC has important work to do for American c... Read More
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Audit finds SEC ‘wasted’ funding on data center migration

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An Inspector General audit of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s handling of 2012-2013 data center relocations found that the agency’s failure to follow outlined steps in a contractor-developed plan resulted in potentially wasted funding. In 2008 the SEC paid a private contractor $162,000 to develop a plan for relocating its data centers. The report found that the agency’s failure to adhere to timelines on this plan prevented its data providers from meeting agency needs. ... Read More
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Interior watchdog investigating Zinke over charter flights

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department’s office of inspector general says it is investigating Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of charter flights. Zinke disclosed last week that he has taken three charter flights, including a $12,375 late-night trip from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana. A spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office, Nancy DiPaolo, says the office is investigating. ... Read More