In today’s news, Electronic invoice processing is finally coming to the government, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) calls for the removal of the IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and the Obama administration closes the door in November on a controversial spy program.
Congress has just this work week left until it adjourns for a month-long recess. The to-do list is long. And the Senate has barely finished work on 12 appropriations bills. House Speaker John Boehner says the Congress will have to settle for a continuing resolution this year to avoid a government shutdown in the fall. David Hawkings, senior editor of Roll Call, writes the Hawkings Here blog. He’s keeping an eye on the congressional calendar and tells In Depth with Francis Rose that there just aren’t enough days left before the fiscal year ends.
The Internal Revenue Service has holes that look like Swiss cheese all throughout its business operations. Appropriations at the IRS are down nearly 7 percent over the last four fiscal years. And Congress won’t likely pass an appropriations bill that comes close to the $13 billion President Barack Obama requested for the IR-S in fiscal 2016. Staff at the agency’s Human Capital Office, Office of Chief Counsel, and Small Business -Self Employed Division has already been cut by 16 to 30 percent. Jay McTigue is director of tax issues for the Government Accountability Office’s strategic issues team. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose how years of budget cuts are affecting the IRS.
The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment that would give the Office of Personnel Management an extra $37 million to make IT upgrades sooner rather than later. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) offered the amendment. She said OPM needs to fix its IT infrastructure immediately and described the amendment as “emergency funding”. Zal Azmi is president and chief operating officer for IMTAS Technologies and former chief information officer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose that agencies need to rethink cybersecurity entirely.
For now, former Deputy OMB Director Beth Cobert is in charge at the Office of Personnel Management. She is already talking to congressional leaders about the way forward for OPM and she’s making a good first impression on them. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose that the outreach from Cobert is rather uncommon.
Three federal contractors lost an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals. The DC Circuit upheld a statute banning any one person who enters a federal contract from contributing to a political campaign or party from the time negotiations start to the end of the contract. The contractors argue the decision violates First Amendment and equal protection rights. Nick Townsend is counsel for Arnold and Porter’s national security and public policy practices. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose that the decision leaves a few too many unanswered questions for federal contractors.
In today’s news, Washington-area members of Congress are pushing for lifetime credit monitoring for federal employees affected by the data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management, lawmakers are pushing forward on must-pass highway legislation and the Census Bureau is the latest federal agency to suffer a cybersecurity breach.
The commander of US Cyber Command says he wants to create an effective early warning system for cyberspace – potentially ringing alarm bells when foreign adversaries are preparing attacks on government, or even private networks. But to do it, he says he needs more voluntary sharing of cyber threat information between the federal government and commercial companies. More from Federal News Radio’s DoD reporter Jared Serbu.
Fewer than 70 percent of retirement claims are processed in less than 60 days at the Office of Personnel Management, and estimating just how much you’ll get in retirement benefits can take a long time. Tammy Flanagan is the Senior Benefits Director for the National Institute of Transition Planning. She says it’s smart to have an idea about what your benefits will look like long before leaving. She tells In Depth with Francis Rose about the eight most common reasons why your retirement estimate might be inaccurate.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel says Inspectors General must get permission from their agencies before getting certain documents like grand jury, wiretap and credit information. But Inspectors General say they need independent access to information to do their jobs. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is asking for Congress’ help now by pushing for a bill that would give IGs that access. Brian Miller is the managing director at Navigant and former inspector general at the General Services Administration. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose about some of the contradictions he sees with this OLC opinion.
Aileen Black, host of Women of Washington, counts down the week’s top federal stories with Francis Rose.
In today’s news, the Office of Personnel Management takes the first step to restore the system to process security clearances, two inspectors general ask the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email usage and the government would pay for broader protections for victims of the OPM data breaches under a bill approved by a Senate committee.
The breaches of the Office of Personnel Management’s networks underscore how vulnerable the government is to hackers. Every federal employee can strengthen or weaken the government’s cybersecurity. Federal News Radio’s Emily Kopp asked two experts to share some tips for being safe online during a training conference hosted by Gov Loop. The first voice you’ll hear is Kristina Dorville, the Homeland Security Department’s branch chief for cyber education and awareness. We’ll also hear from Celia Paulsen, an IT security specialist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The House Homeland Security Committee passed the Countering Violent Extremism Act. The bill creates a “Combating Violent Extremism” office within Homeland Security to focus on its international and domestic terrorism programs. Erroll Southers is the director of Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies at the University of Southern California and a former assistant secretary of the Transportation Security Administration. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose that countering violent extremism is important — but the committee should also think about the impacts of homegrown violence.
The Defense Department wants to change some of its personnel policies for the first time in decades. Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Brad Carson is working on series of recommendations as part of the Pentagon’s Force of the Future initiative. Those recommendations are due to Defense Secretary Ash Carter by Aug. 19. Ron Sanders is the vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former chief human capital officer for the Office of the Director for National Intelligence. He tells In Depth with Francis Rose about a war gaming exercise he participated in and what the future of the defense workforce might look like.
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.
Francis has developed multiple popular segments within his show including Federal News Countdown, Industry Chatter and Pentagon Solutions.
Francis also writes a weekly commentary for Federal News Radio. Read his latest columns.