Monday federal headlines – April 13, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows each day. Our headlines are updated twice per day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon — with the latest news affecting federal employees and contractors.

  • Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan reached a record high of $451 billion. That’s more than double the invested funds of 10 years ago. Participation was also at an all-time high. More than 88 percent of federal employees are contributing to their accounts. That’s up about half a percent from last year. The board that manages the TSP said the high participation is due in part to auto-enrollment. Less than 4 percent of participants have opted out of the TSP. (Federal Times)
  • Agencies are looking for millions of dollars to fund their digital services teams. The Health and Human Services Department wants $10 million and 30 full-time employees for its team. And Homeland Security also wants $10 million but for a 50-person team. The team would be decentralized throughout DHS components and work on open source projects. The Small Business Administration wants $1 million to improve their one-stop-shop portal. The departments of Defense and Energy and Housing and Urban Development have no plans yet to create a digital team. (FCW)
  • Activists called on the Senate to immediately confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general. Rev. Al Sharpton said the groups will go to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)every day until he calls a vote. McConnell said the Senate needs to clear sex-trafficking legislation before holding the confirmation vote. If confirmed, Lynch would succeed Eric Holder. She would also become the first black woman to hold the job. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon wants to modernize its technology using every available tool, especially those in the commercial market. Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen said commercial technology is critical to updating DoD’s cyber and IT systems. The framework behind all of that is the Joint Information Environment. It has a common set of capabilities, services and configurations with a single security architecture. The CIO office also said its mobile workforce is very important. Defense officials said going to the market for commercial IT helps the mobile workforce contribute from wherever they’re located. (DoD)
  • Three good-government groups have joined the call for firing Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser. Last week, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) demanded his ouster. She’s now joined by the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight and the National Whistleblowers Center. In a letter to President Barack Obama, the groups said Zinser protected two deputies who intimidated other employees. They said Zinser failed to act on tips about misuse of government funds by the former chief financial officer of the National Weather Service. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Attorney General warnned the Justice Department that use of prostitutes is a no-no, whether employees are on duty or off. The rule applies no matter where an employee might be, even in a country where paid sex is legal. In a departmentwide memo, Eric Holder said paying for sex and failing to report others who do are firing offenses. Holder’s warning comes in the wake of a tough inspector general report. It detailed Drug Enforcement Agency employees participating in sex parties and accepting gifts from drug cartels. The IG also found sex abuse occurring among employees in several Justice agencies including the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Treasury Department and White House published guidelines for agencies to carry out the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act. The move came about a year after passage of the law. The DATA Act requires agencies to develop modern, interoperable systems for financial reporting. Draft 1.0 of the DATA Act schema has been published on the GitHub sharing site. It includes formatting and sharing standards for several agency financial databases, but not yet contract awards. Treasury said use of the schema would help agencies improve business intelligence and cross-agency analysis and eliminate redundant reporting. (