GAO: Agencies need more access to databases to stop improper payments

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

In today’s Top Federal Headlines, the Government Accountability Office says agencies are only getting partial or no access to information they need to help stop improper payments.

  • The system developed by the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget to reduce improper payments doesn’t give agencies full access to databases they need to do so. The Government Accountability Office said the Do Not Pay working system offers only partial or no access to three of the six databases required by the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012. The blockages mostly result from other regulations prohibiting unauthorized access to information within those databases. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter said President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team will meet with Pentagon officials this week. Carter said the Pentagon will work with the team to prepare and welcome the next administration. Trump’s actions as president could reverse some of Carter’s work over the past years. That includes changes to the Third Offset Strategy and the Force of the Future. (Federal News Radio)
  • Head of the Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Jo White will be stepping down at the end of the Obama administration. Appointed back in 2013, her term wasn’t set to end until 2019. It’s likely White and the Trump administration would not see eye-to-eye as Trump has promised to “dismantle” many restrictions on banks and corporations. (Federal News Radio)
  • Almost half of all large agencies will be looking for new CIOs in the coming months. Ten federal chief information officers are working on their resignation letters. Sometime over the next 70 days, CIOs from the departments of Veterans Affairs to Commerce to Homeland Security to the federal CIO will notify the incoming Trump administration of their plans to leave their posts. Why? These agencies are among those with politically appointed CIOs who traditionally exit when a new administration takes office. Under the Obama administration, the number of politically appointed CIOs has ebbed and flowed, but overall grew to 10 today. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agency leadership has encouraged rookie and veteran feds to stay together to meet their mission. Labor Department Deputy Secretary Chris Lu told incoming employees to share their goals with career leadership. Lu said longtime feds thinking of leaving should consider staying put to help with continuity of effort. There are about 60 days left of the Obama administration. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agencies spent more money on the student loan repayment program in 2015 compared to the last four years. At last count, 32 agencies spent $69.5 million on student loan repayment incentives. But the Office of Personnel Management says that’s still less than what agencies spent on the program in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before sequestration. About 9,600 federal employees received incentives in 2015. That’s about 1200 more people than the year before. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • The Government Accountability Office has denied nine separate bid protests for the Defense Department’s next round of health insurance contracts. The TRICARE program is always a magnet for protests because of its size: the latest round, awarded in July to just two companies, is worth $58 billion. But the Government Accountability Office ruled last week that DoD awarded the contracts appropriately, turning back numerous protests from United Health, Wellpoint, and Health Net. The Pentagon expects to begin phasing in the contracts over the next year, but promises it won’t make the cutover until the vendors are ready to take on their new responsibilities, which include tighter integration with DoD’s own health IT systems. (Federal News Radio)
  • A proposed rule aims to ensure contracting officials justify large sole-source contract awards. The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has amended its regulations calling on officers to submit written justification for the award when the value is above, or could possibly reach $22 million. The modification stems from recommendations GAO made back in 2012. (Federal Register)
  • The FBI has signed a licensing agreement for a new source of information. All that twitters may not be gold, but the FBI bought 200 seats for software designed to analyze the daily batch of 500 million tweets. The Advanced Alerting Tool from Dataminr of New York will let investigators search that the FBI calls the complete Twitter firehose, in close to real time. Twitter earlier blocked the CIA from access to Dataminr, citing surveillance concerns. (FedBizOpps)

Questions about moving to the cloud? Chat with FDA Chief Information Officer Todd Simpson on July 25, at 1:30 p.m.