Is the White House’s background check process comprehensive enough?

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, a group of Senators want to make sure the White House is conducting thorough enough background investigations for security clearances for its staff.

  • With the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn, and now allegations against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, just how thorough is the White House’s security clearance background check? A group of Democratic senators wants to find out. Led by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), they asked Trump administration officials what specifically went into Flynn’s vetting process to measure its thoroughness. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • Now 81 percent of federal employees say morale is declining or has gotten worse since President Donald Trump authorized a temporary hiring freeze for some agencies. That’s according to a survey from the National Treasury Employees Union. NTEU spoke to nearly 900 federal employees. Of those surveyed, 58 percent of them said their workloads have increased since the freeze was announced. (Federal News Radio)
  • House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), along with 100 other Democratic reps have urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to fight back against budget cuts to his agency. It’s been reported President Trump’s budget plan calls for cutting the State Department’s budget by 37 percent. They want Tillerson to make every effort to counter the idea. (Rep. Steny Hoyer)
  • Some House lawmakers are giving NIST a bigger role in securing federal networks and data. The House Science Committee wants to move the National Institute of Standards and Technology from just recommending cybersecurity best practices to assessing agency progress in using them. Lawmakers approve the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Assessment and Auditing Act. The bill would direct the bureau to complete an initial assessment of the cybersecurity preparedness of agencies. The bill also would direct NIST to provide guidance for agencies in implementing its cyber framework. Additionally, the legislation tells NIST to establish and lead a federal working group to develop metrics to analyze and assess the effectiveness of using the framework. (House Science Committee)
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will co-chair the military families caucus. Kaine will serve alongside Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The caucus is a bipartisan forum addressing the challenges facing Americans with family members who are serving or have served in the armed forces. About 1.5 million families have someone serving in the military. (Sen. Tim Kaine)
  • A new report from the Government Accountability Office said the Navy paid shipbuilders more than $700 million in special incentive fees for work they should have been doing under the basic terms of their contracts. GAO was broadly critical of the way the Navy has used fixed-price incentive fee contracts, which are generally meant to make sure contractors and the government share the burden of any unexpected production costs. But in 40 shipbuilding contracts the office surveyed, 38 wound up with the Navy shouldering more of the expenses of cost overruns than vendors did. That’s partly due to what GAO said were questionable decisions to give additional fees to vendors without much evidence that they were incentivizing better performance. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A deep-dive investigation has cleared military intelligence employees of charges they put out false information. Defense Inspector General Glenn Fine explained to a House Armed Services committee panel that results from a report his office released last month. It found no evidence that analysts falsified memos about U.S. progress against the Islamic State. He called the allegations serious and troubling, and that 30 investigators ultimately couldn’t substantiate them. But Fine issued a long list of recommendations for improving communications and other practices. (Department of Defense)
  • A former Secret Service officer has pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for sex and sending obscene materials. Lee Moore, who was assigned to the White House as part of the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division, was discovered to be communicating with undercover officer posed as minors online, according to the Justice Department. (Department of Justice)
  • An agreement has been reached between the Justice Department and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on WMATA’s treatment of job applicants with disabilities. The transit agency will pay $175,000 to an applicant who alleges WMATA withdrew a job offer when it learned he or she had epilepsy. Metro also agrees to put in new policies regarding disabled employees and applicants. (Department of Justice)