Veterans Affairs forced to take back fired DC medical center director

  • After firing the former director of its D.C. medical center, the Veterans Affairs Department is being forced to take him back. The Merit Systems Protection Board ordered a stay on the removal of Brian Hawkins. He was fired in July for sending sensitive information to an unsecured email account. He’s back on the payroll though while the Office of Special Counsel reviews the case. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will be looking for a new chief information security officer later this month. Sean Kelley, the agency’s current CISO, resigned effective Aug. 18. Kelley has been EPA CISO since January, coming over from the Veterans Affairs Department. He’s expected to move to industry later this fall.
  • The Trump administration’s plan to change out many career federal chief information officers is gaining steam. Jonathan Alboum, the Agriculture Department’s CIO, has been reassigned. Federal News Radio confirmed USDA is transferring Alboum to be the deputy senior procurement executive. Alboum has been USDA’s CIO since June 2015. The agency’s decision to transition Alboum is part of major management reorganization, which also includes the deputy assistant secretary for management Malcolm Shorter and possibly others in the CXO community. Alboum is the second federal agency CIO to be reassigned in the last month, joining Treasury’s Sonny Bhagowalia who moved to the Bureau of Fiscal Service on detail. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal oversight officials are watching for employee engagement during the government reorganization. The Government Accountability Office’s Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff said auditors will take notice if they don’t see any changes in an agency’s organization. Goldenkoff said reform doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller workforce, but it does mean a different one. (Federal News Radio)
  • A defense contractor allegedly billed the Army $50 million in questionable costs. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) sent a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, demanding answers on a consulting contract for training Afghan forces. An audit of New Century Consulting by the Defense Contract Audit Agency found the company billed questionable costs, including seven luxury vehicles, and loft salaries for the CEO and CFO’s spouses. (Sen. Claire McCaskill)
  • The Veterans Health Administration improperly billed veterans and third party payers. A new VA Inspector General report says VHA’s Consolidated Patient Account Center issued 1.7 million inappropriate bills in 2015, totaling over $300 million. The IG said this happened because CPAC did not give billing staff access to the Veterans Benefits Management System. (Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General)
  • Service members with mental health issues are not receiving the care they need.  A RAND Corporation study found just 30 percent of service members diagnosed with depression and 54 percent diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder are receiving the care they need after being identified as high risk for suicide. The study states removing firearms from those individuals can reduce the risk of suicide attempts.  The study looked at 39,000 service members diagnosed with depression or PTSD. Firearms are used in 68 percent of suicides by active-duty service members, according to the Pentagon. (RAND Corporation)
  • Federal lawyers worry about more cases and fewer dollars. Eight in 10 federal, state and local government lawyers expect their workloads to increase in the years ahead. And they anticipate flat or declining budgets in the next two years. That’s according to a survey of public servant attorneys by the legal services firm Thompson Reuters Special Services. Government lawyers say they work on an average of 32 unique legal matters every week, without the luxury to specialize. (Thomson Reuters)
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee got a pat on the back from industry. The Professional Services Council sent a letter of support to the committee for some provisions in its proposed version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. PSC says it supports the bill’s language, which promotes communication between the public and the private sectors and competition among contractors. (Professional Services Council)