Former Commerce manager gets 4 years in jail for taking bribes

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  • A former IT director with the Commerce Department has been sentenced to four years in prison and will have to pay about $225,000 for accepting bribes. According to the Justice Department, Raushi Conrad accepted money to steer data migration contracts to a Virginia businessman while working as the director of systems operations and security within Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. (Department of Justice)
  • There’s no clear sense of how many employees with the Veterans Affairs Department are teleworking. The Government Accountability Office said much of the data in VA’s time and attendance system on telework is unreliable. VA now requires all employees to record their telework hours for each pay period. But it’s not ensuring employees record them properly. Some officials in the Veterans Benefits Administration said they didn’t know about the policy. (Government Accountability Office)
  • GAO has agreed to review Environmental Protection Agency hiring practices. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) requested it take a look at the EPA’s hiring authorities and related ethics compliance requirements for political appointees. The request also includes the Council on Environmental Quality, which is part of the White House. (Sen. Tom Carper)
  • The Office of Personnel Management said federal employees can also donate to relief efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other areas impacted by Hurricane Irma. OPM officially extended a special solicitation issued for Hurricane Harvey. It lets feds collect and administer donation drives outside of the traditional Combined Federal Campaign. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • FEMA isn’t the only federal agency responding to recent hurricanes. Homeland Security’s National Protections and Programs Directorate has sent people to Texas and Florida to help with the restoration of communications. The Education Department has promised regulatory flexibility in the rebuilding of schools. EPA exercised enforcement discretion to let the Tampa Electric Company maintain electrical supplies, even if it breaks air pollution rules. Customs and Border Protection said it’s monitoring ports in Florida to see when they can reopen.
  • A roadmap has emerged to improve the federal Freedom of Information Act process. The General Services Administration’s 18F office is trying to restore confidence and understanding in the federal FOIA process. 18F worked with the Justice Department on a research project to determine what steps could be taken over the short-and long-term to improve FOIA. 18F said one immediate enhancement could be to improve the usability of the request submission process and better prepare requesters for what to expect from the long and complicated process. 18F also recommended adding to the FOIA portal the ability of requesters to see status updates. (18F)
  • Sexual assault is still a big issue in the military. A new report by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) states sexual assault remains pervasive, even as the military works to eliminate it from the service. Gillibrand’s study found that out of 258 cases of sexual assault on the military’s four biggest bases, there was no disciplinarian action taken against anyone who retaliated against a person reporting sexual assault. Gillibrand is offering an amendment to the 2018 defense authorization bill that takes away senior military officer’s authority to decide if a sex crime case goes to trial. (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand)
  • Former employees of a now-bankrupt federal contractor have gotten some good news. The Labor Department said the 167 D.C. employees that FPMI Solutions failed to pay over $3 million in wages during the 2016 summer will get what’s owed to them. Labor’s Wage and Hour Division ensured the money was withheld during the company’s eventual sale to cover those back wages. (Department of Labor)
  • Robert Work, former deputy secretary of defense, has rejoined the Center for a New American Security. He’ll take a position as a senior fellow for defense and national security. Work was CEO of the think tank before joining the Pentagon. CNAS also announced Susanna Blume, former deputy chief of staff for programs and plans to the deputy secretary of defense, is joining as a fellow as well. (Center for a New American Security)