House Veterans Affairs Committee debates bill to put VA facilities under BRAC-like review

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  • House Veterans Affairs Committee leaders made their case for letting the Veterans Affairs Department review its facilities to see which ones should be shut down. They held a hearing on the Asset and Infrastructure Review or AIR act. It would establish a commission to make recommendations for modernizing and realigning VA medical facilities. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs would also have to develop criteria to assess and recommend changes to VA medical facilities. (House Veterans Affairs Committee)

 

  • Employee engagement in the federal workforce went up 2 percent in 2017. It reached a six-year high of 67 percent. It’s the third consecutive year employee engagement is up governmentwide. The latest Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results from the Office of Personnel Management says the Homeland Security Department improved by 4 percent. It’s the biggest improvement of any agency with more than 75,000 employees. (Federal News Radio)

 

  • Agencies really can find ways to collaborate and play nice together. Cross agency priority goals are part of a law requiring the Office of Management and Budget to designate and measure the progress of multi-agency efforts. It turns out, so-called CAP goals work. That’s according to research by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. It looked at 15 cross-agency projects, some support, some mission related, and found, CAP goals did result in performance improvements. (IBM Center for the Business of Government)

 

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  • The Army has appointed a new board of senior leaders to help decide the future of military installations.The fundamental question the board is trying to answer: What should Army bases actually be doing in the modern era? The question is prompted in large part by major, ongoing cuts to the Army’s budget for facility sustainment and modernization. Officials say they need to take a fresh look at the services its bases provide to help prioritize the most vital ones. The Installation Management Board of Directors will be made up of the Army’s vice chief of staff, senior base management officials, and four-star generals representing various other Army interests.

 

  • It’s been a busy week for nominations as President Donald Trump names more. He picked energy consultant Alex Beehler to be the next assistant secretary of the Army for Energy, Installations, and Environment. Trump also tapped recent executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General James McPherson to be the Army’s General Counsel. (White House)

 

  • President Donald Trump tapped John Rood for the defense undersecretary for policy. Rood served as a senior executive at Lockheed Martin. Rood also worked at the State Department and on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. Rood will need Senate confirmation before taking the position. (White House)

 

  • The House passed a bill to let whistleblowers file an appeal in the state where they live or work, rather than in the Washington, D.C. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced the bill. He said the court is typically more restrictive of whistleblowers’ rights. Cummings said a pilot program that first allowed the filing change has been more successful. It would expire in November without congressional action. (Congress.gov)

 

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pleaded his case for more funding for the 2020 census. Ross told the House oversight committee the lifecycle cost for the decennial census is now $15 billion, roughly $3 billion than previously estimated. He also needs an additional $187 million in fiscal 2018 to make significant course corrections in census planning. (Federal News Radio)

 

  • Lawmakers want to get ahead of any potential waste, fraud or abuse in hurricane relief spending. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) are asking OMB and the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general to double down on the oversight of federal money going to hurricane victims. The chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote separate letters to OMB and to the DHS IG seeking assurances of stricter oversight. Johnson and McCaskill want a briefing from OMB on any efforts to limit waste, fraud and abuse. The lawmakers also are asking the DHS IG to give them an early warning of any potential or real problems. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)