Treasury Sec. Mnuchin not out of the woods yet for travel habits

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  • A second investigation into Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s travels has been launched by the agency’s inspector general. CNNMoney reports Treasury’s IG Counsel Rich Delmar said their office is requesting more records after it was discovered Treasury had not given all the details about a trip Mnuchin took to Trump Tower in New York back in August. The trip cost taxpayers $15,000. (CNNMoney)
  • The Trump-Pence transition team didn’t spend any of its $1 million for political appointee orientation and still has more than $4 million in transition funding to use. The Government Accountability Office’s review found the team met some of the requirements of the Presidential Transitions Act. But it only implemented some of the recommendations from the Office of Government Ethics. Most notably, the transition team did not have a dedicated government ethics expert to reduce the ethical risk for incoming officials. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Office of Government Ethics has reminded agency leaders they’re supposed to be good role models of government ethics. Acting OGE Director David Apol said he’s concerned actions from agency leaders are harming the public’s perception of government ethics. Apol’s memo to management includes suggestions for better promoting an ethical culture. (Office of Government Ethics)
  • A report from the Government Accountability Office said the Energy Department and NASA need to work together to improve the process for producing a particular kind of plutonium isotope, used for space travel. The report said NASA has enough plutonium-238 to last it for the next few years. But DoE faces many technical hurdles to reaching the goal of producing 1.5 kilograms of Pu-238 a year by 2025. (Government Accountability Office)
  • It looks like 2018 will be a big contracting year for the Defense Department. Agencies are expected once again to spend more on procurement this fiscal year. Market research firm Deltek estimates federal contract spending could top $500 billion in 2018. This would be the first time since 2012 that agencies reached the half-trillion mark. Government contractors will be following the money to the Defense Department. Deltek said DoD opportunities account for about 71 percent of all expected procurement actions this year. The firm also estimates that 91 percent of all contracts will be follow-on opportunities.
  • More than 110 lawmakers want to know who advised President Donald Trump on his military transgender ban. Since the ban was announced in July, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer have spoken out against it. The lawmakers want any documents or transcripts relating to the ban. (Federal News Radio)
  • More fallout from the collision involving the Navy’s destroyer USS John McCain. The service has fired the ship’s commanding officer Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, and executive officer Cmdr. Jessie Sanchez (no relation). The Navy said both were relieved due to loss of confidence, and that the collision was preventable. (Navy)
  • A small Army unit is ensuring military help reaches domestic disaster zones. Army North has only 350 permanent billets. But it works through Northern Command and the Joint Staff to secure troops when called for by FEMA or a state governor. Its commander, Brig. Gen. John Hasham, said Army North now has soldiers working from hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico to the Umpqua region of Oregon, where they’re fighting fires. Hasham said Army North has planners in each of FEMA’s 10 regions.
  • A search commission has been set up by the Veterans Affairs Department to find candidates for its undersecretary for benefits position. The position does require Senate confirmation. The candidate should have experience managing programs of a similar size and scope to the Veterans Benefits Administration. (Department of Veterans Affairs)