Anti-fraud measures at IRS seem to be working

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  • New anti-fraud measures at the IRS have made an impact according to the Government Accountability Office. In 2017, Congress moved up the deadline for employers to submit W-2s and had IRS hold refunds for people claiming certain tax credits until February 15, helping it verify about half of the recipients making the claims. The federal watchdog said IRS could have detected even more fraudulent payments if it held the refunds until the end of February. (Government Accountability Office)
  • President Donald Trump in his first State of the Union address said the Veterans Affairs Department Accountability Act has been effective. Trump signed the VA Accountability Act into law in June. Since then, the White House said VA has removed almost 1,500 employees. Trump also called on Congress to expand the law to all agencies and end the Defense sequester. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission will continue its crusade against fraudulent crypto-currencies. The agency received a federal court order to stop a retail initial coin offering regulators say is rife with false claims. Founders of AriseBank claimed they would offer customers FDIC insured deposits made up of 700 online currencies, and even a crypto credit card. SEC officials cited the founders’ criminal backgrounds in seeking an asset freeze and receivership for the bank. The probe came from the SEC’s Fort Worth, Texas office. (Securities and Exchange Commission)
  • Despite ending its Integrated Health Information Systems in 2015, the Coast Guard will still pay its contractors $5 million next month. That’s on top of the more than $60 million its spent on the defunct program. GAO recommended the Coast Guard to find a new EHR system. (Federal News Radio)
  • Ed Wilson was named the new deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy. Wilson is a retired two-star Air Force general. He previously served as the deputy principal cyber adviser to the defense secretary. Wilson will work on cyber issues, especially the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command to a full combatant command. (Department of Defense)
  • The Pentagon said it made a mistake when it ordered an inspector general to withhold key details about the state of affairs in Afghanistan. In its latest quarterly report on Tuesday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction complained that DoD officials had directed SIGAR not to report key details about which areas of the country were effectively controlled by the government compared to those under Taliban influence, information the office had included in its public reports for the past two years. Just hours later, DoD reversed course, and blamed “human error” for the data restriction. It also released some of the information on its own, indicating 44 percent of the country is controlled by insurgent forces. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration have agreed to collaborate and coordinate oversight efforts more often. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb signed a memorandum of understanding committing to work together implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. Among the areas the two agencies will work together on are implementing produce safety measures and biotechnology efforts. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
  • The Homeland Security Department is redesigning the Trusted Internet Connection program. TIC 3.0 would split the TIC reference architecture from the capabilities document, so DHS could make incremental changes to either without having to go through a longer policy-making process. DHS hopes the new TIC will give agencies more flexibility to use the capabilities they need to respond and lower certain levels of risk. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal buyers need to be smarter about the technology they buy, so DHS is trying to help. A new supply chain risk management program will aim to make federal buyers, contractors and other business owners more informed about the information technology products and services they purchase. The Homeland Security Department established a Cyber Supply Chain Risk Management Initiative last year to provide timely and actionable information about supply chain risks and mitigation. DHS told the House Small Business Committee members that it plans to identify and mitigate supply chain threats and vulnerabilities this year to federal high value assets. In 2019, DHS said the supply chain program Initiative will expand in scope to conduct due diligence on proposed contractors and subcontractors for individual acquisitions, provide public-private stakeholders unclassified supply chain risk information, and establish trusted supplier and product lists. (House Small Business Committee)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) wants to know exactly how many DHS employees met or exceeded their annual pay premium caps last year. The Federal Emergency Management Administration paid at least $1 million in unauthorized overtime to at least 500 of its employees as of last December. Other DHS employees have also exceeded their premium pay caps. Gowdy said he’s concerned about why the department didn’t bring up the issue to the committee. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The National Treasury Employees Union has asked for new, higher spending caps. NTEU wrote to Democratic congressional leaders encouraging them to stand with federal employees again and reject proposals to weaken federal pay and benefits to offset spending increases. The current continuing resolution will expire on Feb. 8. Congress has yet to reach an agreement on the Budget Control Act caps. (National Treasury Employees Union)