Veterans Affairs publishes how many opioids it’s prescribing online

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  • The Veterans Affairs said it was reducing  the use of opioid medicines, and published data to prove it. VAsposted online the rates of opioid prescriptions for each of its medical centers. Charts show changes in prescription rates over five years through 2017. Nearly all facilities have reduced their rates, although the data doesn’t show the absolute numbers of patients receiving opioids. The transparency step is part of VA’s Opioid Safety initiative to cut long-term use of the addictive drugs. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The cyber defense arm of U.S. Cyber Command said it would reach phase one of an order aimed at shoring up vulnerabilities across the Defense Department this spring. Operation Gladiator Shield, marked a major milestone for the Joint Force Headquarters-Defense Department Information Networks, which will reach full operational capability by the end of January. DoD created the organization in January 2015 to take over operations and defensive work from U.S. Cyber Command. (Federal News Radio)
  • U.S. Cyber Command is reshuffling its organizational hierarchy. The command is adding a second deputy commander position to be filled by Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville. Cyber Command became a full combatant command last year. CYBERCOM Commander Michael Rogers is poised to step down from the position in the spring.
  • The Pentagon’s inspector general substantiated a contractor employee’s claim of whistleblower reprisal. In a heavily redacted report the office issued on Thursday, the IG said it believed the contractor improperly retaliated against an employee who had complained about sexual and racist comments in her workplace at DoD’s Office of Economic Adjustment. The contractor, Leidos, denied any wrongdoing, saying she was a subcontractor. But the investigation concluded the firm had significant control over her job, and that she was denied work on a follow-on contract because of her complaints. The IG said DoD should consider “appropriate action” against Leidos, and that it should order the firm to award her back pay and other compensatory damages. (Department of Defense Office of Inspector General)
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is joining the Senate Armed Services Committee. Scott will join fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the committee. Scott said he wants to focus on military readiness and military construction. Scott was elected to the Senate in 2012 and was reelected in 2016.
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants more transparency from agencies when it comes to developing regulations. The chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee introduced the Guidance Out Of Darkness Act. It would require agencies to post regulatory guidance documents online. These documents are not typically made public, but Johnson wanted citizens to have input on the implementation of regulations. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a bill to limit the amount of time Veterans Affairs employees could spend on official time. The bill is a companion to the Veterans Employees and Taxpayer Protection Act introduced in the House last year. The bill would ban union work on the clock for employees in health care positions, or ones who make more than $100,000 a year. It would also require VA to submit annual reports on official time use to Congress. (Sen. Ted Cruz)
  • A new tool to help chief information officers overcome an ever-growing mound of technical debt. To repair or replace legacy technology is a question many agency chief information officers are asking themselves. A new tool can help CIOs make that decision. The Consortium for IT Quality releases a new approach for measuring technical debt. OMB estimated in 2016 that agencies would need to address more than $ 7 billion of old hardware and software over the next five years. CIS-Q said the standards help estimate the cost to fix a broad set of known problems in software code to help them meet their IT modernization goals. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employment lawyers are wringing their hands over the fate of the Merit Systems Protection Board. It hasn’t had a quorum since Jan. 8 of last year. Mark Robbins, the lone member and chairman, has voted on about 750 petitions for review. But they’re still in limbo, until the president appoints and the Senate confirms another member. Robbins’ own term expires in March. He could serve in holdover capacity for another year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is clarifying how agencies can use the Competitive Service Act, to share resumes and qualified candidates with other agencies. The act, passed last year, lets agencies do so to help agencies find and hire qualified talent more quickly. OPM said it lets agencies choose from a pool of top rated and available candidates. (Chief Human Capital Officers Council)