OMB: Taxpayers still gain more than they pay from federal regulations

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  • The benefits of federal regulations outweigh the costs by several hundred billions of dollars according to the Office of Management and Budget. A new draft report to Congress showed between 2006 and 2016, federal actions benefited the public between $287 billion and $911 billion, while costing between $78 billion and $115 billion. OMB is seeking comments on the draft report and how to make this analysis more accurate and valuable to the public. (White House)
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said the agency will start using a new set of bidding and contractual documents to simplify the lease procurement process. It hopes the new approach will encourage competition and more innovation. The president’s 2019 budget request also included more real property flexibilities for VA. The budget lets VA sell off underused or vacant property, and keep the profits instead of returning them back the General Services Administration. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • A Pentagon audit found the military has vastly improved its sharing of health records with VA, but still has a long way to go. The IG report came three years after DoD implemented an electronic system that was supposed to make all of its departing service members’ treatment records instantly available to VA. Auditors found 33 percent of the Navy’s records took at least 90 days to make their way into the system. In the case of the Army, 14 percent took at least that long. The IG said the findings are concerning, since they might delay VA’s decisions about medical and health benefits for new veterans. (Department of Defense)
  • The Interior Department Office of Inspector Generals found evidence that a former senior employee sought preferential treatment for business partners and relatives. The IG said the employee steered grant money to two American Indian tribes he had a previous business relationship with, and also tried to get a department job for a relative. The employee left Interior after the IG began its investigation. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • Some National Guard officers are waiting more than six months for the Pentagon to recognize their promotions. The delay is causing back pay issues and frustrating some Guardsmen. The National Guard Association of the United States said the delays could cause retention issues for the Guard if they are not rectified. (Federal News Radio)
  • Raj Shah, the leader of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental stepped down from his position last week. Navy Captain Sean Heritage will hold the position until a permanent replacement is found. Shah led DIUx for almost two years in which he convinced Silicon Valley businesses to do work with the Defense Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • The new Patent and Trademark Office director was sworn in and is getting down to business. Andrei Iancu was sworn in at the Madison Building Atrium by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Iancu has predicted that through patent examiners’ hands, they will pass the cure for cancer, create compounds to alleviate thirst and hunger and machines that transport humans to other planets. Before his appointment, Iancu was a prominent intellectual property lawyer. He’s also a former Hughes Aircraft engineer. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • Wait and processing times are up at the Thrift Savings Plan’s call centers. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said a six-month IT modernization project at the call centers forced the agency to compromise customer service for security. More than 120,000 participants waited five minutes or longer for a rep in January, far from the agency’s goal of picking up 90 percent of participant calls within 20 seconds. The TSP agency said call volumes are already higher at the end of December through mid-March. (Federal News Radio)
  • The board also received the lowest possible score on its most recent Federal Information Security Modernization Act, or FISMA report. Auditor Williams Adley said the agency’s IT systems are still mostly “ad-hoc” and driven by controls. FRTIB also has inappropriate oversight over its third-party contractors and inconsistent leadership within the chief technology officer position.
  • OPM’s struggle to modernize its technology systems continues.The inspector general at the Office of Personnel Management didn’t hold back its frustration with the agency’s IT modernization efforts. In the IG’s latest management report on OPM’s IT modernization initiative, auditors called the the agency’s process backwards. The IG says OPM continues to make the same mistakes that plagued its recent unsuccessful “Shell” initiative. OPM received $11 million in fiscal 2017 to improve the security of its data and systems, but the funding isn’t supported by a strategy or cost analysis. (Office of Personnel Management)