National Background Investigations Bureau to set up another surge office to help with backlog

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  • The National Background Investigations Bureau will set up a surge office at Hill Air Force Base in Utah to help deal with the backlog of pending security clearances. Eighteen members of the NBIB will travel to the Air Force base in March. A second team will come in April, and likely a third team will come in May. Hill Air Force Base says it has over 1,200 open background investigations. Setting up a surge office will help NBIB investigators cut back on travel time to conduct interviews. NBIB set up other surge offices at Air Force bases in Ohio and Texas last fall. (Hill Air Force Base)
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants agencies to consider how many people they need to accomplish tasks, and redefine their jobs for a new era of automation and artificial intelligence. Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan said OPM will issue new guidance on how agencies re-skill and “up-skill” current and new federal employees for different kinds of work. She said agencies should consider how new jobs will balance technology, with human collaboration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is facing more criticism of its post-cyber breach contracting effort. The OPM inspector general said the agency failed to fully follow acquisition regulations in awarding its second post-breach contract for identity services. Auditors said in awarding the $133 million deal to ID Experts in September 2015 OPM misfired across 15 areas. The IG said among the FAR provisions OPM failed to comply with were the acquisition plan, the market research plan, the technical evaluation plan and various other contractual documents were incomplete and/or unapproved. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • The Trump administration may have made further cuts to the Internal Revenue Service budget in its fiscal 2019 budget proposal, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asked members of the House Appropriations Committee to give it close to an extra of $400 million. The money would go toward fiscal 2018 and 2019 to implement the new tax reform law. The extra funding would also offset some of the budget cuts in areas like customer service and cybersecurity. (Federal News Radio)
  • White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act during a pair of television interviews earlier this year, according to the Office of Special Counsel. The Hatch Act forbids federal employees from expressing their views about candidates while on the job. Conway encouraged Alabama voters to support Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore over his challenger, Doug Jones. President Donald Trump did endorse Moore, but the Hatch Act doesn’t apply to the president or vice president. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Donald Trump announced his intent to appoint Andrew Maunz to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Maunz will be the vice chairman of the board if confirmed by the Senate. Maunz has been an attorney within the Social Security Administration’s Office of General Counsel since 2008. MSPB has been without a quorum for more than a year. He represented SSA in employment litigation before the MSPB, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and others. He also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney in federal court. (White House)
  • Seven U.S. senators urged Congress to give the Defense Department more budget flexibility this year. They noted DoD will only have six months to spend its 2018 funds if a defense appropriations bill is passed by the end of March. The letter is signed by both Democrats and Republicans. (Federal News Radio)
  • Oracle became the latest IT service provider to receive the Defense Department’s blessing to handle sensitive data in the cloud. The Defense Information Systems Agency said it was granted an 18-month provisional authorization for services, the company plans to operate across three of its own data centers at “impact level 5.” Except for secret-level data, that’s the top of the hierarchy for DoD’s cloud security classifications. (Defense Information Systems Agency)
  • The Air Force said it was setting up a new center to train its officers in Information Operations. The branch announced in 2016 it was creating a specialized career field for “IO,” which is the military’s term for a wide variety of activities, including electronic warfare, offensive cyber operations and military deception. The school will be located at Hurlburt Field in Florida. (Air Force)
  • Brent Park received the nod from the Senate Armed Services Committee to become the next deputy administrator of defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Agency. Park, a nuclear physicist, was formerly the director of the NNSA Remote Sensing Laboratory.
  • One veterans service organization is launching a new mental health partnership with the Veterans Affairs Department. AMVETS is starting the Healthcare Evaluation Advocacy and Legislation, or HEAL program. The organization will be sending AMVETS licensed clinicians out to communities to help veterans navigate the complicated array of VA programs. VA Secretary David Shulkin hopes to reach more veterans who aren’t within the department’s system. AMVETS will also set up a health care hotline to help veterans with their questions, and it will hold town halls across the country to hear veterans’ concerns about mental health. (AMVETS)
  • The Department Health and Human Services launched an initiative to give people more control over their health data. It’s called a blue-button tool, after the long-standing Veterans Affairs Department program that lets vetetans access their own health data. It even has a similar name. MyHealthEData, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will give the same access to regular citizens. CMS said 100 provider organizations have agreed to join in what it’s dubbing Medicare Blue Button 2.0. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)