Adm. Zukunft: Coast Guard finally where it needs to be budget-wise

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  • Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft said his service is now punching at the middleweight class, which is exactly where it needs to be. Speaking at this year’s Sea Air Space Exposition, Zukunft said after spending 2017 with low budgets, the only place for the Coast Guard to go was up. The 2018 budget and the 2019 request fund items like a new icebreaker, something the Coast Guard said its in dire need of.
  • Federal employees in six new parts of the U.S. may have access to special locality pay rates next year. The Federal Salary Council recommended Corpus Christi, Texas, and Omaha, Neb. as two new locality pay areas. It said it wants to push the new areas with Burlington, Vt., San Antonio, Texas, Birmingham, Ala. and Virginia Beach, Va. together through one rulemaking process. These four areas already got approval for locality pay, but the regulatory process stalled. (Federal News Radio)
  • New leadership on the Federal Salary Council wants to go in a new direction. Council Chair Ron Sanders wants the group to take on a more active role in talks about federal pay and compensation. The council voted to begin reviewing the methodology it uses to inform the locality pay program. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said private sector employees are paid nearly 32 percent more than feds. The Congressional Budget Office disagreed in recent years, saying that federal employees are actually compensated 17 percent more than private sector workers. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) has increased his oversight of federal management issues. He took over as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The subcommittee includes overseeing the budgets of OMB, OPM, GSA and others. Lankford is also the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • A new White House executive order is aimed to reform how agencies administer public assistance programs. The EO outlines what the White House has called nine principles of economic mobility. They’re to guide agencies’ approaches to food stamps, children’s health insurance programs and Medicaid. The order directed agencies to add or more strongly enforce work requirements for able-bodied adults. The order is focused on consolidating duplicate programs, boosting state-federal information sharing and finding private sector solutions to poverty. (White House)
  • Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) took a closer look at FEMA’s contracts for emergency tarps during last year’s hurricane season. A new report showed FEMA awarded $73 million in contracts to two businesses with no relevant past performance. McCaskill claimed though FEMA cancelled them, the agency didn’t take appropriate steps determine whether the contractors could carry out the job. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • President Trump’s nominee to be the next VA secretary may get a promotion even if, the Senate doesn’t confirm him to lead Veterans Affairs. The president has formally nominated Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to the rank of two-star admiral. It would mean a difference in about a million dollars in future retirement income, but Senate officials told the Washington Post they’re unlikely to approve both his military promotion and his VA nomination. (Department of Defense)
  • The admiral who led the Navy’s investigation into last year’s deadly ship collisions also received a promotion to command all U.S. forces in the Pacific. Adm. Phil Davidson, currently the commander of the Navy’s Fleet Forces command, was nominated Tuesday as the head of U.S. Pacific Command. His report found that the high operational tempo directed by PACOM was among the factors that led to the accidents that killed 17 sailors last year. Pending Senate confirmation, he would replace Adm. Harry Harris. Meanwhile, the Pentagon also announced that Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, will be the next commander of U.S. Northern Command. (Department of Defense)
  • U.S. Transportation Command leader General Darren McDew told Congress the United States needs a national cybersecurity standard to set a low watermark for cyber defense. He said there is a divide between cybersecurity standards of the private realm and government, and that it’s potentially harming troop movements.
  • The Homeland Security Department kicked off its sixth cyber storm exercise this week. DHS brought together over a thousand federal, state, local and private sector partners to work together to solve and respond to simulated cyber threats. The exercise this year is focused on transportation and infrastructure industries. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Intelligence Community moves into phase 2 of its transformation. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence created teams from across the intelligence community to take on six broad initiatives. The working groups will develop strategies by the end of July to address common challenges all 17 members of the IC face. The working groups will focus on augmenting intelligence using machines, improving recruitment and retention of the workforce, cybersecurity, acquisition reform, creating modern approaches to data management and infrastructure, and improving the partnerships with the private sector.