House Dems worry Secretary Ryan Zinke will thwart diverse workforce initiatives

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  • Democratic lawmakers are worried Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will thwart diversity initiatives in his department. Recent media reports said Zinke made several comments dismissing the importance of a diverse workforce. The 28 members sent a letter to Zinke urging him to rethink those statements. (Rep. Pramila Jayapal)
  • The nominee to the lead the Veterans Benefits Administration wants to focus on reducing improper payments, and fostering a culture of collaboration at the agency. Paul Lawrence led Kaiser Associates’ public sector practice, and also spent time at the IBM Center for the Business of Government. He told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the Appeals Modernization Act and new GI Bill will keep him busy as head of VBA, not thoughts about VA privatization. (Senate Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney hoped to reassure critics in Congress that the CFPB is still doing its job. He told Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, he was committed to punishing unscrupulous financial companies, while agreeing with Republicans that the watchdog agency he runs needs to be reined in and refocused. Since Mulvaney took over, the bureau has not issued an enforcement action against any financial company and has dropped cases against payday lenders. CFPB supporters in Congress are worried Mulvaney is taking a more business-friendly approach at the expense of consumers. (Federal News Radio)
  • An inspector general’s report shows the Interior Department did not document plans, cost estimate or the reasoning behind the reassignments of 35 senior executives last summer. DOI’s IG said it doesn’t know why the agency made the decision and can’t determine whether Interior followed all regulations because the agency failed to keep documents on the decision. The decision itself came from Interior’s Executive Resources Board. The IG said the board has no charter, and included only political appointees at the time of the reassignments. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Coast Guard is wondering where all its mid-career women are going. The service, which has historically high retention rates, commissioned a study as to why women serving 10 to 12 years are leaving the service. The study is set to be completed in the next year. (Federal News Radio)
  • After making dismissive comments about allegations of sexual harassment in his command, the Marine Corps has suspended Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein. Stein ran Marine and Family Programs for the service. USA Today reports he made the comments to hundreds of civilian employees and Marines at the National Museum of the Marine Corps back in April. The office Stein commands handles sexual assault prevention and response for the Marine Corps. The allegations he was referring to involved two civilian employees who said a Marine officer had made several sexual advances towards them. Stein called them fake news. (USA Today)
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, is still waiting for answers from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. He wants the agency to provide waivers for all the times Pruitt flew first class for official business. EPA missed a Feb. 20 deadline to provide those documents. The committee is also looking into reports that Pruitt received a favorable deal on a Washington, D.C., condo from the wife of an energy lobbyist. (House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee)
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is seeking to revise, modernize and improve the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. ATF released a request for information to vendors asking for innovative and cost-effective approaches to capturing and comparing ballistics images. The information network links over 175 state and local law enforcement agencies. It lets them solve crimes by comparing ballistics data within their regions or nationally in order to generate matches and link criminal investigative cases by the firearms used. Responses to the RFI are due April 17. (FedBizOpps)
  • According to the General Services Administration’s Federal Real Property Profile, the government holds more than 40,000 office spaces and over 17,000 leased facilities. Under the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act Congress passed in 2016, GSA will update the database every year. Rep.  Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, said the database should help convince agencies to consolidate offices. (Federal News Radio)