DHS considering punishments for contractors still using Kaspersky Lab products

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  • The Homeland Security Department wants to punish agencies for not following a specific part of a recent binding operational directive. The good news is every agency has removed Kaspersky Lab products from its systems and networks. Now Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.) wants DHS to make sure the company’s products are not at risk from third-party vendors working with the government. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that the agency is assessing federal supply chains to identify where the Kaspersky products still exist today. She said DHS is working across the government to figure out possible consequences for not following the directive. (Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security)
  • New veterans community care legislation is one step closer to reality. The House Veterans Affairs Committee passed the MISSION Act with a 20 to 2 vote. The bill would consolidate all seven community care programs into one. The legislation would place the VA health care program as discretionary funding, instead of mandatory funding. It would also extend VA’s current caregiver program benefits to veterans of all eras. The bill also sets up a new process for reviewing VA assets and facilities. The MISSION Act has support from Senate VA committee leadership, the White House and 38 veterans service organizations. The goal is to pass the bill by Memorial Day. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House Veterans Affairs Committee also passed 15 other veterans bills out of committee. One bill authorizes VA research of medical cannabis use for veterans with PTSD and chronic pain. Another bill would set a structured oversight process for Congress throughout VA’s electronic health record modernization process. It requires VA to give lawmakers regular updates and all documents related to the agency’s eventual contract with Cerner Corporation. (Federal News Radio)
  • A Justice Department official who pushed for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was a no-show at a hearing about the issue. John Gore, acting deputy assistant attorney general of DoJ’s Civil Rights Division, was slated to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) threatened to subpoena Gore if he misses another one. ProPublica recently reported that Gore had asked the Census Bureau about adding the citizenship question. (Federal News Radio)
  • On May 21, the Air Force is executing a one day operational safety review. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein wants all of the service’s wings to identify issues that may cause the future mishap. The review was brought on by a series of aviation incidents, including a WC-130 Hercules crash on May 2. (Air Force)
  • For the second year in a row, the Defense Department wants to let officers opt out of promotion boards. A legislative proposal from the Pentagon for the 2019 defense authorization bill would let the service secretaries give officers waivers to go spend time on education or other experiences, and defer their promotion review. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers has a new plan to fix promotion delays for members of the National Guard. The legislation, introduced Wednesday, addresses the long waits Guard officers endure between the time their units promote them to a new rank and when their pay actually reflects those promotions. According to the National Guard Association of the United States, the average waiting time for the Pentagon to process those promotions is 245 days. Among other changes, the legislation would give guardsmen back pay, dating back to when their states first promoted them.
  • The number of federal employees retiring ticked up in April, but the backlog of claims fell by almost 1,000. The Office of Personnel Management said about 8,400 employees filed retirement claims last month. Meanwhile, the number of retirees waiting for their claims to be processed dropped to about 17,500 from more than 18,700. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • Twenty-seven finalists were named for the 2018 Service to America Medals. The Partnership for Public Service is honoring the finalists and their accomplishments during Public Service Recognition Week. Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon said he wants to focus on celebrating these stories and other accomplishments from federal employees. The Partnership for Public Service will announce the winners at a ceremony in October. (Federal News Radio)
  • A former contractor at the Military Sealift Command was sentenced to  7 years in prison for his role in a 15-year bribery and fraud scheme, from which authorities said he acquired almost $3 million. The Justice Department says Scott Miserendino used his position to benefit a telecommunications company contracted with MSC, for which the owner then paid him bribes. (Department of Justice)
  • The Justice Department indicted a former CIA case officer for selling national defense information to Chinese intelligence officers. DOJ said Jerry Chun Shing Lee of Hong Kong worked with the CIA until 2007. Three years later, he was approached by the Chinese officials who offered to pay him for information. Classified materials were later found among his possessions when searched by the FBI during trip’s Lee took to visit family in the U.S. (Department of Justice)