Oops, another Hatch Act violation by a political appointee

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  • Last month it was White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. This time it was FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly. He spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference, urging the election of conservatives. The Project on Government Oversight told the Office of Special Counsel. OSC confirmed that O’Reilly did violate the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from political activity while on duty. OSC sent O’Reilly a warning letter. (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she’s worried the Veterans Affairs Department is not properly conducting background checks for its employees. The VA inspector general said 6,200 VA medical employees had no background check, with some waiting nearly 400 days for them to be launched. McCaskill wants more information on VA’s plans to manage the backlog, and whether vacancies among top positions at the department are affecting its ability to process investigations. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is improving veterans’ access to their medical records with a new online feature. The MyHealthEVet portal lets veterans view and download medical images and reports. Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said this will simplify veterans’ access to their health records, since they no longer have to travel to a VA facility to retrieve them. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • The Defense Department’s 2017 sexual assault report is out and there are some serious changes in reporting numbers. DoD said it saw a 10 percent increase in the number of reported sexual assault incidents in 2017. The study states 5,277  service members were sexually assaulted during their time in the military. The increase in reported cases came mostly from women. The Pentagon is framing the reporting increase as a win because women feel more comfortable coming forward about assault. However, anti-sexual assault groups, such as Protect our Defenders, say the study shows a concerning drop in prosecution rates for assailants. (Protect Our Defenders)
  • Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) wants an investigation to see if Social Security’s decision to close its Arlington, Virginia, field office was legal. In a letter to SSA’s acting Inspector General Gail Stallworth Stone, Beyer asked for her to review SSA’s decision to close the office after it said it was unable to find suitable space. Beyer questioned the agency’s claim. (Rep. Don Beyer)
  • An industry association asked the Appropriations Committee to step in on the Defense Department’s JEDI cloud procurement. The IT Alliance for Public Sector is applying pressure on DoD over its plans for the commercial cloud procurement known as JEDI where it hurts most —its wallet. The industry association wrote to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees asking them to apply more oversight to the cloud procurement effort. ITAPS told the lawmakers that despite assurances from Secretary James Mattis, all signs pointed to DoD going against commercial best practices and moving to a single cloud.
  • The Office of Management and Budget won’t be giving agencies a formal mandate to implement the technology business management framework by 2022. It’s looking to collect best practices from agencies who are early adopters so it can develop a unified strategy for everyone. TBM implementation is one of 14 cross-agency priority goals in the President’s Management Agenda. (Federal News Radio)
  • Modernizing the technology transfer process was also included in the agenda and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is looking to start it. NIST wants to hear from the public about its access to federally funded research. A new Request for Information asked for ways to increase the return on investment from that research. (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • The Air Force is calling on airmen, entrepreneurs and academics to submit ideas to enhance the security of fixed and mobile assets. The best ideas will be presented at the AF Works fusion experience in Las Vegas next month. The Air Force has been reaching out to smaller companies to address some of its technological challenges. (Air Force)