House Dems slam EPA’s Pruitt for allegedly delaying FOIA requests

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  • Democrats in the House continued their attack on Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt. This time the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), requested documents relating to reports Pruitt sought to delay the release of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents. In a letter to Pruitt, Cummings claimed the agency has focused on answering Obama-era FOIA requests before answering new ones under the Trump administration. Cummings cited a report by the Project on Government Oversight that found the EPA answered less than 17 percent of its FOIA requests last year. (Dems-HORC)
  • A Federal government advisory group on science says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has hindered the growth of commercial drones.  The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine asked the FAA not to regulate drones the same way it handles airlines. Congress requested the science group study the FAA last year. Among its findings, the science panel said the FAA has taken “overly conservative risk assessments” on unmanned drones. The FAA countered saying its top priority is safety.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate has already begun debate on its version of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill was just released to lawmakers a week ago and the White House said it hasn’t had time to study the document. Considering that the NDAA is one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation Congress takes up each year, the White House typically weighs in with a detailed list of its concerns before each chamber votes. But in a statement Monday night, the Trump administration said it wasn’t able to present its views on the $708 billion authorization bill because of the short timeframe. The Senate Armed Services Committee drafted and voted on its version of the bill entirely behind closed doors late last month, but the text wasn’t released to the public until last week.  (White House)
  • The Air Force said it has expanded paid parental leave from ten days to 21 days. The announcement followed Navy’s lead in offering the upgrade in January. The new policy allows women who give birth 42 days of leave, it allows primary caregivers 42 days of leave and secondary caregivers 21 days of leave. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened the possibility for 12 week maternity leave with his Force of the Future initiative and the services quickly followed in that direction. Increased parental leave was part of the 2017 defense authorization bill. (Federal News Radio)
  •  The Air Force has announced Major General Robert Skinner’s new assignment. Skinner has been nominated to lead the 24th Air Force, based in San Antonio.  It’s home to the Air Force cyber component. Skinner currently serves as the deputy of Air Force Space Command.  He will replace Major General Christopher Weggeman, who is moving on to become the special assistant to the commander of Air Combat Command. (C4ISRNet)
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he wants to attract more recent college graduates to public service. Cardin has offered new legislation to set up a National Public Service Education Grant for college graduates who commit at least three years to a job in public service. The grant would provide most of the funds for a recipients tuition. Cardin’s bill would also start a debt forgiveness program for public service employees based on tenure in the service. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federally funded study has found a link between barbershops and health among a population at high risk for hypertension. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, tested whether pharmacist-led programs in barbershops could significantly lower high blood pressure in black men in the United States. It turned out that, when the guidance was coupled with medication, a blood pressure level of less than 130/80 was achieved among 64 percent of men who participated in the study’s program, versus 12 percent of those who didn’t. The conclusion, such programs can help many older black men who tend to avoid seeing a doctor better manage their health.  (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said agencies must develop and maintain a Data Quality Plan as part of their efforts to implement the DATA Act. A new memo from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney laid out requirements that will attempt to reduce the burden and add more flexibility for agencies. The data quality plan must address incremental risks as required under OMB Circular A-123. Agencies should address known risks around the reporting of procurement data. They also should identify and eliminate redundant processes that do not address those risks. OMB encouraged agencies to take a maturity model approach with an emphasis on integrating internal control activities with the agency’s Enterprise Risk Management processes. (White House)