Trump taps health care investigator for new VA accountability position

To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe on PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

  • The president nominated Tamara Bonzanto to be Veterans Affairs’ new assistant secretary for the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. Bonzanto is a healthcare investigator for the House Veterans Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. If confirmed, she’ll lead a new office created under the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. She’s also a registered nurse and a Navy veteran. Bonzanto would fill a new position if she’s confirmed. (White House)
  • Whistleblowers at the Veterans Affairs Department are 10 times more likely than their colleagues to get a disciplinary action within a year of making a disclosure. The Government Accountability Office said it’s not necessarily an indication of whistleblower retaliation, but whistleblowers appear to be leaving VA more often than non-whistleblowers. GAO said about 9 percent of the VA workforce leave within a given year. But 66 percent of VA whistleblowers are gone within the next year. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new health IT expert is coming to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS is putting out the help wanted sign for a chief health informatics officer. CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the new position last week. The CHIO will be charged with driving health IT and data sharing to enhance healthcare delivery, improve health outcomes, drive down costs and empower patients. The expert will help CMS work with stakeholders, including federal and industry partners. The CHIO also will help CMS achieve its goal of ensuring patients have access to their electronic health data through interoperable technology systems. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
  • Secretary Ryan Zinke says he’s ready for the Interior Department to take on new duties. Under his reorganization plan, President Trump proposed moving functions over from the Commerce Department and the Army. The Administration of the National Marine Fisheries Service, now at Commerce, would merge with Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. Interior would also take over some functions of the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works division. Environmental cleanup programs now at Interior would move to the EPA. (Department of the Interior)
  • Despite a 3.2 percent reduction in the Freedom of Information Act request backlog last year, some agencies still saw an uptick. The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy found that half of the agencies with the largest FOIA volume saw an increase in their backlog in fiscal 2017. Agencies received an unprecedented 800,000 FOIA requests last year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) urges the Office of Special Counsel to consider another possible violation of the Hatch Act. The senator claimed the communications director for first lady Melania Trump violated the law by retweeting a photo of one of President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies from her official White House Twitter account. The OSC has ruled that several Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act, like White Communications Director Dan Scavino and Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. (Sen. Tom Carper)
  • A former background investigator pleads guilty to lying about investigating backgrounds. The Justice Department said Rose Gross was a contractor working for the National Background Investigation Bureau, but lied about conducting interviews while reviewing job applicants for positions which require clearances. She faces up to 5 years in prison. (Department of Justice)
  • The Navy is pressing toward its latest deadline to migrate its computers to Windows 10. And this time the deadline is being enforced. Navy IT leaders told the fleet that any PCs that aren’t upgraded to Windows 10 by July 31 will be quarantined from the network, leaving users unable to log in. However, officials said they’ve made major progress in the years-long upgrade effort. As of this month, 96 percent of the Navy’s unclassified network had been migrated. But upgrades on its secret network were only 80 percent finished. The Navy has already missed multiple deadlines for the upgrade. Officials said progress has been slowed by bandwidth constraints and a major backlog at the Navy’s IT helpdesk. (Navy)
  • The Homeland Security Department aims to better understand the answer to a simple question about cyber threat intelligence: What does it mean? To reach that conclusion, DHS will launch a new national risk management initiative. Chris Krebs, undersecretary of the National Programs and Protections directorate, said this effort will bring together the Departments of Energy, Treasury and others with a unique understanding of the technical aspects of their sector’s cyber challenges.