The military services have been directed to include funding for the Joint Information Environment in their 2015 budgets, according to a Pentagon official.
Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teri Takai said she is working with DoD acquisition officials to figure out how JIE funding should be characterized in the services’ budgets, and how to manage JIE implementation plans and ensure future programs align with JIE engineering specifications, the American Forces Press Service reported earlier this month.
DoD would not provide more details on the budget guidance issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “The direction by the Secretary of Defense was given in the department’s formal guidance, which remains classified,” DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said in a statement.
JIE is a massive restructuring of DoD information technology, which will include consolidating and standardizing disparate networks and systems and providing more enterprise IT services. Read more here.
The Defense Department is rolling out training for end users and systems administrators on how to operate its new mobile-device management software.
Enterprise mobile security firm PaRaBaL is designing, building and delivering the training for all of DoD, said CEO Peter Coddington. “On this contract, our task is to make sure that all the DISA or DoD employees that will use the solution are fully versed and trained,” he said.
The small-business firm is a subcontractor to Bethesda, Md., technology company DMI, which was awarded a potential $16 million, three-year contract in June for mobile application store services and an MDM solution to centrally manage DoD smartphones and tablet computers.
Coddington couldn’t say how many users have been or will be trained other than noting, “we are well along in the process.” A performance work statement on fbo.gov, said the MDM software will be designed to support at least 162,500 devices, with the potential of 262,500 mobile devices by the end of the contract.
For DoD components that use DISA’s mobile services, users will learn how to activate the management solution on their devices and how to safely operate devices according to security guidelines, said Coddington, who declined to provide further details on the contract. Systems administrators will learn how to use the MDM solution.
The four-year-old company is also working with one of the military services to test software code used for developing mobile apps.
The linguistic origins of the word “golf” are lost to time. But for 21st century feds, the game often just means trouble.
The latest evidence: Stephen Calvery, head of the Defense Force Protection Agency, gets an unfavorable write-up by the Defense Department’s inspector general for giving employees administrative leave to participate in the agency’s 2009 and 2010 golf tournaments.
Under the rules, such leave is allowable only if it benefits the agency’s mission, furthers a particular DoD function or has “a government-wide recognized and sanctioned purpose,” according to a redacted copy of the report posted today on the IG’s website.
“DoD regulations do not list a golf tournament as a common situation in which agencies generally grant excused absence,” the report says.
Calvery responded that the tournament was one of several team-building “esprit de corps” initiatives he had launched at the agency, which was created after 9/11 to protect the Pentagon and its workforce.
In his further defense, Calvery noted that only four employees received administrative leave to attend the 2009 tournament. After checking with lawyers, however, he required participating staff to take annual leave for the 2011 event. The IG was unmollified, citing the wrongful use of administrative leave as one of several allegations to have merit.
The IG also found that Calvery misused his position to have his office staff pick up his lunch and bring him coffee, arranged for someone (the name is blacked out, but it wasn’t a DoD employee) to use the force protection agency’s firing range and provided preferential hiring treatment to a subordinate.
Calvery still heads the agency, according to its website. What disciplinary action he faced, if any, is unclear. A DoD spokesman said today that he didn’t know and that—if the punishment was administrative in nature-could not disclose it, anyway.
But let’s take the opportunity to review a few other examples of federal employees who ran into links-related trouble, drawing on information compiled by the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight.
There was, for example, the Bureau of Land Management district manager who accepted tickets to golf tournaments from oil and gas companies. Or the Department of Homeland Security employees found to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on training at golf and tennis resorts. Or the Justice Department officials who came under fire for awarding a $500,000 grant to the World Golf Foundation.
Good morning! As many observers predicted, the government shutdown crisis has now morphed into the will-Congress-raise-the-debt-ceiling-in-time-to-avert-a-global-financial-panic crisis. Although there are some glimmers of movement, it’s less clear in what direction. If the presumption is that both stalemates will be settled together, however, that means furloughed feds will likely remain out of work through at least part of next week.
The Washington Post, for example, reports today that key congressional Republicans are showing willingness to back down from their insistence on delaying or defunding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as the price of reopening shuttered agencies.
But with the government expecting to be unable to pay all its bills as early as next Thursday, the administration is now focused on getting GOP lawmakers to take the threat seriously, according to The Hill. Some GOP lawmakers have questioned whether a debt default would really lead to a cataclysm; at a Senate Finance Committee hearing this morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew blasted those arguments as “irresponsible and reckless,” according to prepared testimony released in advance.
One option would be a short-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling in return for talks over broader changes to the tax code and federal benefit programs. That could include asking federal employees to contribute more to their retirement, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wrote in an opinion piece published in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (online a day earlier).
Another possibility (not mentioned in Ryan’s piece, but backed by both the White House and many Republicans) would be switching to the “chained consumer price index” as the inflation gauge for calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to federal pensions, veterans benefits and Social Security payments. There’s thus far no evidence that the administration is willing to put that on the table as part of a bipartisan budget deal, but just in case, federal employee organizations and other groups held a preemptive news conference yesterday to denounce the idea.
In other news, the Defense Department announced that it’s effectively outsourcing the payment of death gratuities to survivors of fallen service members to a private foundation. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was “offended, outraged and embarrassed” that the government couldn’t keep making these payments on its own. But even after passage of the Pay Our Military Act, Hagel said, “we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make these payments to the families directly.”
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to email@example.com.
Good morning! For several hundred thousand federal employees, it’s another day of unpaid time off with-once again—no end on the horizon as President Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats all remain seemingly dug into their respective positions.
There’s also no immediate sign that Congress is going to give final passage to legislation that would ensure retroactive pay for furloughed feds once the shutdown ends. After Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, signaled objections to fast-track consideration of the back-pay bill passed by the House on Saturday, the House GOP leadership tried again yesterday, linking a separate back-pay measure to legislation that would create a bipartisan “working group” to examine spending and debt issues.
That idea immediately drew comparisons to the congressional ”supercommittee,” whose failure to clinch a long-term deficit reduction agreement two years ago triggered the budget sequester that took effect in March. Although the two-bill package quickly passed the Republican-run House yesterday, there’s next to no chance that the Democratic-controlled Senate will take it up, particularly after the Obama administration issued a veto threat.
In other news, some CIA employees are going to back to work today, according to the announcement by the agency’s director, John Brennan. Last week, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, made waves by telling a congressional committee that some 70 percent of the intelligence community workforce was furloughed. Some of those employees have since gone back to work as part of the Defense Department recall announced Saturday. Unlike the DoD folks, who are covered by the Pay Our Military Act, the CIA staffers won’t be paid until after the shutdown ends, Brennan’s announcement indicates.
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The big news today is what’s not happening—i.e., there is no indication of any deal in sight to reopen the government this week. In addition, a bill to ensure back pay to hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees appears to be hitting a Senate slowdown. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., raced through the Republican-run House on a 407-0 vote Saturday; supporters had hoped for a similar glide through the Democratic controlled-Senate.
But on Monday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called it “premature” to move ahead with the back pay bill while Democrats were refusing to take up other House-passed measures to selectively restore funding to high-profile agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Park Service, according to an article published on Roll Call’s website.
Rather than pushing the bill quickly through the Senate, Cornyn suggested that the legislation go through the “normal legislative process,” which would mean opening it up to amendments. As the Senate Minority Whip, Cornyn is number two in the Senate GOP’s pecking order, so his position presumably carries some weight.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not respond to an email asking whether Reid planned to bring the back pay bill up before the full Senate this week. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined comment this morning.
In other news, some 7,000 Veterans Affairs Department employees join the ranks of the furloughed today.
Overall, VA–the second largest government agency–has fared much better than most; of some 332,000 total employees, fewer than 15,000 are subject to furloughs, according to its shutdown contingency plan. Many of the 7,000 sent home today work in regional offices that will now be closed. Something else to keep an eye on is the possibility that–should the shutdown continue into the second half of October–VA benefit checks could be delayed, including payments for disability compensation and GI Bill living stipends, according to the department.
Anything we’re missing in regard to major developments or agency responses to the shutdown? Send us a note at email@example.com
Good morning! Today we launch a new–and presumably temporary–feature on FedLine: A regular (as events warrant) rundown of all the noteworthy shutdown-related news that we can find.
Given what happened over the weekend, we’re playing catch-up today. As always, would appreciate your help in keeping federal employees informed on what’s happening across government. You can email tips at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to offer suggestions on how to make this feature useful. We’ll start by calling it “Shutdown Watch,” but are definitely open to something more original.
So, we start Day 7 of the partial shutdown with what is probably old news to most readers, but for the record, there were two major developments Saturday. That morning, the House of Representatives voted 407-0 to ensure furloughed feds get back pay once the partial shutdown ends. The bill is now with the Senate, which could vote to send it to President Obama early this week.
Then, that afternoon, the Defense Department, citing newly granted authority under the Pay Our Military Act, announced that it is recalling most of the approximately 350,000 civilian employees who had been furloughed without pay. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, here’s the official memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with the transcript of a call that DoD Comptroller Robert Hale held with reporters that provides a lot of useful detail. At least some civilian employees who work for the Coast Guard (a part of the Department of Homeland Security that’s nonetheless considered part of the armed forces) could also be going back to work.
On the heels of that step, United Technologies Corp. announced the cancellation of plans to furlough almost 2,000 aerospace workers. The reason, according to the Connecticut-based contractor: DoD is recalling Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors needed to oversee the manufacturing process. But Lockheed Martin is sending home some 2,400 workers (although that’s fewer than the 3,000 initially forecast), and BAE Systems has “excused from work” about 1,000 employees with the company’s intelligence and security division.
In other news, the Federal Aviation Administration is asking creditors to extend “flexibility” to some 45,000 FAA employees who may not be collecting paychecks for a while. And we couldn’t let the occasion pass without posting this much-circulated coded plea from some National Weather Service forecasters in Alaska. As your mother probably told you, it never hurts to use humor to make a point.
Some good news could be coming in the next day or two for a lot of furloughed Defense Department civilian employees.
Under the “Pay our Military Act “signed by President Obama this week, DoD not only gains the authority to pay uniformed military on time, but to do the same for civilian employees whom Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel determines are “providing support” to those troops.
And the word is that the Pentagon also plans to use that new authority aggressively to return a significant number of civilians to work. Exactly how many is unclear, but FedLine feels comfortable saying that it will be 100,000 or more. That would make a big dent in the ranks of the approximately 400,000 who are now furloughed because of the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday. For the record, though, we haven’t gotten any official confirmation from the Pentagon or Capitol Hill. “We are hopeful the department will make a determination as soon as this weekend, but we don’t know for sure,” Senate Armed Services Committee spokeswoman Kathleen Long said via email.
But on Thursday night, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are “doing everything we can” to put idled civilian workers back to work, noting that they had already been furloughed for six days this summer because of the sequester.
“This is no way to treat patriots,” Carter said to loud applause at the Partnership for Public Service’s banquet honoring this year’s Service to America award winners.
Access into the Washington Navy Yard’s Building 197, where a shooting rampage in Washington left at least a dozen people dead Monday, includes a security clearance check and vetting by contract-hired “visitor control technicians,” contract records show.
Authorities have identified Aaron Alexis, 34, a Navy veteran, as the dead gunman. While it’s unclear how Alexis got into the building Monday morning, the Associated Press reported that he may have used someone’s identification.
In April, the Navy hired Kansas-based contractor Transtecs Corp. for “visitor control office support services” at the Washington Navy Yard, according to the government’s online procurement database.
While there’s no indication that Transtecs’ work has come under question in the shooting, contract records related to the company’s hiring do shed light on the sort of vetting the Navy requires to get into Building 197, which houses the Navy’s Sea Systems Command.
A 30-page task order on the company’s website says Transtecs provides the labor to support the ID badging system and associated equipment at the building.
A person who answered the phone for Transtecs Monday said the company declined to comment.
Entry into the building includes a check of the Joint Personnel Adjudication System to verify an individual’s clearance level prior to authorizing access, the task order shows.
“The contractor shall utilize the government furnished Picture Perfect Access Control System to issue visitor badges and code Control Access Card (CAC) badges permitting entry,” the task order also states.
“The contractor shall code all CAC’s and visitor badges after the vetting process is completed authorizing access into specific or all NAVSEA buildings, as appropriate.”
The company’s website lists multiple federal agencies as clients, including the Navy, Air Force, Army and Defense Logistics Agency.
The Merit Systems Protection Board is making headway in containing an unprecedented surge in appeals fueled by Defense Department employee furloughs.
As of yesterday, the board had docketed almost 16,600 appeals, or about half the total. It now expects to have most of the remainder done soon after Labor Day and then begin the adjudication process for the DoD cases, according to the latest update posted on its home page.
Challenges of sequester-related furloughs–most of them from Defense Department workers–have swollen the MSPB’s workload to roughly five times its normal level. Consider some numbers provided today by Board Clerk William Spencer. The total number of furlough appeals (docketed and undocketed) stood at 32,368. Appeals of all other kinds: 5,346.
No doubt to the relief of the tiny MSPB’s 200-strong workforce, the surge is showing signs of ebbing. While he didn’t have exact figures, Spencer said that the influx of new appeals has dropped since the beginning of last week.
In its online update, the board apologized for any inconvenience to appellants, but added that it would be inefficient to start adjudicating appeals “only to discover that furlough appeals raising similar arguments, filed by similarly situated employees, remain to be docketed.” Going forward, the MSPB “hopes to consolidate and adjudicate as many similar claims as possible, and this cannot be done until the docketing process is near completion.”