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4:10 am, July 23, 2014

Congressional Spotlight

Erik Wasson, Staff Writer, The Hill Newspaper

Congress may seem consumed by hot-button issues like the Veterans Affairs scandal, but it is moving forward on the nitty-gritty. The House has passed a few fiscal 2015 budget bills. It's moving forward on others. In the Senate, Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) pledges: no more government on auto-pilot. Her committee will approve spending bills too. For an update on all the appropriations, Erik Wasson, a staff writer at The Hill, spoke with Tom and Emily on the Federal Drive.

Tuesday - 06/03/2014, 06:53pm EDT
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Vacancy at patent office 'untenable,' senator says

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the Finance Committee, is calling on President Barack Obama to nominate a permanent director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The top spot at the patent agency has remained vacant since former director David Kappos departed the agency in February 2013. In a letter to President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Hatch said the vacancy "hampers the agency's ability to influence policy and make long-term plans."

Tuesday - 06/03/2014, 01:44pm EDT

Congress joins the fray as protests mount over strategic sourcing

Reps. Grace Meng and Tim Walberg introduce a provision in the Defense authorization bill to require GAO to study the impact of strategic sourcing on small businesses. GSA also is facing more than two dozen protests over its current and future office supplies contracts and now OASIS.

Tuesday - 06/03/2014, 01:29pm EDT

Senate to take up new VA bill after scandal

Vermont lawmaker to introduce remade bill to address troubled veterans' health system

Monday - 06/02/2014, 04:06pm EDT

Despite Obama directive, agencies maintain ad-hoc approach to unclassified information

Congressional report points to misuse of TSA's "sensitive security information" designation for unclassified agency data.

Friday - 05/30/2014, 12:00pm EDT
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IG concludes VA's systems, data remain at risk

The 2013 FISMA report to Congress shows the Veterans Affairs Department continues to struggle with cybersecurity and has more than 6,000 items on its plans of actions and milestones and continued weaknesses in access and configuration management controls. VA CIO Stephen Warren details several initiatives to address many of the 35 recommendations.

Friday - 05/30/2014, 04:11am EDT

With budget deadline still months away, should agencies start prepping for CR?

The Sept. 30 deadline for Congress to deliver a complete fiscal 2015 budget plan is still about four months away. But with a lengthy summer recess spanning nearly the entire month of August, that leaves fewer than 40 working days for the appropriation committees on Capitol Hill to finalize agency spending levels. That has some budget watchers already raising the possibility of a stopgap continuing resolution to fund government operations.

Thursday - 05/29/2014, 05:09pm EDT
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Tracking the 2015 budget

Congress has until Sept. 30 to deliver a complete fiscal 2015 budget plan setting agency funding levels. Track the progress of your agency's 2013 appropriations bill.

Thursday - 05/29/2014, 04:44pm EDT

Dave Wennergren, Professional Services Council

The Professional Services Council has launched a new initiative to focus on technology policy. It's picked a defense insider to lead it. Dave Wennergren served in the Defense Department until 2013 when he joined the contractor CACI. He joined Tom Temin and Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive to discuss the latest chapter in his career.

Wednesday - 05/28/2014, 06:31am EDT
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VA hacks away at claims backlog, increases accuracy

Allison Hickey, VA's undersecretary for benefits, said VBMS has transformed the agency from a paper system to one that mostly relies on electronic data. Some lawmakers express concern about the way the agency is measuring how it reduces the number of veterans waiting for benefits.

Wednesday - 05/28/2014, 04:49am EDT
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Bob Cusack, The Hill Newspaper

Democratic and Republican members of Congress are at loggerheads over immigration reform. Meanwhile agencies who carry out immigration policy wonder what will happen. Leaders cannot agree on issues such as border security, work visas, and other issues. If the House fails to pass some type of reform by the end of July, some Democratic senators say President Obama will act on his own. Bob Cusack is the managing editor of The Hill newspaper. He joined Tom Temin and Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive to discuss exactly what laws are up for reforming.

Tuesday - 05/27/2014, 09:10am EDT
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Lawmakers call for tighter grip on VA hospitals

Lawmakers overseeing VA hospital system urge remedies to ease long waits and backlogs

Monday - 05/26/2014, 07:02pm EDT

Burwell gets committee approval for health post

Senate Finance Committee approves Burwell for health secretary, sends to full Senate

Sunday - 05/25/2014, 01:50pm EDT

Senators propose 3.3 percent federal pay hike to start in 2015

Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act Friday, calling for a 3.3 percent pay increase for federal employees for calendar year 2015. Federal employee union leaders praised the proposal, which would raise feds' pay more than the 1 percent President Barack Obama introduced in his 2015 budget proposal. The bill is similar to one introduced in March by House Democrats.

Friday - 05/23/2014, 03:07pm EDT

House passes curbs on NSA phone surveillance

House votes to end NSA bulk collection of Americans' phone records _ but restraints limited

Friday - 05/23/2014, 10:54am EDT

Both houses of Congress deal blows to DoD's cost-cutting proposals

The House passed its version of the annual defense authorization bill Thursday, while the Senate's is still a work in progress. Both versions mostly shun DoD's proposals to cut costs during sequestration.

Friday - 05/23/2014, 03:32am EDT
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How to make the federal workforce feel respected once again

People work better and more efficiently when they feel respected. And lately, Congress hasn't done a lot to make federal workers feel valued, says Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in a column written for Federal News Radio's special report, Trust Redefined: Reconnecting Government and Its Employees. But, Tester says, he has a plan to start changing that low morale.

Thursday - 05/22/2014, 04:00am EDT
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House approves bill to speed firings at VA

The House has approved a bill to give the Veterans Affairs secretary more authority to fire or demote senior executives at the agency. The bill responds to a growing furor over allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals.

Wednesday - 05/21/2014, 07:30pm EDT

What's the latest on Capitol Hill?

NARFE's Chris Farrell joins host Mike Causey to talk about some of the bills introduced in Congress that affect federal workers.
May 21, 2014

Wednesday - 05/21/2014, 05:43pm EDT
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Lawmakers worried DHS losing faith in Federal Protective Service

The Federal Protective Service will no longer coordinate security at DHS headquarters on Nebraska Avenue in Northwest D.C. according to a May 1 memo from the agency's chief security officer to the undersecretary for management. The memo was brought to light Wednesday by members of a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee at a hearing on the security of federal buildings. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, cited the DHS memo as a possible sign that "confidence in FPS may be eroding" from within DHS.

Wednesday - 05/21/2014, 04:40pm EDT
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