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FCW Insider: Feb. 6

Lawmakers remain impatient for a single point of accountability for $21 billion in linked efforts by Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize electronic health records systems. Acting VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne told a panel of Senate appropriators that a single responsible official -- an EHR czar, if you will -- could be in the offing. Adam Mazmanian reports.

Deadlines for solicitations on the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions vehicle may need to shift to accommodate agencies that were shuttered during the recent lapse in appropriations. Mark Rockwell has more.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security weighed in as part of an interagency process to assess foreign efforts to hack into voting machines and election systems or alter voter behavior through online influence campaigns. Derek B. Johnson has their verdict.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), head of the Senate Budget Committee, is worried about growing Census IT costs and staffing challenges. Chase Gunter has the story.

For more secure election equipment to be available for the 2020 vote, Congress must act in 2019, state officials say. That's why, as Derek explains, states are seeking more security money but fewer mandates.

A divided Congress is a recipe for gridlock, right? Not so fast, write Booz Allen's Matt Erskine and Ben Marglin in this FCW commentary. There are bipartisan agency goals that leaders can and should pursue during the current legislative session.

Quick Hits

*** Federal employees are having issues getting correctly compensated for missed pay during the 35-day shutdown. 

Approaching two weeks since the end of the shutdown, the American Federation of Government Employees reports that some feds haven't received their full back pay, some automatic deductions have been incorrect, and agencies haven't given employees clarity on when these issues might be resolved. 

Issues with the Department of Interior's shared service system led to discrepancies with deductions for National Archives employees, according to Ashby Crowder, a NARA employee and union chapter president. Crowder also said employees' payments do not appear in their online payroll system.

AFGE national president J. David Cox called the payroll issues "yet another slap in the face."

As agencies scrambled to issue back pay in the week back from the shutdown, the Office of Personnel Management cautioned employees the initial payments back could be wonky, and asked employees and agencies to be patient as issues get resolved. 

Last week, 29 senators urged acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert to publicize when employees would receive their back pay.

To help make it easier for feds to dip into their retirement funds and make payments during future shutdowns, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board relaxed the loan program rules in advance of another potential lapse Feb. 15. 

*** Christine Calvosa was named Feb. 1 to serve as CIO of the Federal Communications Commission on a permanent basis. Calvosa, who had been in the role on an acting basis for more than a year, has been at the FCC since 2014, and served as deputy CIO for technology and resiliency. Before that, she was CTO at the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The FCC's aggressive agenda requires an expert and agile information technology team. That team needs a leader with deep expertise in all aspects of IT development, deployment, and information security," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.

Posted on Feb 06, 2019 at 12:40 AM


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