Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be leaving his post once a successor is nominated and confirmed, a Nov. 24 Defense Department news release says. Obama praised Hagel's service and noted he became the head of the DoD at a particularly difficult time. "When I asked Chuck to serve as secretary of defense, we were entering a significant period of transition," Obama said in the news release.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for an increased Defense Department budget, despite the looming threat of another year of sequestration related budget cuts in fiscal 2016. Chairman Martin Dempsey said even with the partial sequestration relief written into the fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015 budget framework, the $535 billion spending cap isn't enough.
Support for bill that would overhaul the Veterans Affairs Department's suicide prevention strategy gained steam on both sides of the aisle in the Senate after the mother of a combat vet who committed suicide testified to the troubles with the current system. "Clay's story details the urgency needed in addressing this issue," Susan Selke, said at a Nov. 19 Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. "Despite his proactive and open approach to seeking care to address his injuries, the VA system did not adequately address his needs. Even today, we continue to hear about both individual and systemic failures by the VA to provide adequate care and address the needs of veterans."
With the two year sequestration reprieve that came from the Murray-Ryan budget deal last year, the Defense Department has begun to rebound from the automatic spending cuts, but that could all be for naught if those cuts come back next year, DoD Deputy Secretary Robert Work said at a Nov. 12 Center for Strategic and International Studies event. The budget deal expires at the end of fiscal 2015 and if sequestration is reinstated in full, it would cause major problems for the DoD, Work said at the event.
The Defense Department didn't follow an oversight rule for most of the cost-reimbursement contracts reviewed in a recent audit and could have overpaid for the acquisitions, says a Nov. 7 DoD inspector general report. The IG reviewed 604 contracts valued at $82.7 billion in total to see if they followed a Federal Acquisition Regulation rule finalized in 2012 that is meant to add layers to the oversight of cost-reimbursement contracts.
The chip-and-PIN system is being increasingly adopted in more and more places because it offers additional security to credit card users and merchants – namely a two-step authentication system that protects against identity theft. Cards with a magnetic strip and signature system are relatively easy to counterfeit.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which provides audit and financial advisory services to the Defense Department, hasn't advised contracting officers on proper cost and pricing data, according to a recently released report from DoD's inspector general.
Beginning Nov. 1, DoD says that civilian employees on government business who stay at a location for more than 30 days will receive a flat per diem that is about 75 percent of a locality's current rate. If they travel for more than 180 days, then the per diem is only 55 percent of the local rate.
If the Pentagon uses offensive military operations in cyberspace, it must first carefully consider "projected effects," including impacts on non-military and foreign policy areas, says a recently declassified military document.
The Defense Department has cut contracting dollars by 16 percent in 2013 from the prior year as a result of sequestration, according to a recent report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. DoD's budget was cut by about 8 percent in 2013, from 2012, and spending on procurement took the brunt of the hit, the Oct. 15 report says.