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."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Tuesday was named the new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, set to take over from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in the new year, getting the assignment over three other, more senior members.
Veterans waiting more than 30 days for an appointment at a Veterans Affair medical center will be able to seek outside health care, the department announced in a Nov. 18 statement.
For much of her career in government service, Miriam Nisbet has been on the cutting edge of the intersection of digital technology and the Freedom of Information Act. But more than 35 years after she began government service in 1978, Nisbet will leave her post as the government's top FOIA ombudsman at the end of November to take a break and pursue a career in the private sector.
The Postal Service Board of Governors voted to appoint the first female postmaster general to replace Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, who will retire early next year. The Board of Governors announced Nov. 14 in an email statement that Megan Brennan, the current USPS chief operating officer, will begin her tenure as the new postmaster general in February 2015.
A postal workers union says planned Postal Service plant closures are going to slow down mail delivery and it plans to hold a demonstration at the last USPS Board of Governors meeting on the subject Friday. "The cuts would cause hardships for the public and small businesses, eliminate jobs and destroy the world's most efficient and affordable delivery network by driving away mail and revenue," says the American Postal Workers Union in a Nov. 12 statement.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is pursuing the firing of 35 VA employees involved in tampering with medical center wait lists and is considering firing another 1,000 employees after that, McDonald said in a Nov. 8 interview on CBS's 60 Minutes. "The report we've passed up to the Senate Committee and House Committee, has about 35 names on it. I've got another report that has over 1,000," McDonald said on the program. "We're simplistically talking about people who violated our values."
The embattled Veterans Affairs Department is looking to long term reform to repair its image after the agency significantly understated the time new patients waited for an appointment in their fiscal 2013 performance appraisals. In his "action review" released (pdf) Nov. 6, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said he would focus on three areas to help get the agency back on solid footing: rebuilding trust, improving patient services and setting a course for long-term reform.
The Postal Service is predicting double-digit package growth for the holiday season and will be delivering mail seven days a week for that period, a Nov. 6 USPS statement says. Due to the continued growth in online shopping, USPS is expecting about 450 million to 470 million packages this holiday season. That's a 12 percent increase over the number of packages shipped last holiday season.
The General Services Administration amended the Federal Management Regulation to change the way it deals with surplus property, a final rule in the Oct. 30 Federal Register says. The changes include the addition of certain veterans organizations as eligible donation recipients and removing and reserving certain regulations that are no longer required.