DOD’s brave new world – Plus the 7 Gov Stories You Need to Know

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But up front: DOD’s brave new world

The Obama administration is proposing big changes for the Defense Department. Army Times bills it with the provocative headline, Budget Targets Troops.

The Pentagon on Monday proposed the deepest and most far-reaching cuts to military compensation in the 40-year history of the all-volunteer force, explaining that such cuts are necessary in order to pay for more modern gear and high-tech weaponry.  Some highlights of the Defense Department’s budget proposal for fiscal 2015 include the first-ever rollback in Basic Allowance for Housing; a military pay raise that would match last year’s 1 percent hike, the lowest in the volunteer era; massive cuts to commissary subsidies; and potentially increased health care fees for both active-duty families and retirees.

Four stories to understand the Defense Department budget

The Washington Post: Pentagon budget would affect cost of living for troops and families: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday proposed trimming the Defense Department’s personnel costs with cuts in military benefits, pay and troop numbers. The Pentagon’s 2015 budget request, due for release on Tuesday, would reduce housing allowances, increase health-care fees for active-duty families and military retirees, slash commissary subsidies by 71 percent and place a one-year hold on pay raises for the highest-ranking officers. The plan also calls for shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years. Many of the changes would increase the cost of living for U.S. troops, veterans and their families. Military groups have said they will fight those proposals.

The Wall Street Journal: Hagel's military budget focuses on changing threats: "The Pentagon road map, sure to face fierce resistance from lawmakers in both parties, calls for reducing the military's reliance on manpower-heavy troop buildups, investing instead in more agile special forces and cyberwarriors...Mr. Hagel wants to pare back the size of the active-duty military by 13% and the reserves by 5% in coming years. But he would boost the size of Special Operations forces by nearly 6% by adding about 3,000 personnel to the kinds of teams that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan."

The New York Times: Pentagon officials say they accept the risks of a smaller army:Many defense experts interviewed Monday said that given the budget realities, the decision to cut back on the Army made sense, even with the increased risk. One goal of reducing personnel costs, for example, is to find more money for training and weapons. Given that President Obama has said he wants to move away from a permanent war footing, budgetary gains would come from not having to carry a large land-war invasion army when the country is no longer engaged in such invasions.

DefenseOne: Pentagon's Post-War Budget Marks End of War Era:  Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previews the first budget in 13 years for a military no longer on a 'war footing.’: President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget request reflects a major shift for the U.S.military after 13 long years of war. In a speech previewing the request, which is expected to be released next week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the military of the future will be smaller but, Pentagon officials hope, more agile, adaptable and technologically superior. “This is a different time. We haven’t seen this time, in our budget, cuts in the world, what’s going on in the world,” Hagel said at the Pentagon on Monday. “Certainly, like every year, is different, but this is the first time in 13 years we will be presenting a budget to the Congress of the United States that’s not a war-footing budget.”

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Washington Post: Phishing e-mail involving TSP could have been another agency’s security test - “The TSP, a 401(k)-style program available to federal employees and military personnel, on Monday said it is investigating an e-mail that made the rounds of federal employees last week directing them to a site with a variant spelling of the TSP’s official site.”

  2. GovExec: The Supreme Court Could Limit Obama’s Executive Action Where It Matters Most: Climate Change - “On Monday, [climate change activists] will join allies at the Supreme Court to fight for an aspect of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions precisely at the moment that the national political debate has become focused on President Obama's use of his executive authority — like EPA regulations.”

  3. Federal News Radio: Navy to build its “information dominance” forces through new command - “A new organization will begin to take shape this fall, taking on the responsibility for manning, training and equipping the entire service for information warfare.”

  4. Texas Tribune: Latest Texas-EPA Battle Goes Before U.S. Supreme Court - “The question before the court is whether permits needed by large polluting facilities like power plants, factories and refineries should also restrict emissions of greenhouse gases.”

  5. Federal News Radio: GSA awards 123 small firms a spot on OASIS contract - “The first of two contracts letting agencies buy complex professional services kicked off with awards going to 123 small businesses.”

  6. Federal Times: EPA sees reductions in enforcement, inspections through 2018 - “Tight budgets will dramatically curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to perform its traditional enforcement mission, according to a draft agency strategic plan.”

  7. NextGov: The Largest BitCoin Exchange Was Possibly the Target of a $350 Million Theft - “According to a leaked document, which has not been verified but is circulating widely among Bitcoin proponents, a bug in the bitcoin wallet software allowed hackers to steal the digital currency, even from offline ‘cold storage.’”

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  • The Wall Street Journal: Regulators go big on big data: U.S. securities regulators are making greater use of big data, using economists and data-driven decisions to improve examinations, monitor market risks, complete stress tests and select enforcement cases. “To be an effective 21st-century regulator, the SEC is indeed using 21st-century tools,” Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White said at a Practising Law Institute Conference in Washington, D.C. The agency, for example, is working to identify accounting fraud faster by focusing on patterns of conduct that are risks in areas like revenue recognition or management estimates. “We’re really looking for how [fraud] is happening and where it is happening,” echoed David Woodcock, chair of the SEC’s Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force. He said his task force is using analytics to review past frauds and mine that data to help future investigations.

  • Yesterday we mentioned the Thomas Friedman column about how Google hires. That article has spurred a GovLoop discussion: Should Gov Hire Like Google/Silicon Valley? Why or why not? If so, could the Executive Branch make these or similar changes to federal hiring without legislation by Congress?

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