• U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, April 2020

    The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that the goods and services deficit was $49.4 billion in April, up $7.1 billion from $42.3 billion in March, revised. April exports were $151.3 billion, $38.9 billion less than March exports. April imports were $200.7 billion, $31.8 billion less than March imports.Full Text
  • Philippines suspends abrogation of defense pact with US

    Military Times: The Philippine president has suspended his decision to terminate a key defense pact with the United States, at least temporarily avoiding a major blow to one of America’s oldest alliances in Asia.Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Tuesday he dispatched a diplomatic note to the U.S. ambassador in Manila informing the U.S. government that the Philippines is delaying its decision to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement by at least six months.
  • Pentagon moves 1,600 active-duty troops near DC as tensions escalate

    The Hill: The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it is activating active-duty units near Washington, D.C., amid escalating tensions and protests over George Floyd’s death.The Defense Department said in a statement that Secretary Mark Esper authorized the movement of approximately 1,600 troops from Fort Bragg, N.C. and Fort Drum, N.Y.
  • Lawmakers want must-pass defense bill to protect protesters from the military

    Defense News: Outraged Democrats plan to use the massive defense budget and policy bill to fight President Donald Trump’s push to use the U.S. military to quell days of riots, and they may seek defense cuts to do it.Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a senior Senate Armed Services Committee member, announced Tuesday he will introduce an amendment to the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to prevent the use of military force against American citizens exercising their First Amen
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  • Space Force Nat’l Guard Likely To Cost $100M/Year: CBO

    Breaking Defence: Creating a limited Space Force National Guard and Reserve along the lines proposed by Adjutant Generals in February will cost about $100 million each year to operate, says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). An additional $20 million might be incurred by DoD in one-time costs for the construction of new facilities, says a new study released today.Senior leadership of the Guard and Reserve, including Gen. Joseph Lengyel, head of the National Guard Bureau, have argued strenuou
  • Republicans turning against new round of $1,200 rebate checks

    The Hill: Republican lawmakers are voicing deep skepticism about passing another round of $1,200 rebate checks as they contemplate the next and possibly final stage of coronavirus relief legislation.Senate Republicans on Tuesday said they are more focused on reforming the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, providing more money for cash-strapped state and local governments, boosting benefits for Social Security recipients and fixing other elements of COVID-19 relie
  • This Treasury Official Is Running the Bailout. It’s Been Great for His Family.

    Government Executive: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have become the public faces of the $3 trillion federal coronavirus bailout. Behind the scenes, however, the Treasury’s responsibilities have fallen largely to the 42-year-old deputy secretary, Justin Muzinich.A major beneficiary of that bailout so far: Muzinich & Co., the asset manager founded by his father where Justin served as president before joining the administration. He reported o
  • Brian Miller confirmed as pandemic special inspector general in partisan vote

    CBS News: The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Trump-appointee Brian Miller as the special inspector general to oversee the taxpayer-funded coronavirus pandemic recovery fund. Miller was confirmed by a divided vote in the chamber.Senator Doug Jones of Alabama was the only Democrat to vote for Miller in the 51-40 vote.
    Miller, a White House lawyer since 2018, previously worked as a federal prosecutor and inspector general for the General Services Administration.
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  • See What the Federal Response to D.C. Protests Looks Like

    Government Executive: Hundreds of federal law enforcement personnel remained deployed throughout the nation's capital on Tuesday after President Trump activated them to respond to protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by police in Minnesota last week.  The Justice Department on Monday deployed personnel in Washington from the FBI; Drug Enforcement Agency; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; and Bureau of Prison
  • HHS changes rules for $50 billion provider grants before key deadline

    Modern Healthcare: HHS changed the rules for $50 billion in provider COVID-19 relief grants the day before providers are required to submit financial information to receive their full share of payments, according to the department's website.HHS is requiring providers to send their money back Wednesday if they still want to be eligible for their full grant allocation but aren't ready to accept the grant terms and conditions. Providers could re-apply for funds, and would then have 90 days to agree
  • Poll: Nearly Three-Fourths of Americans Would Get Coronavirus Vaccine

    Route Fifty: About 71% of Americans would get a vaccine for the coronavirus if it were free and widely available, a large increase from a week ago, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and ABC News.Those results, obtained by a phone survey of a random sample of 1,001 adults from May 25 to May 28, show a significant increase in the number of people who say they would opt to be vaccinated. A poll released last week by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Resea
  • COVID-19 emergency shows limitations of nationwide data sharing infrastructure

    Healthcare IT News: Several initiatives are working to gather patient data and map information on the spread of COVID-19, even as public health and federal efforts are bogged down in manual and paper-based processes.The private initiatives are looking to incorporate ways to demonstrate the spread and extent of the pandemic in various geographic areas, seeking to enable health researchers to better understand how the virus is spreading, who it's affecting and how to potentially prevent it from af
  • ONC weighs pros and cons of national patient identifier

    Modern Healthcare: Experts convened by HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology clashed over the role a national patient identifier could play in improving patient-matching among healthcare organizations.A national patient identifier—which would give patients permanent, unique identification numbers—has been banned by Congress for decades on account of privacy and security concerns, but the discussion has been reopened in recent years, in part due to
  • COVID-19 Social Distancing Is Normalizing Telehealth

    Government Technology: What was once considered as an experimental way to deliver health care, telehealth, has now become a mainstream delivery system.While many people are just now getting a taste of telehealth because of the coronavirus pandemic, the idea behind it and the act to develop it has been around for quite awhile.
  • Oklahoma health agency to no longer release detailed data

    Associated Press: The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Monday it will no longer release specific information about COVID-19 infections and deaths in nursing homes, cities or by zip code.Agency spokeswoman Donelle Harder said attorneys at the department and in the governor’s office agreed state law prohibits the release of such detailed information but that they did so under the powers granted to the governor under the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act. Those powers, whi
  • COVID-19 apps want user data, but few say they'll protect it

    MobiHealth News: A large portion of COVID-19 apps available in the Google Play Store ask users for advanced access permissions, but very few indicate to users that collected data will be made anonymous and secured, according to an analysis of 50 such apps published recently in Nature Medicine.The investigation – conducted by two researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Illinois Informatics Institute – reviewed a sample of apps hailing from dozens of different
  • New bill would mandate research on telehealth regs after coronavirus

    Healthcare IT News: The moves by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to relax regulations around telehealth have been lauded by providers and patients around the country. But after the danger from the coronavirus has passed, some fear that the agency will reinstate those regulations, making telehealth less accessible for those who need it.
    Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, introduced a bill yesterday that would mandate a study on the effects of telehealth changes on Medicare and Medicaid
  • California AG Seeks More Power To Battle Merger-Hungry Health Care Chains

    Route Fifty: California’s health care industry has a consolidation problem.Independent physician practices, outpatient clinics and hospitals are merging or getting gobbled up by private equity firms or large health care systems. A single company can dominate an entire community, and in some cases, vast swaths of the state.Such dominance can inflate prices, and consumers end up facing higher insurance premiums, more expensive outpatient services and bigger out-of-pocket costs to see special
  • AHA Asks HHS for $52B in Emergency Funding

    Health Leaders: The American Hospital Association on Tuesday pressed the federal government for an additional $52 billion in "expedited" emergency funding to help the nation's hospitals stem losses accrued during the coronavirus pandemic."Many hospitals are in dire circumstances as they face the biggest financial crisis in history," AHA President and CEO Richard J. Pollack said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
  • Government Falls into a Recession and Job Cuts Soar

    Governing: Nearly a million jobs were lost in the public sector in April. Services are needed more than ever, but the resources to provide them are vanishing. A survey by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that furloughs and layoffs are hitting cities of all sizes, with the rates rising in proportion to the size of the populations. Almost 60 percent of municipalities above 500,000 population will furlough employees and nearly half will have to lay them of
  • Grand Forks, N.D., Approves Funds for Possible Tech Hub

    Government Technology: The Jobs Development Authority of Grand Forks approved a round of funding for public and private projects, one of which could lead to creating a downtown Tech Hub in the city.The JDA, at its June 1 meeting, approved a funding request that would allow it to apply for a federal grant to begin work on a proposed $1.2 million Tech Hub. The grant, administered by The U.S Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, would supply $600,000 in funds to comple
  • The telework rush tested states’ cybersecurity, IT maturity

    StateScoop: When the COVID-19 pandemic forced state government employees to start working from home earlier this year, no one was fully prepared. Most employees hadn’t been acclimated to the isolation they would soon experience, states didn’t have enough equipment or software licenses to go around and cybersecurity officials didn’t have enough time to ensure operations could continue under the same conservative privacy and data-security standards.As Daniel Dister, chief informa
  • Democratic Governors Tell Trump They Don’t Want Military to Deal With Protests

    Route Fifty: Democratic state and local leaders are bristling at President Trump’s suggestion that he might deploy military troops into U.S. cities to stop riots and other unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes.Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the U.S. in the past week to protest—many of them peacefully. But the demonstrations have also seen vio
  • National Guard civil unrest update: More than 17,000 troops in 23 states and DC activated

    Military Times:  The National Guard has drastically increased it’s response to unrest sweeping America over what prosecutors say was the murder of a handcuffed black man by Minneapolis police. There are now more than 17,000 National Guard troops in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been activated to help quell the unrest.That’s more than a three-fold increase in just over a day.
  • DoD Melds Four Commands For Multi-Domain Data Sharing Test

    Breaking Defense: For the first time, four combatant commands are linking up to share real-time data during a homeland defense exercise designed to stop an enemy aircraft breaking into US airspace. The drill, which kicked off this week, marks an early test of the Pentagon’s emerging effort to quickly share data and operate against advanced threats across sea and air domains.The May 28-31 exercise taking place off the US East Coast is being run by Northern Command and involves Space, Transp
  • Braithwaite sworn in as new Navy secretary after months of leadership tumult

    Federal News Network: Kenneth Braithwaite took the oath of office to become the 77th secretary of the Navy on Friday, ending a long stretch during which the Navy Departments top job has been vacant, and at times, mired in turmoil.Braithwaite is the first Senate-confirmed Navy secretary since last November, when the Trump Administration fired Richard Spencer. In a message to sailors and Marines on Friday, the former U.S. ambassador to Norway called the latest appointment “the honor of my li
  • The Pentagon has spent 23% of its COVID-19 response funds. Congress is asking why not more.

    Defense News: The Pentagon has spent less than a quarter of the $10.6 billion Congress gave it in March to protect military personnel and marshal American industry to procure face masks, ventilators and other products hospitals need in their fight against the coronavirus.Citing the Trump administration’s most recent reports to Congress, Democratic senators say the Pentagon has placed on contract 23 percent of the funds it was provided nine weeks ago as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief,
  • Weekend of Violent Protests Leaves Trail of Damage for Feds

    Government Executive: Federal officials over the weekend were thrust into the middle of the violent fury sweeping cities across the country following the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Graphic video showing Floyd’s death as police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he begged for air sparked international revulsion and days of protests across the country.
    Late Friday, one Fe
  • USCIS threatens furloughs amid budget shortfall, TSA to offer more early retirements

    Federal News Network: Workforce changes may be coming soon to two subcomponents at the Department of Homeland Security.Due to a “dramatic decrease in revenue” during the coronavirus pandemic, employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may face administrative furloughs in July — unless Congress steps in with emergency supplemental funding.
  • Top FBI lawyer resigns

    The Hill: The FBI's top lawyer resigned on Friday as President Trump and his supporters continue to condemn the agency for its investigations into former staffers and Trump allies.
    An FBI spokesperson confirmed on Sunday that Dana Boente’s 38-year career in senior roles at the Justice Department will end on June 30, when his retirement goes into effect.
  • VA Says It's Providing a COVID-19 Test to Any Employee Who Asks. Employees Say That's Not True.

    Government Executive: Veterans Affairs Department employees across the country are disputing a claim VA leadership made to Congress on Thursday that any employee who wants a COVID-19 test—for any reason—could get one.   Government Executive heard from employees at a dozen VA facilities in as many states who said the department was not offering widespread testing for the disease related to the novel coronavirus. In most cases, they said, only symptomatic workers could receiv
  • CMS proposes tweaking ACA risk-adjustment audit methodology

    Modern Healthcare: The CMS on Friday issued a proposed rule to tweak the way it audits the Affordable Care Act's risk-adjustment program, which is meant to reduce incentives for health insurers to cherry-pick the healthiest, low-cost plan members.The agency proposed making technical changes to how it audits the accuracy of data submitted by payers under the risk-adjustment program, which it said would strengthen the program's integrity.
  • Tech optimization: Making quality and safety integral to clinical processes

    Healthcare IT News: The technologies available to ensure high-quality care and patient safety are varied, but all depend on data, especially from electronic health record systems, to ensure care providers are making the best decisions during care delivery and have developed safe treatment plans.But making clinical decision support and advanced analytics models work together optimally is easier said than done.
  • Proponents of bill ending Connecticut's religious exemption to vaccines eye special session for vote

    The CT Mirror: Legislative leaders, who initially intended to avoid controversial bills during a special session this summer, are now poised to tackle one of the most divisive issues: A measure that would remove Connecticut’s religious exemption from mandatory vaccinations.Democratic leaders in both chambers said the COVID-19 crisis has made an already-pressing problem even more urgent – the declining rate of children being vaccinated because they are claiming a non-medical exemption
  • Texas AG Brokers Deal With Counties on Opioid Payouts

    Route Fifty: The Texas Attorney General reached an agreement this week with a group of counties that will lay out how money from a national opioid settlement will be paid out to local governments.Lawyers involved in the negotiation said the agreement could be a model for other states looking to work out deals to disperse money meant to help governments respond to the ongoing opioid crisis before a national settlement is finalized.
  • Multiple Events Creating 'The Perfect Path to Divisions in Our Society'

    Governing: Over the weekend, protests over police shootings spread from Minneapolis to dozens of cities, leading to riots and curfews in numerous places. For many, this brought to mind the waves of protests and civil unrest during the 1960s, which also resulted in violence and the destruction of property.All this comes at a time when the country was on edge due to the coronavirus pandemic and a deep economic downturn. And it comes just five months ahead of a national election that was already ce
  • Will COVID-19 Cause Long-Term Tech Changes for Courts?

    Government Technology: County court systems have used technology to conduct business during COVID-19 social distancing, and some of those uses are yielding benefits that may lead to long-term changes, officials estimate.Over the past three months, COVID-19 social distancing has upended the logistical functions of nearly all aspects of American governance, including court systems. It sounds obvious, but so much of the courts functionality happens through in-person interactions, be it outward-faci
  • As unemployment fraud spreads, Washington state recovers $300M

    StateScoop: As a wave of unemployment fraud slows the ability of states to deliver funds to legitimate applicants, Washington state officials said Thursday that recent tweaks to the unemployment benefits system are helping the state reclaim stolen money and process legitimate claims faster.The Washington Employment Security Department announced Thursday it recovered $300 million in funds fraudulently diverted by scammers, while many jobless workers affected by business closures during the COVID-
  • Gov. Gary Herbert plans to keep National Guard deployed after Trump extends coronavirus orders

    The Salt Lake Tribune: President Donald Trump says he will extend the ability to deploy National Guard troops through mid-August to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, giving Gov. Gary Herbert the option to keep Utah’s soldiers and airmen assisting with contact tracing and delivery of masks, gloves and other medical gear.About 160 soldiers and airmen in Utah have been deployed to help so far, though their federal deployment was set to expire June 24, one day shy of many National Guard memb
  • Personal Income and Outlays, April 2020

    Personal income increased 10.5 percent (monthly rate) in April according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income increased 12.9 percent and consumer spending decreased 13.6 percent.Full Text
  • White House responds to trend of firing inspectors general

    Federal Times: The White House said that President Donald Trump followed the law when he fired multiple inspectors general in the last two months, but the administration offered no new details about why they were let go.A White House letter was issued Tuesday in response to concerns from a prominent Republican senator over Trump’s recent upheaval of the inspector general community. The letter is unlikely to quell outrage from Democrats and good-government groups who fear the president is m
  • Federal employees have few incentives to report sexual harassment at work, commission finds

    Federal News Network: Federal employees have little faith in the statutory protections and byzantine systems designed to help them seek redress on sexual harassment claims made at work, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said.One in seven employees have experienced sexual harassment in recent years, though the actual numbers are likely much higher, the independent federal agency said recently.
  • U.S. taxpayers' virus relief went to firms that avoided U.S. taxes

    Reuters: Last month Zagg Inc, a Utah-based company that makes mobile device accessories, received more than $9.4 million in cash from a U.S. government program that has provided emergency loans to millions of businesses hit by the coronavirus.
    The money was part of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a linchpin of President Donald Trump’s economic rescue package, meant to save small firms convulsed by the pandemic and help them to keep workers on the payroll.
  • Senators Ask Labor Inspector General for Review of OSHA’s Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Government Executive: On Wednesday, a group of senators called on the Labor Department inspector general to review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s actions during the novel coronavirus pandemic following criticism the agency is not doing enough to protect workers.
    Former officials and lawmakers have called on OSHA to have a more active role during the pandemic and issue an emergency temporary standard to protect frontline workers from the virus. The AFL-CIO filed a lawsu
  • House passes small business loan tweaks that would help healthcare providers

    Modern Healthcare: The House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would allow healthcare providers that received forgivable small business loans more flexibility on how they can spend the money.The House overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act 417-1. The bill is timely because the current eight-week deadline for borrowers to use funds is approaching for the first businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program loans. There is a similar proposal
  • Three ways providers get HIPAA right of access wrong

    Healthcare IT News: The HIPAA Privacy Rule Right of Individual Access guarantees that patients can get copies, physical or digital, of their healthcare records from their providers. Simple as that.But then again, it’s not as simple as it might first sound. Many provider organizations misinterpret this area of HIPAA law. One mistake can lead a hospital, health system or group practice into noncompliance with HIPAA – the consequences of which can include substantial fines.
  • External Threats Outpace Insider-Related Breaches in Healthcare

    Healthcare IT Security: The number of confirmed data breaches in the healthcare sector substantially increased last year, as external threats exceeded the number of insider-related incidents for one of the first times, according to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).For its 2020 DBIR, Verizon researchers analyzed a total of 3,950 data breaches across 16 sectors and four global regions, along with 157,525 security incidents (of which 32,002 met its quality standards). Res
  • Medicaid providers increasingly frustrated by delays in COVID-19 funding

    The Hill: Health care providers that primarily treat the poor, children and people with disabilities are getting left out of the COVID-19 aid being issued by the Trump administration, frustrating advocates who worry about the future of the Medicaid safety net.The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided $72 billion to help hospitals and clinics stay afloat during the pandemic, but Medicaid providers — including mental health and substance use clinics, disability care prov
  • Inhofe, Reed back new military fund to confront China

    Defense News: As the U.S. Congress hardens against Beijing, two key lawmakers publicly added their support for a new military fund to boost deterrence against China in the Pacific, virtually assuring a Pacific Deterrence Initiative of some kind will be in the next defense policy bill.Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., announced their new stance in a War on the Rocks op-ed Thursday. They said their version will back investments in l
  • Trump seeks new arms deal with Saudi Arabia, says key senator

    Defense News: The Trump administration is pursuing a new deal to provide precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, as prior sales to the kingdom are facing new scrutiny, a top Senate Democrat said Wednesday.The news has sparked a backlash from multiple high profile Senate Democrats. It comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday confirmed that he knew his department’s inspector general, Steve Linick, who the president fired this month, was investigating a massive arms sale to

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