Monday federal headlines – September 21, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows. Our headlines are updated twice per day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon — with the latest news affecting federal employees and contractors.

  • Official Washington braces for a visit from Pope Francis. He’s expected to arrive in D.C. on Tuesday afternoon, by way of Joint Base Andrews. The Office of Personnel Management urges federal employees to telework. Officials expect closures and detours to cause delays on both roads and Metro. The Pope departs Thursday afternoon. (WTOP)
    • Are you a federal employee planning to telework during Pope Francis’ visit to Washington? Let us know how you plan on handling your commute by taking our online survey.
  • A White House staff member was killed when his bicycle was struck by a car during a charity ride over the weekend. Jacob Thomas Brewer of Arlington was policy advisor in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, part of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The ride, to raise money for cancer research, started in D.C. and went to Mount Airy, Maryland and back. Both President Barack Obama and White House CTO Megan Smith praised Brewer’s talent and service. Brewer leaves his wife, Mary Katherine, and one child with a second expected in two months. (WTOP)
  • Defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall signs over some of his acquisition powers to the military secretaries. The move comes as Congress is putting pressure on DoD to do just that. Service secretaries will be responsible for cost schedule and performance reporting for the affected programs. Many of the programs are service specific and not DoD-wide. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Combatant Command leader says he is on the ragged edge of meeting global needs for air power. Gen. Herbert Carlisle said his pilots are burnt out from a lack of capacity. The Air Force is currently the smallest it has ever been since its creation in 1947. Carlisle says most of his resource needs lie in cyber, space and reconnaissance. (Federal News Radio)
  • One congressman wants to make sure fellow lawmakers do not get paid if the government shuts down on Oct. 1. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) introduced a bill to prohibit payments to members of Congress during funding lapses. Nolan’s bill is jointly referred to the Administration and Oversight and Government Reform committees. Nolan’s bill follows several others to ensure federal employees do get paid if the government is shutdown. (Congress /The Hill)
  • A blue ribbon panel makes four recommendations for improving care of veterans by the Veterans Health Administration. The report says VHA is in need of a total transformation, at an estimated cost of $51 billion over 10 years. Panelists said the agency suffers misalignment of demand, resources  and authorities. Plus it lacks integration in clinical and business information. Congress called for the assessment as part of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. (VA)
  • President Obama has picked a new Army secretary. Eric Fanning’s appointment requires Senate confirmation, but if lawmakers give the go-ahead, he would take over as the Army’s top civilian official in November, when current Army Secretary John McHugh has said he’ll step down after having served in the post since the very beginning of the Obama Administration. Fanning is currently the acting undersecretary of the Army. Before that, he was a top Navy official, then the undersecretary of the Air Force. He also served for a brief time as the acting Air Force secretary before Defense Secretary Ash Carter asked him to serve as his own chief of staff. If confirmed, Fanning would be the first openly gay official to gain Senate confirmation as the head of a military department. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon says it want to hold its commanders more accountable for the cyber readiness of their units. U.S. Cyber Command has been doing spot inspections of military bases for the last several years.  But failing a cyber inspection hasn’t meant much. CYBERCOM’s deputy commander, Air Force Maj. Gen. James McLaughlin, said that’s changing. From now on, military units found to have serious cyber vulnerabilities face cut-off from DoD networks until they fix their problems. CYBERCOM is developing IT tools that will grade individual units on whether they’ve complied with DoD cyber directives. Defense officials expect to reach a consensus on how to employ those tools within the next few weeks. (Federal News Radio)