Wednesday federal headlines – September 30, 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.

  • Senate lawmakers are pushing defense officials for a definitive policy on cyber attacks. Congress is concerned a lack of policy could jeopardize the United States’ ability to respond to a cyber attack. The Defense Department said it has a cyber strategy that covers most of the congressional worries. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the strategy an “exercise in options” and not a viable policy. The fiscal 2014 Defense Authorization Act requires DoD to come up with a cyber policy. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department will create a new chief learning and engagement officer position. This person will be responsible for leading the department’s agencywide engagement program. DHS fell to the bottom of this year’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results; 53 percent of DHS employees said they’re engaged and satisfied with their jobs, 1 percent lower than last year’s score. It’s the sixth year in a row engagement scores have fallen at DHS. (Federal News Radio)
  • Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.) introduce a bill to secure retroactive pay for federal employees furloughed by a government shutdown. The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act has 65 sponsors from both parties. The National Treasury Employees Union said it will support the bill. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ben Cardin (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employees will pay an average of 6.4 percent more for health care insurance in 2016. That’s nearly twice the boost that occurred last year. Vision insurance will rise 3.1 percent and dental insurance will go up by 2.2 percent. The Office of Personnel Management attributed the rate increases in part to the rising costs of prescription drugs. OPM said the 250 plans include the self-plus-one option for the first time, letting employees and retirees move off the family plan when insuring just two people. Open season begins Nov. 9. (Federal News Radio)
  • Uniformed service members are getting a 1.3 percent pay raise in 2016. The House and Senate agreed in the conference report of the 2016 Defense Authorization bill to give uniformed members a larger bump than the President approved in August. President Barack Obama signed off on a 1 percent raise for all federal employees. Generals and flag officers will continue to see their pay frozen for another year. (House of Representatives)
  • Agencies made little progress  over the last two years protecting their data and computer networks based on a review of their information security reports. The Government Accountability Office is reporting most CFO Act agencies continue to have weaknesses around access control, configuration management and security management. GAO also said agencies are inconsistently implementing federal security laws. These results, however, do not take into account progress made this summer under OMB’s cyber sprint. (GAO)
  • More mid-level federal employees will get the chance to work for another agency for six months as part of an expanded leadership-training program. The President’s Management Council is making its interagency rotational program for GS-13s, 14s, and 15s nationwide. The Office of Personnel Management is asking all Federal Executive Boards to serve as catalysts in their regions. So far, the program has been in place in Washington and five other cities. Since the program’s launch in 2011, 350 professionals have participated in it. OPM said  those participants are more engaged in their work and better prepared to join the Senior Executive Service. (CHOC)
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced a bill to guarantee service members and DoD civilian employees get paid in the event of a government shutdown. The bill would also cover National Guard troops called to active duty, as well as defense contractor employees. (Rep. Mike Coffman)

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