Tuesday federal headlines – October 13, 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.

  • Just in time for open season, Healthcare.gov has put new security and privacy tools in place. The Department of Health and Human Services is launching a privacy manager. This tool lets citizens opt-in or out of the different types of third-party tools used by the site, such as advertising, analytics or social media. HHS is also letting users enable a “do not track” tool. This will stop digital advertising from appearing on users’ web browsers. Open season begins Nov. 1. (CMS)
  • A new program allows start-up businesses to license NASA patents for free. Start-up NASA offers 1,200 patents to companies getting off the ground. The patented technologies range from sensors to instrumentation. NASA has created a streamlined patent portfolio for companies to use. Start-ups must adhere to certain rules to be eligible. The offer is only open to companies formed with the express intent of commercializing the licensed NASA technology. (NASA)
  • As part of the latest NDAA bill passed by Congress, career troops will be able to decide if they would receive traditional pension checks, or opt-in for half of the promised pension benefit in a one-time, lump-sum payment. The Military Times reports that several veterans advocate groups and the Department of Defense oppose this option, saying it would cost retiring soldiers too much money if they select the lump-sum option. The new system is set to begin in 2018. (Military Times)
  • The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics has issued a class deviation clarifying that contractors and subcontractors will have nine months after a contract is awarded to comply with security standards for protecting information on non-federal information systems. The offerer will be responsible for notifying the contract officer that the extra time is needed. (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense)
  • Federal retirees and others who receive federal benefits won’t see the bump in funds next year that they’ve become accustomed to. There will be no cost-of-living adjustment for 2016. It’s just the third time in 40 years that benefits will stay flat. Low gas prices have dragged down the formula that the government uses to measure inflation. The Social Security Administration officially announces the COLA, or lack of one, on Thursday. The decision will hurt the 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors at a time when premiums for health insurance through the federal employees’ health benefits plan are set to rise. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Department of Homeland Security released new enforcement guidelines for identification cards when entering federal buildings and military bases. Visitors must now have an ID from a state that has implemented REAL ID standards. States will have a three-month grace period before federal building staff enforces the new rule. Currently, three states and one territory do not comply with REAL ID standards. Those states are Louisiana, Minnesota and New York. (Federal News Radio)
  • Dell is buying data storage company EMC Corporation for $67 billion. It’s the largest merger yet of two technology companies. It signals a growing shift in industry’s focus from personal computers to enterprise services like data storage, cloud and cybersecurity. It also reflects a trend toward major acquisitions and mergers in the federal space. VMWare will stay a publicly traded company in the deal. EMC owns an 80 percent share of that company. (Federal News Radio)