Tuesday federal headlines – October 20, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows.

Federal spending on the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice declined from 2014 to 2015. Overall spending increased, however, by nearly $184 billion. This is all according to the monthly Treasury Department statement for September. It said spending on Defense decreased by over $15 billion. (Treasury Department)

The Office of Personnel Management...

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The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive and In Depth radio shows.

  • Federal spending on the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice declined from 2014 to 2015. Overall spending increased, however, by nearly $184 billion. This is all according to the monthly Treasury Department statement for September. It said spending on Defense decreased by over $15 billion. (Treasury Department)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is struggling to find the money it needs to update its IT capabilities, according to documents obtained by FCW. The documents show personnel raising concerns about the availability of funding for two contracts awarded for application migration and enterprise case management. (FCW)
  • Thrift Savings Plan G Fund investments will be suspended on Oct. 30 unless Congress can reach a deal on the debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office said the Treasury Department will have to resort to extraordinary measures to keep from going over the debt limit. Federal workers will not see any effect from the suspension. G Fund participants will be credited the missing investments once the debt ceiling is lifted. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency appoints John Hale as its new cloud czar. Hale previously served as the agency’s chief of enterprise applications. Hale’s appointment comes as DoD released a report outlining possible kinks in its cloud strategy. The report said DoD may have trouble paying for cloud services on a monthly basis without a more flexible spending account. (Federal News Radio)
  • An anonymous hacker claims to have breached CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account, and has posted links to his contact list and other documents. In an interview with the New York Post, the hacker claimed his opposition to U.S. foreign policy as his motivation. (Federal News Radio)
  • NASA launched a new website Monday so the world can see images of the full, sunlit side of the Earth every day. The images are taken by a NASA camera one million miles away on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force. Once a day, NASA will post at least a dozen new color images of Earth acquired from 12 to 36 hours earlier by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC). Each daily sequence of images will show the Earth as it rotates, thus revealing the whole globe over the course of a day. The new website also features an archive of EPIC images searchable by date and continent. (NOAA)
  • Agencies reimbursed more federal workers for educational benefits in 2014 than the year before. 33 agencies handed out more than $58 million in loan repayments to nearly 8,500 employees last year. But participants got slightly less in 2014 than 2013. Agencies tell the Office of Personnel Management the program is helping them recruit and retain talented employees, especially in STEM fields. But they’re worried budget cuts will continue to be a roadblock for their programs. (Federal News Radio)
  • David Baldwin is asking a federal court to order the Obama administration to pay up for alleged anti-gay discrimination he claims to have faced while working for the Federal Aviation Administration in Miami. Baldwin’s lawyer told BuzzFeed News that the purpose of the lawsuit is much larger, though, aimed at expanding the scope of a recent agency ruling that found anti-gay discrimination is barred by existing civil rights laws. (Buzzfeed News)
  • A former civilian employee of the Department of Defense was sentenced to 84 months in prison for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in a foreign place. William Curry McGrath, 55, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty on April 28, 2015, and has been in custody since his arrest in October 2014.  In addition to imposing the prison term, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas ordered McGrath to register as a sex offender and to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term. From December 2012 to March 2014, McGrath was the director of the Network Enterprise Center at the Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua, Honduras.  In connection with his guilty plea, McGrath admitted that, while stationed in Honduras, he began a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl.  He further admitted that he gave the girl money, gifts and other items of value in exchange for sexual acts. (Justice Department)
  • A former DEA agent was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice, which crimes he committed while working as an undercover agent investigating Silk Road, an online marketplace used to facilitate the sale and purchase of illegal drugs and other contraband. Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty on July 1, 2015, before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California.  In addition to imposing the prison term, the court ordered Force to pay $340,000 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release following his sentence. In connection with his guilty plea, Force admitted that, while working in an undercover capacity using his DEA-sanctioned persona, “Nob,” in the summer of 2013, Force offered to sell Ulbricht fake driver’s licenses and inside law enforcement information about the Silk Road investigation.  Force admitted that he attempted to conceal his communications with Ulbricht about the payments by directing Ulbricht to use encrypted messaging.  Force admitted that he understood the payments from Ulbricht, which were made in bitcoin, were government property, as they constituted evidence of a crime, and that he falsified official reports and stole the funds, which he deposited into his own personal account.  Force admitted that, as Nob, he received bitcoin payments from Ulbricht worth more than approximately $100,000. (Justice Department)