Friday federal headlines – December 4, 2015

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on the Federal Drive.

  • The Chinese government says it’s arrested a handful of hackers who they say were responsible for the data breach at the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year. The Washington Post reports the arrests took place shortly before a state visit in September by President Xi Jinping. The identities of the suspects and whether they are connected to the Chinese government remain unknown however. Officials said it is also hard to confirm whether those arrested were actually connected to the OPM breach. (Washington Post)
  • FBI Director James Comey names Randall Coleman as executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch at FBI headquarters. He will oversee all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, international operations, critical incident response, and victim assistance. Coleman most recently served as assistant director of the counterintelligence division starting back in April 2014. (FBI)
  • Federal contractors paid more than $1 billion in fiscal 2015 to settle False Claims Act allegations and lawsuits. The Justice Department is reporting that payments from contractors made up a large portion of the more than $3.5 billion in overall recoveries last year. The largest portion of the recoveries came from the healthcare industry, paying $1.9 billion in fines.  As part of the False Claims Act, whistleblowers filed 638 qui tam suits last year, which helped DoJ recover $2.8 billion in these and earlier filed suits this past year.  Whistleblower received awards totaling $597 million for alerting DoJ to these potential fraud and waste. This is the fourth year in a row Justice recovered more than $3.5 billion in False Claims Act efforts. Since 2009, DoJ has won more than $26 billion through these lawsuits. (Justice Department)
  • DoD, GSA, and NASA are finalizing the rule establishing a minimum wage for contractors. It will implement the executive order issued last year saying contractors must pay workers a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. That amount can be increased by the Secretary of Labor using measurements like the Consumer Price Index to determine how high it should be. (Federal Register)
  • The Navy releases its new mobile Operations Security app designed to make annual training requirements more accessible to sailors. They will be able to complete required training on the OPSEC app and also access related resources and policies.  Family members may also access the information and complete the training, if they desire. (Navy)
  • The current military personnel system doesn’t give military and civilian defense employees enough flexibility in their careers. Several defense experts testified for the Senate Armed Services Committee. They said the decades-old Defense Officers Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) is holding DoD back from making major changes. Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he’ll continue to push his committee to come up with some kind of bipartisan reform to the personnel system. (Federal News Radio)
  • Military officials are telling Congress that low funds are compromising infrastructure modernization and jeopardizing future military readiness. Top infrastructure officials in the Army and Marine Corps said the military has put off future investments in training ranges and barracks to focus on current operations. As a result required training is being delayed and facilities will not be upgraded for at least 20 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate awarded $7.8 million to five organizations to figure out how best to defend against attacks on cyber physical systems. The awards will address inherent weaknesses and strengthen cyber defenses in the areas of automotive security, building control systems and medical device security. In the area of building control systems, for example, the goal is to develop early-warning systems and stronger architectures to enforce security and safety requirements.
  • Veterans Affairs officials said they botched disciplinary proceedings against two senior executives who had misused the hiring and promotion system for their personal benefit and ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in relocation expenses. VA said  it failed to provide Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves with all the paperwork to which they were entitled. In a statement, the department said it will start the disciplinary proceedings all over again.