Wednesday federal headlines – January 27, 2016

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

  • House lawmakers are pressing 24 agencies for answers about potential cyber vulnerabilities. A bipartisan group of seven members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote to every major agency and several smaller ones seeking information about the cyber defects announced by Juniper Networks in December. The legislators want to know whether the agencies were affected by the software problems, and what steps the agency took to fix those network holes. Agencies have until Feb. 27 to respond to the committee’s letter. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The White House chose its next class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. The 11 digital and innovation experts will work with agencies over the next year on specific programs aimed at saving lives, saving taxpayer money, fueling the U.S. economy and making the government more user-friendly. Among the recent group of PIFs who are joining the government for a one-year tour-of-duty are software engineers, user-centered design experts and entrepreneurs. This is the fourth class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. Since 2012, 108 experts have worked on an assortment of programs with more than 20 agencies. (White House)
  • Federal facilities in the Washington, D.C. area will be back open today under a 3-hour delay.  Employees have the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. The decision came after two phone calls with the Metropolitan Council of Governments on Tuesday afternoon to better understand the status of the roads and mass transit. The Baltimore Federal Executive Board recommended federal offices in that region open at 10:30 a.m. today, and offer liberal leave and unscheduled telework as well. Keep checking for the latest operating status news. (Federal News Radio)
  • OPM sometimes seems to be late in issuing its rulings. That’s because it tries to get as much information as possible, first. An afternoon conference call includes officials from all of the local county governments, transit operators, and school districts. Dean Hunter, OPM’s facilities and emergency management director, said the call can involve up to 200 people.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The World War I Centennial Commission selects a design for the Washington, D.C. Memorial. It’s titled “The Weight of Sacrifice,” and it was selected from a group of five finalists, and caps off an international design competition that has run since May 2015.  The location for the new memorial is Pershing Park, in downtown D.C., which was designated by Congress in 2014. (WWI Centennial Commission)
  • Construction on the new Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora, Colorado should be completed by early 2018. VA Acquisition, Logistics and Construction Director Greg Giddens tells Federal News Radio that building will get done in phases. And some buildings will be finished before then. The Army Corps of Engineers took over hospital construction after the project fell years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.
  • Eric Fanning’s nomination to be the next Army secretary still faces a hurdle. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is standing firm on a hold he placed on the nomination last fall. A Roberts spokesman told Army Times that Roberts wants a guarantee from the Obama administration that detainees from Guantanamo Bay will not be transferred to the Army Prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The facility was one of several under consideration for relocating the prisoners. (Army Times)
  • The Army will start offering a graduate-level certificate program in cybersecurity starting Feb. 10. The offer is open to all Aberdeen Proving Ground engineers and scientists, including contractors and military personnel. The University of Delaware at the University Center in Aberdeen, Maryland, will offer the classes. This is the third cybersecurity education initiative from the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC. (Army)
  • Leidos and Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions unit are merging to create the largest IT services government contractor. The companies announced the $5 billion deal Tuesday with about $2 billion in cash going to Lockheed and the rest in Leidos stock to shareholders. Lockheed’s newly separated IS & GS division has about $5 billion in sales and more than 16,000 employees internationally. Leidos also has about $5 billion dollars in sales and will see the number of employees nearly double. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force certifies the latest version of California-based SpaceX’s launch system as good enough to put national security systems into orbit. The nod to Elon Musk’s corporation came one day before a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the topic of competition in space launch. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall are both scheduled to testify. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee chairman has been a vociferous critic of what he’s called a monopoly in space launch by the United Launch Alliance, and that consortium’s partial reliance on rocket engines imported from Russia.

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