Wednesday federal headlines – January 6, 2016

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

A bipartisan group of nine lawmakers is worried that NASA is falling behind in its technology. In a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden,  legislators asked 16 questions about how the space agency is modernizing its IT. NASA must tell the House and Senate members about its top three mission critical IT systems that need to be modernized. It...

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

  • A bipartisan group of nine lawmakers is worried that NASA is falling behind in its technology. In a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden,  legislators asked 16 questions about how the space agency is modernizing its IT. NASA must tell the House and Senate members about its top three mission critical IT systems that need to be modernized. It also must tell lawmakers what are the oldest programming languages still in use and whether  NASA continue to support them. NASA has until Jan. 29 to respond. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The Food and Nutrition Service is issuing a proposed rule to ensure state agencies are not overusing their option to require pictures of household members on EBT cards to deny households access to the SNAP program. The rule would allow the USDA to prohibit state agencies from letting the photo EBT card requirements affect the eligibility process. (Federal Register)
  • The Air Force saw an increase in Class A mishaps in 2015. There were 19 Class A’s in fiscal 2015 up from 7 the year before. Though there were more mishaps, they resulted in fewer deaths. Only six people died compared to 10 in 2014. The Air Force’s Chief of Safety Maj. Gen. Andrew Mueller said a change in mishaps from one year to the next isn’t as significant as looking at the larger picture. (Air Force)
  • The Defense Department has received plans from each of the services for implementing plans to integrate women into all positions in the military, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said. The plans are being received by the office of the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.  Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, are chairing a group on implementing the decision, to ensure there are no unintended consequences on the joint force. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in December his decision to open all positions in the military to women, with no exceptions. (Defense Department)
  • The FBI will hire 230 new investigators to help meet a growing demand for the agency’s criminal background check system. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will hire 200 more law enforcement agencies to help enforce President Barack Obama’s new executive actions on gun violence reform. The FBI will also work with the U.S. Digital Service to overhaul the agency’s background check system. (Federal News Radio)
  •  In trying to carry out its executive order on gun control, the administration will run into an old problem right away. The problem is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. It’s been up and running since 1998, with a series of ongoing upgrades. It now is available 17 hours a day. But the IT dashboard, last updated in August, shows a major update has been slow and over budget since December 2014. It was supposed to go live last summer. (Federal News  Radio)
  • The Defense Department released a major consolidation of its service contract policy. The policy hopes to provide better oversight, authority and control over service contracts. Under the new rules, military acquisition chiefs will be able to approve service contracts worth more than one billion dollars. The policy also tries to integrate service expertise and DoD components’ needs. The Pentagon spends more than $150 billion per year on service contracts. (Federal News Radio)
  • Fewer federal employees retired in December. The Office of Personnel Management says more than 4,700 feds decided to leave government service last month. This was the lowest number of reitrees in a year. OPM also saw its backlog of pending retirement claims drop to its lowest level in a year.  About 11,400 retirees are waiting for OPM to process their cases. The agency says it’s processing about 78 percent of the claims within 60 days, down 5 percentage points over last year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Another Capitol Hill veteran is coming to the General Services Administration to run its Office of Governmentwide Policy. GSA said Troy Cribb is the new associate administrator of OGP. Cribb has spent the decade working in Congress, including the last several years as the main staff member for acquisition issues for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Cribb replaces Christine Harada, who left in November to lead the White House’s Office of Environmental Quality. (Federal News Radio)