Hackers steal hundreds of government credit card numbers

To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe on PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari. 

  • The Defense Department said malicious hackers have managed to steal credit card numbers of several hundred people who have been issued government travel cards. The hack was first reported by CNBC, which said DoD financial services provider Citibank had reported the criminal organization  tried more than a million possible credit card number combinations, and successfully guessed the account numbers belonging to more than 300 DoD employees. The bank and DoD said it appears a second level of security blocked the hackers from actually making any purchases with the cards, but it does appear that Defense employees were specifically targeted. (CNBC)
  • Political appointees at the State Department tried to fire career employees they thought did not support the president’s policies. An agency whistleblower provided two House Democrats with email records. Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) claim political staff described specific agency employees as leakers, troublemakers and turncoats. The lawmakers have requested interviews with some of the political staff members mentioned in the emails. (Federal News Radio)
  • Responding to complaints, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told a House panel that he’s negotiated a lower price for a set of doors in his agency office. Last week the Associated Press reported Interior was set to pay $139,000  for three sets of double doors. Zinke said the agency got the price down to $75,000 dollars, and a final contract hasn’t been signed yet. (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said he regrets the distractions from recent reports of internal turmoil between the VA and the White House. A forthcoming inspector general report said Shulkin misused his security detail to perform personal errands. Shulkin said he used his security detail in the same way as other cabinet secretaries. He said he’s focused on improving veterans health care.  Shulkin said  he’s not getting pressure from the White House to move VA in the direction of privatization, but there is pressure to fix the current system.
    (Federal News Radio)
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved several bills for improving transparency, and federal information gathering and preservation. One would provide Congress and the public with more information about the costs government mandates. Another calls for updated rules for preserving electronic messages. A third would require agencies to publish all guidance documents on their websites. And the last would have agencies solicit, report on and publish feedback from those affected by rules. (House Oversight Committee)
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed its transformation plan and initiated a 100-day transition period. A deputy director will lead the transformation in each of the areas. Topping the list: Increased integration and better collaboration. An interagency team researched ODNI’s strengths and weaknesses, to develop the new plan. (Office of the Director of National Intelligence)
  • This summer DHS will solve the cloud-cybersecurity challenge.  In the next few weeks, the Office of Management and Budget and the Homeland Security Department will announce a series of pilots to make it easier for agencies to move to the cloud and meet network security policy. OMB and DHS will test out a revised approach to the Trusted Internet Connection or TIC initiative. Under TIC, all network traffic from the public internet must come through a set of hardware and software capabilities to detect cyber threats. Many agencies complained the TIC approach caused traffic on their network to slow and made it more difficult to move to the cloud. The pilots will also help move away from the one size fits all approach to TIC.
  • The American Federation of Government Employees filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Federal Labor Relations Authority over the Education Department’s implementation of new bargaining terms. Education announced it would implement them after months of failed negotiations with AFGE, even though the union didn’t agree to them. The new terms include limitations on official time and AFGE’s use of the department’s office space and supplies. The new document doesn’t include the previous policies on telework and training that were included in the previous agreement. (Federal News Radio)
  • FDA’s move to regulate nicotine is partial fulfillment of an old quest.  Former commissioner David Kessler — back in the Clinton administration — first proposed having the FDA regulate tobacco. But that gambit never took hold. The current commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes. It’s part of a larger initiative rolled out last July to ultimately regulate tobacco. Congress gave FDA that authority in a 2009 law. (Food and Drug Administration)