Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – January 18th

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Nearly one-third of recently retired federal employees are seeing a boost in their interim annuity payments. The Office of Personnel Management says it increased the payments for those retirees waiting for their full pensions to kick in – after a Federal Times article last month detailed complications with the process. Federal Times reports about 36,000 recent retirees are now receiving interim annuities, which are sometimes as low as half of what they are owed. It can take several months before OPM calculates the correct amount and starts issuing pension payments.
  • Federal News Radio told you yesterday about a hack at the PenFed credit union. Still no word on the full extent of the breach. CollectionsCreditRisk.com is reporting that the attack was discovered in mid-December, and that a few hundred to maybe a few thousand members were affected. PenFed’s database was accessed by a malware-infested PC. The database includes names, addresses, social security numbers and credit card numbers. No PINs or passwords were accessed. PenFed is reissuing new credit and debit cards to affected members.
  • Demand for H1-B visas are way up, exceeding the cap over the past five years. But the GAO has found that most of the approvals go to a very small number of companies. A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that less than one percent of the total number of companies that want to hire H-1B workers got more than 25-percent of all the approvals. GAO investigators say that Homeland Security and Labor should take steps to improve flexibility, accountability and oversight of the H-1B program. DHS disagreed with GAO’s findings, and Labor didn’t respond.
  • NASA has announced a new IT security chief. Valarie Burkes will take that job. She comes to the space agency from the agriculture department, where she has been the associate CIO for cyber policy and oversight. Burkes will replace Jerry Davis at NASA, who left last year to lead IT security at Veterans Affairs.
  • One of the nation’s largest banks admits it overcharged thousands of military families on their mortgages, including service members fighting in Afghanistan. JP Morgan Chase says it also improperly foreclosed on more than a dozen of those families. The admission comes after a lawsuit filed by a Marine Captain. NBC News reports the bank did not comply with the Service Member Civil Relief Act, which guarantees active duty military a fixed interest rate and foreclosure protection. JP Morgan Chase says it will refund over $2 million this week and is working to get families back into their homes.
  • The Interior Department will says it will not fight the reinstatement of former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers. Sources tell our sister station WTOP that Interior and Chambers have set up a meeting for today, to discuss her return to the job. Chambers was fired in 2004, after speaking to the press about funding and staffing concerns. But the Merit Systems Protection Board has ruled that she be allowed to take her job back.

More news links

Internet ‘Kill Switch’ Could Cause Chaos (PCWorld)

S.Korea civil servants to don thermal underwear (AFP)


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** What do government contractors think about the business of government? We’ll have details on a just released survey tapping the assessment of government contractors on issues like resolving contracting issues and bid protests.

** And an update on your Thrift Savings Plan with Tom Trabucco of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board…

Join Chris from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.