Federal Drive Interviews — Nov. 12, 2012

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Col. Jeremy Martincommandant, Defense Information School


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Fifteen members of foreign militaries are returning to their home countries this month with new public relations skills courtesy of the Defense Department. They graduated last week from a Defense Information School course on public affairs. School leaders say the course helps the Defense Department by getting foreign partners on the same page when it comes to publicizing information.

Merry KornCEO, Pearl Interactive Network

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The ranks of service disabled veterans are on the rise. As they come back into mainstream American life, vets need jobs. The federal government has a hiring policy to favor service disabled veterans, but that’s not making a big dent. One small company has a new approach to helping disabled veterans find good work while accommodating the disabilities they may have.

J. David Coxnational president, American Federation of Government Employees

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Transportation Security Administration workers made history when they voted to ratify the agency’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement. J. David Cox, the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, provides insight on this historic agreement.

Tom Kilgannonpresident, Freedom Alliance

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The Defense Department, the White House and other agencies are trying to help veterans transition from the military to civilian life. And there are hundreds of outside groups tackling the same issue. One of them is the Freedom Alliance. It was founded by Oliver North, the retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. It does policy analysis, runs transition programs for departing service members and offers a way for their children to go to college.


DoD Report

  • Lockheed Martin directors elected Marilyn Hewson to become the next CEO, effective Jan. 1. Hewson is currently chief operating officer at the largest defense contractor. On Friday, Lockheed fired Christopher Kubasik, who had been slated to become the next CEO. But a whistleblower outed Kubasik for having had a romantic relationship with a subordinate. That was a violation of Lockheed’s code of ethics. Chairman and CEO Bob Stevens will become executive chairman, helping Hewson with the transition as she takes over the reins. Stevens called Hewson an exceptional leader with impeccable credentials. Hewson won’t be the only female running a major defense contractor. Also Jan. 1, Phebe Novakovic becomes CEO of General Dynamics.
  • The Air Force is considering tougher requirements for basic-training instructors at Lackland Air Base. San Antonio Express News reports the service would no longer let staff sergeants train recruits. Teachers would have to have at least one more stripe and the rank of technical sergeant. The proposal is a reaction to a sex scandal that involves two dozen instructors. They’re accused of harassing, abusing and even raping nearly 50 female students. The proposal comes from the command that is investigating the scandal. A spokesperson cautions that it’s just one of several recommendations and there are still a lot of moving pieces right now.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department may be making costly mistakes as it tackles an increasing backlog of veterans’ disability claims. The Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed the department’s performance data. It found errors in a third of the cases. That increases the number of vets who file appeals and wait much longer for their answers. The center found veterans who appeal the VA’s decisions wait an average of 3-1/2 years for benefits. But they usually emerge victorious. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals found errors in 70 percent of the cases it heard in 2011.

Cybersecurity Update

  • Cisco is warning operators of its IronPort Web security appliances, they might be vulnerable. The devices come with Sophos antivirus software pre-loaded. Cisco is telling customers, it has discovered flaws in the Sophos antivirus engine that might let hackers gain control of the system and cause a denial of service attack. Cisco said it will collect patches as they are issued by Sophos and shoot them to customer devices online. Cisco is also offering 30-day trial licenses for McAfee AntiVirus for IronPort customers who want to try an alternative to Sophos.
  • New details are emerging about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s failure to take cybersecurity precautions. Reuters reports a Trading and Markets office had spent more than $1 million on devices, including many that were not needed. The office urged the SEC to buy Apple products like iPads. Staffers used them for fun like watching movies and listening to music. That’s detailed in a report by the agency’s inspector general. It accuses four employees of failing to encrypt sensitive data in violation of SEC policy. The agency was lucky however. Investigators found no evidence that hackers had accessed SEC data. Two of the workers have left the agency.