Monday federal headlines – July 15, 2013

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

  • New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is the first name to emerge as a possible successor to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Kelly’s name was proffered by New York Senator Chuck Schumer. Over the weekend other names emerged as well. Those include former Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, former California Congresswoman Jane Harman, former DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and former Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, according to National Journal. Napolitano said Friday she will leave in September to become president of the University of California. (National Journal)
  • Secretary Janet Napolitano’s departure from the Homeland Security Department will create the biggest of many holes in the agency’s leadership. Fifteen, or one third, of its top positions are either vacant or held by acting officials. Napolitano’s chief of staff and the director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are leaving this month. Acting leaders are in place for the deputy secretary, general counsel, and head of Customs and Border Protection, as well as for the privacy, legislative affairs and intelligence and analysis offices. (Associated Press)
  • The State Department is not the only one that paid to boost its likes on Facebook. Veterans Affairs spent about $2 million on Facebook advertising to lure new followers. Much of the spending went for VA’s “Make the Connection” page, according to NextGov. The page, maintained by the Veterans Health Administration, tries to reach veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. It has more than 1.6 million likes, compared with 300,000 likes for VA’s main page and 78,000 likes for the VHA main page. (NextGov)
  • It’s no secret the Defense Department often pays more than planned for weapons systems. Now a detailed review going back 20 years shows exactly how much. The majority of platforms exceeded their budgets by 30 percent, according to Defense News. Frank Kendall, the undersecretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, tells Defense News that he would be happy to get that figure down to 20 or 10 percent, and he would like to skip projects that overrun budgets by 200 or 400 percent. The analysis shows Raytheon had the lowest cost growth of the five top prime contractors. Kendall plans to update the report annually and release it each spring. (Defense News)
  • The Office of Personnel Management wants to create a database of federal cybersecurity positions. Officials hope it will help agencies identify gaps in their technology staffs. A memo from acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan directs agency managers to submit data about openings by Sept. 30. The homework assignments mean managers must also update their cybersecurity job openings with new definitions. Kaplan says the new descriptions should conform to those found in the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, established by the Commerce Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • Edward Snowden has detailed blueprints of exactly how the National Security Agency works. If leaked, they would expose sensitive internal operations. But Snowden has encrypted the documents so they are not released, according to Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian reporter who is close to Snowden. Greenwald was the recipient of the first leak by Snowden about the NSA’s surveillance activities. Greenwald says that Snowden has instituted measures that would trigger release of the documents should Snowden be killed by U.S. authorities. (Associated Press)
  • The Justice Department has new guidelines for how it investigates national security leaks to journalists.The government must warn reporters before issuing subpoenas for their phone records. It also promises not to issue a search warrant for reporters’ email unless the reporter is suspected of crime. The announcement comes nearly two months after revelations that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed telephone records of journalists with the Associated Press and Fox News. President Barack Obama had ordered the department to review its guidelines. (Associated Press)
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for tougher global rules on data protection following news of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. She says Germany is taking a very strict position in European Union talks over data security. It wants companies like Google and Facebook to reveal with whom they share data. Her comments come two days after Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden hosted German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich. Friedrich walked out of that meeting saying he was satisfied that NSA’s PRISM program searched in a “very targeted” way for terrorism-related information. (Associated Press)
  • Veterans Affairs has announced $300 million in new grants to help homeless veterans. The amount is triple that which the department provided last year through its Supportive Services for Veteran Families grant program. VA says the money will serve 120,000 vets who are either homeless or at risk of losing their homes. It is trying to end veterans homelessness by 2015. Earlier this year, Secretary Eric Shinseki told advocates for the homeless that the toughest, most difficult cases are still to be solved. (Veterans Affairs)
  • If your office has summer interns, pay attention to what they’re doing. A goofy action by an intern has left egg on the face of the the National Transportation Safety Board. A California television station obtained four names of the Asiana Airlines pilots involved in last week’s crash in San Francisco. An NTSB intern confirmed the names when contacted by the station, and KTVU then broadcast them. The trouble is, the names were fake and, worse, contained racial and sexual slurs. The board apologized, saying the intern violated policy. KTVU did not say where it got the names in the first place. (National Transportation Safety Board)
  • The military is trying to prove it has zero tolerance for sexual assault. Every branch is trying to crack down on alcohol use, which is deemed to be a major factor. Naval officers now do nightly patrols of bases, checking for heavy drinking or reckless behavior. The Army has a 9 p.m. curfew for soldiers under age 22. Last month, thousands of service members role-played scenarios and watched explicit videos of rape scenes as part of a training program. Some troops grumble — the military’s approach is too simplistic; it treats all soldiers as criminals. (Associated Press)
  • Senators have scheduled a private meeting today to seek a compromise out of public view on seven presidential nominees. In public, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has revived talks of changing filibuster rules in a nuclear option. That would let the Senate confirm appointees with a majority of votes, rather than two-thirds. The seven nominees now in limbo include Labor Secretary pick Thomas Perez, EPA choice Gina McCarthy, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray and Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg. The other three would fill empty positions on the National Labor Relations Board. (Associated Press)