Thursday federal headlines – October 17, 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.

  • The federal government is open and employees are expected to return to work this morning. OPM encourages agencies to use all available workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work including telework, work schedule flexibilities and excused absence for hardship situations. The federal government reopened after a 16-day shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of feds. The president signed legislation early Thursday morning that provides funding for back pay for furloughed feds and essential employees that worked during the shutdown. It funds federal agencies through Jan. 15 and extends the government’s borrowing limit through Feb. 7. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama has signed a measure into law reopening the federal government and averting a potential default. It ends the furloughs of federal workers immediately. And it provides backpay to both those who worked and those who didn’t. Excepted employees, who could not take vacation or sick leave during the past two weeks, may actually see a bump in their paychecks for working overtime. The Treasury Department had warned that, without a deal, the U.S. would reach the debt ceiling today. (Associated Press)
  • The 35-page law that reopens the federal government has extra cash for some agencies. It provides nearly $300 million for the Veterans Affairs Department to whittle down its backlog of disability claims. The Forest Service gets twice that amount for firefighting efforts. There’s extra money for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue work on two weather satellites. There is more money for contracts with private companies whose ships move American troops and their equipment overseas. And the bill also lets the Pentagon continue helping African forces pursue Joseph Kony. The leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army is accused of committing war crimes in Uganda. (Associated Press)
  • Now that the government shutdown is over, the Defense Department tries to get back to situation normal. Schools and commissaries resume normal operations and the National Guard and Army Reserve units can resume inactive and active duty training and all payroll responsibilities. All furloughed DoD employees and contractors return to work today. The government shutdown furloughed 350,000 DoD employees, most of whom were recalled back to work shortly after the shutdown started. DoD says one area not affected by the shutdown was military recruitment. (National Guard)
  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker is coming to Washington. The Democrat won a special election to fill New Jersey’s empty Senate seat. In his victory speech, Booker said he was coming to Washington not to play shallow politics, but to engage in the kind of hard, humble service that reaches out to others. He won’t have much time to do that. He is filling the remainder of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg’s term, which goes until next year. Then Booker will have to return to the campaign trail to run for a full six-year term. (Associated Press)
  • The National Security Agency isn’t just tracking data; it’s helping the CIA carry out lethal drone strikes abroad. The Washington Post has received more documents from former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden. The documents make clear that the CIA-operated drone campaign relies heavily on the NSA’s ability to vacuum up enormous quantities of email, phone calls and other fragments of signals intelligence. The Post says it is withholding many details about the drone-strike missions at the request of U.S. intelligence officials, citing potential damage to ongoing operations and national security. (Washington Post)
  • A new security advisory from Mocana includes update information for its Nano-Crypto embedded security engine. Leaked documentation from Edward Snowden reveals the algorithm could be exploited by the NSA. Earlier this month, NIST warned against using the previously approved standard until the full extent of its vulnerability is determined. (Mocana)
  • The future federal workforce is lax about cyber risks, according to a recent study conducted by defense contractor Raytheon. The study notes that high school students are not very interested in filling cybersecurity jobs, which are in increasing demand within the federal government. Milllennials’ online habits are more risky than other generations because of their use of public Wi-Fi networks and high social media engagement. According to the study, millennials are also more likely to share their passwords with people outside of their family. (Raytheon)
  • The USS San Antonio staged a dramatic rescue of 128 people clinging to a raft off the coast of Malta yesterday. The Navy says the San Antonio was 60 nautical miles away from the raft when it got word of the disaster. Crew members used two inflatable boats to transport all of the passengers to safety. Sailors provided food, water, medical attention and temporary shelter to all of the men. (Navy)

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