Friday federal headlines – January 17, 2014

The 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 Newsc...

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.

  • When it came to cybersecurity, Health and Human Services put the cart before the horse. Officials tell members of the House Oversight Committee they didn’t think was tested enough for security before it launched in October. Teresa Fryer is the chief information security officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She tells lawmakers the site eventually passed security testing in late December. Fryer says she didn’t want the site to launch before testing. That sentiment was echoed by Frank Baitman, the chief information officer at HHS. He says repeated attempts to hack the have failed. (Associated Press)
  • The Secret Service has taken interest in a retail cybersecurity breach affecting up to 70 million people. It hired the cyber intelligence company iSight Partners to look into the attack that’s rocked retail giant Target. iSight says a piece of malware called KAPTOXA has potentially affected many retail point-of-sale systems. It says KAPTOXA appears to have Russian origins. The company says its researchers started noticing retail malware in the wild back in June. (Associated Press)
  • Two senators want to set national guidelines for notifying consumers about major data breaches. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) say their bill would force federal agencies, banks and retailers to do a better job of protecting personal and financial information. And should a severe breach occur, the agency or company would have to tell regulators, law enforcement and consumer reporting agencies. The lawmakers say today’s patchwork of state laws confuses consumers. (Senate)
  • The Senator known as “Dr. No” says he’ll resign after the current session of Congress. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will leave two years before his term is up. He was recently diagnosed with a recurrence of prostate cancer. Coburn had already vowed not to seek a third term. The Senator got his nickname for his constant battling against government waste and excessive spending. His annual Wastebook reports have become popular reading in Washington, D.C. As a physician, Coburn has practiced family medicine in Muskogee, Okla. (Associated Press)
  • Pentagon leaders are feeling less queasy now that a 2014 spending bill is headed to President Barack Obama. The bill gives the Defense Department greater stability and helps it maintain readiness. But it doesn’t solve other problems. The Congressional Budget Office suggests military retirees should pay more for their healthcare. It could save anywhere from $20 billion to $60 billion over a decade. But that’s an idea Congress repeatedly has rejected. The Defense Department spent $52 billion on health care for service members, retirees and their families in 2012. (Congressional Budget Office)
  • The Air Force has finished re-testing its nuclear missle launch crewmen following reports of cheating on earlier tests. 34 crewmen were suspended at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., when the cheating came to light. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby says nearly all remaining crewmen passed their tests. Testing was to cover 497 people. The Pentagon says Secretary Chuck Hagel has taken a keen interest in problems in the nuclear missile command. He’s said to be exploring whether new incentives to recruit and retain ICBM staff would help. (Defense Department)
  • Neil Armstrong’s memory will live on at a NASA center. President Barack Obama has signed a bill that renames a Southern California flight research facility after the late astronaut. There is a loser in the scenario. The center is now named after former NASA executive Hugh Dryden. As a consolation, the center’s test range will get Dryden’s name. Armstrong was a test pilot at the Mojave Desert facility before he walked on the moon. NASA says it’s developing a timeline for the name change. (NASA)
  • President Barack Obama is expected to back modest changes to NSA surveillance when he gives a speech at the Justice Department this morning. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the President believes surveillance should be more transparent to give the public more confidence. Obama will call for changes but leave the specifics up to Congress. Lawmakers are at odds on the issue, with intelligence committee members defending the National Security Agency’s programs and judiciary committee members wanting more changes. Regardless, it appears the NSA will continue gathering phone records. (Associated Press)

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