Monday morning federal headlines – August 22

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The stampede for Social Security disability benefits has put an unprecedented strain on the system. Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago and new Congressional estimates say the trust fund that supports Social Security will run out of money by 2017. The trustees who oversee Social Security are urging Congress to shore up the disability system by reallocating money from the retirement program, just as lawmakers did in 1994. That, however, would provide only short-term relief at the expense of weakening the retirement program. Social Security Administrator Michael Astrue said this is a sign of economic desperation. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new framework for evaluating the government’s top Senior Executive Service managers is just a month away. The President’s Management Council said it wants to bring uniformity to the sometimes uneven and confusing way evaluations are done now. The group aims to complete the framework by the end of September so agencies can use it in the upcoming fiscal year. The Office of Personnel Management said agencies will fully implement the new system over the next two years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon inspector general is investigating the Defense Department’s top personnel chief over accusations of mismanagement and abuses of power, National Journal reports. Clifford Stanley is accused by at least four whistleblowers of firing senior staff, neglecting wounded troops programs and being wasteful with limited funds. Stanley is a retired two-star Marine Corps general. He’s been on the job since February 2010. A Pentagon spokesperson said they are aware of the complaints and they are being taken seriously. (National Journal)
  • Federal employees living in Northern Virginia and some parts of Maryland will be able to run for political office under a new proposed rule published in the Federal Register. The Office of Personnel Management’s new rule would partially exempt feds living in King George County from restrictions on political activity, allowing them to run as independent candidates for local political office. It would also allow those candidates to accept or receive political contributions, and solicit or accept volunteer campaign services. OPM said its considering the rule because of the rapid growth of the county within the past few years, the significant public issues associated with this growth, and the large federal presence within King George County. (Federal Register)
  • Another woman is suing Booz Allen Hamilton. Dr. Margo Fitzpatrick, a former Booz Allen partner who joined the company in 1999, said the company keeps women from high ranking positions by manipulating the evaluation and promotions system. She also claims senior male executives warned her that if she asked too many questions about the practice, she would be fired. Fitzpatrick said she was a successful executive at Booz Allen, recognized for her expertise and for winning more than $500,000 dollars in contracts in three years. But she said because of sex discrimination and retaliation, she was driven out of the company. This is the second major sex discrimination action filed against Booz Allen in the past month.
  • Hackers have a new, nifty little tool in their arsenal. Called “SpyEye,” USA Today reports that in the first six months of this year, the tool was used by dozens of online gangs, commanding more than two million infected computers nationwide. SpyEye normally sells for up to $10,000. But, as of last week, the latest, most powerful version of SpyEye could be acquired for just $95. The toolkit can issue commands to networks of thousands of bots to deliver spam scams, conduct hack attacks and booby-trap legitimate websites with infections that create more bots. (USA Today)
  • Standing in that airport security line is a drag. But Baltimore-Washington International Airport has the least amount of drag time of any airport in the nation, according to The Washington Business Journal. BWI-Marshall’s average security wait line time about five minutes, which ties with Boston’s Logan, Charlotte/Douglas, Philadelphia, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit Metropolitan airports. The longest wait time is 31 minutes at Dulles International Airport. (Washington Business Journal)