Tuesday federal headlines – July 16, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Katherine Archuleta goes before a Senate panel today to explain why she should be the government’s human resources director. President Barack Obama has nominated Archuleta to lead the Office of Personnel Management. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vet her qualifications. Archuleta ran the president’s re-election campaign. She has served as chief of staff for several cabinet secretaries, including former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. (Federal News Radio)
  • A polling firm will pay millions to settle allegations that it overcharged the government. The Justice Department says the Gallup Organization will pay $10.5 million. That will resolve allegations that the organization inflated contract prices by overstating labor hours in contracts with the Mint and State Department. It also settles charges that Gallup worked with FEMA officials to obtain a subcontract at inflated prices. The overcharges came to light in a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit. Former Gallup official Michael Lindley will get nearly $2 million of the settlement. (Federal News Radio)
  • The losing team in a big Navy technology contract has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. The protest was filed by Computer Sciences Corporation, which led a team including Dell, General Dynamics, Harris, and Verizon. The Navy awarded the Next Generation Enterprise Network contract to a team led by Hewlett Packard in late June. It’s worth an estimated $3.5 billion. The GAO has 100 days to decide on the protest. Until it does, work on the contract stops. The NGEN contract replaces the Navy-Marine Corp Intranet, where HP is the incumbent. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama is directing agencies to make better use of volunteers. A new presidential memo sets up a task force of 18 agencies to explore how they can partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that runs AmeriCorps. It has helped FEMA and the Education Department set up similar programs in the past year. Former President George H.W. Bush joined Obama at the ceremony yesterday. Obama praised him for promoting volunteerism through the thousand points of light initiative. (The White House)
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is trying to drum up alarm over long-term budget cuts by going far outside the Beltway. He stopped in North Carolina yesterday to speak with troops and civilian employees at Fort Bragg. Hagel warned his audience that they could feel more pain next year, reported the Fayetteville Observer. He says uncertainty over funding is casting a dark cloud over the Defense Department. Employees complained that furloughs were affecting their household budgets. Troops said their units already were short on training supplies. (The Fayetteville Observer)
  • Health and Human Services has taken to YouTube to tell the world — it’s on schedule in rolling out the Affordable Care Act. The video starts by restating the case for the controversial law. It then shows a series of panels claiming on-time delivery of mandates, such as ending what it calls health insurer abuses. There’s no voice-over, only a series of captioned pictures set to music. The video was posted yesterday, two weeks after the Obama administration announced year-long delays to major provisions of the ACA, such as the employer mandate. (Health and Human Services)
  • The Air Force is back in the air. It has resumed operations of its Combat Air Forces, after stopping many of them in April because of sequestration. General Mike Hostage is commander of the Air Combat Command. He says that the Air Force flight training will use $208 million of $1.8 billion in reprogramming allowed by Congress. Thunderbirds aerial demonstration teams will also resume training, but air shows are still off the table for this fiscal year. Hostage says the stand-down caused a precipitous decline in combat readiness. He adds, the air operations dollars come at the expense of modernizing the fleet. (U.S. Air Force)
  • Internet users could learn more about the government’s data collection programs, thanks to Yahoo. The secret court that approves the government’s spy activities sided with Yahoo in its efforts to release information on a 5-year-old case. The government had sought Yahoo customer data back in 2008 through the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. Advocates for greater transparency called the ruling incremental. The government has two weeks to review which parts of the case can now be declassified. (Associated Press)
  • Gloves are coming off in the Senate, where members are bracing for a showdown over seven presidential nominees. Senators failed last night to come up with a last-minute compromise. Instead, Democrats today will press for the so-called nuclear option. They want to make it more difficult for a single senator to block a nomination through a filibuster. Votes today will show whether enough members are willing to change the rules so that a simple majority could confirm presidential nominees. It now takes two-thirds of the vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Republicans have threatened to filibuster more than 400 times in the past six years. (Associated Press)
  • Federal spending on cloud computing will grow slightly next year, but take off after that. A new study by IDG predicts agencies will choose privately-owned cloud facilities over government-owned ones. It says that next year, spending on private clouds will rise from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion, but spending on so-called community clouds will fall a bit. By 2017, IDG says federal cloud spending will hit $7.7 billion. (IDG Government Insights)
  • Federal IT managers have good reason to worry about the cybersecurity threat from mobile devices. That was underscored by a new threat report from McAfee and Juniper Networks. They report, the number of mobile malware apps jumped 614 percent in the last year. The companies say the majority of attacks are aimed at Android devices, the fastest-growing type of mobile device. Now more than 90 percent of mobile malware targets the Android OS. Juniper’s Mobile Threat Center reports more than a quarter million Android threats are in the wild. A Juniper statement says malware writers are behaving like profit-motivated businesses. (Juniper)