Tuesday federal headlines – July 2, 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.

  • Furloughs mean doing less with less. That’s the gist of Pentagon guidance to Defense agencies facing civilian employee furloughs. A new memo reminds agency managers they are barred from shifting work to military members or to contractors. And they’re not allowed to force civilians still on the job to work longer hours to compensate for their furloughed colleagues. In fact, those returning from furlough can’t be forced to work longer hours to make up for their unpaid time off. The first of 11 DoD furloughs is scheduled for Monday. (Federal News Radio)
  • Almost every Thrift Savings Plan fund, except for the government securities G-fund, ended the month of June in negative territory. That’s according to new data from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. It’s the first time since October that the C or S funds saw drops. The brutal declines haven’t been enough to erase gains the TSP has made so far this year. (Federal News Radio)
  • A nonpartisan government group is calling on President Barack Obama to fire the deputy inspector general at the Homeland Security Department. Complaints against Charles Edwards say he improperly placed his wife in a supervisor position, intimidated employees and misused company supplies. The group, A Cause for Action, sent a letter to Obama, according to Gov Exec. It says Edwards creates what some employees have called a toxic work environment. A Senate subcommittee is also looking into complaints against Edwards. (Gov Exec)
  • The U.S. Postal Service agreed to overhaul its procedures on electrical work after settling a dispute with the American Postal Workers Union and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA inspected postal facilities in 2009 and found that some workers were exposed to risk of electrical shock or burning when using equipment, according to APWU. The new settlement requires the postal service to retrain its employees who use electrical equipment, wear safety gloves while working, and meet regularly with OSHA and the APWU to discuss progress. (APWU)
  • The Office of Personnel Management acknowledged that it has some improvements to make in monitoring how each agency uses federal telework programs. That’s according to the latest Government Accountability Office report. It found OPM did not have sufficient ways of measuring agency telework data. It suggested OPM help agencies set specific goals and work with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council to improve the reliability of its data. OPM says it’s working on solutions to the report’s findings. (GAO)
  • The Defense Department wants to build out its cloud computing capabilities in a big way. According to a recent request for proposals on FedBizOpps, the Defense Information Contracting Office wants an Infrastructure-As-A-Service provider for cloud-based storage, virtual machines, database and web-hosting services. The one year, $450 million contract includes the possibility for extensions through 2017. (FedBizOpps.gov)
  • Contracts for clearing up federal nuclear waste are something of a mess themselves. A Senate panel heard tales of big cost overruns in the Office of Environmental Management at the Energy Department. Jack Surash, the deputy assistant secretary of acquisition and project management, told senators that cleanup projects in Hanford, Washington, and Savannah River, South Carolina, have been especially challenging. Contractors including Bechtel and Parsons Corporation say one problem is the ill-defined scope of the contracts. It’s a long-term problem. Energy estimates costs of $90 billion for the cleanups. And the work stretches ahead for decades. (Federal News Radio)
  • Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says he’s going to keep the pressure on China over cybersecurity. He’ll emphasize the suspected theft of intellectual property by hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government. Reuters reports Lew is trying to keep that issue separate from the infamous National Security Agency surveillance program made public by a leaker now hiding in Russia. Lew says he’s already brought up the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China. Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry host their Chinese counterparts in Washington next week. It’s the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. (Reuters)
  • The Obama Administration has missed a Congressional deadline for issuing rules on imported foods. That delay has been highlighted by an outbreak of Hepatitis-A. The Wall Street Journal reports the disease is linked to pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey. Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says the FDA isn’t sure what caused the contamination. The Food Safety Law was enacted in January 2011. In November of that year, FDA sent a proposed rule to the White House. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A string of close calls has prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to call for new air traffic control procedures. The FAA promises to consider the proposals and respond within 90 days. The NTSB notes five incidents of airliners nearly colliding, four of them last year. All occurred when one of the planes was aborting a landing and charging back into the air. The NTSB recommends FAA put more controllers on duty for the express purpose of watching for possible mid-air collisions. (Associated Press)
  • The Army’s Cybersecurity Directorate is making a big push to keep cybersecurity top of mind for the soldier at work. The Army is sponsoring its first cybersecurity awareness week in October. It’s also launching comics and YouTube videos about cybersecurity, and reminding soldiers to make cybersecurity part of their mission. Army CIO, Lt. General Susan Lawrence, says soldiers themselves are compromising Army networks and systems, according to Army Times. 80 percent of security infractions are caused by poor security practices, poor passwords, using thumb drives and going to sites the soldier shouldn’t be going to. (Army Times)
  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted today’s 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer military. He called the switch from the draft one of the most consequential and far-reaching changes in the history of America’s armed forces. Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, says skeptics were wrong about the all-volunteer force. It managed to help win the Cold War, reversed Iraqi aggression in the Persian Gulf region, and kept peace in the Balkans. But he says the armed forces will have to adapt and change to meet future challenges. (Defense Dept.)