Tuesday federal headlines – July 9, 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.

  • For the Defense Department, furlough Monday was a worldwide affair. The far-flung department forced civilian employees into the first of 11 days off without pay. Vermont had the fewest civilians on furlough, with about 490. The largest number are in Virginia, with nearly 72,000. Furloughed civilians in other countries range from a handful to several dozen. But in Germany, some 13,000 were on furlough. A scheduled pay raise for German civilians working for DoD has sparked a bit of jealousy. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to stop the pay hikes. She says 19,000 civilian employees in her state face furloughs. (Federal News Radio)
  • Lawmakers are looking to offset the impacts of sequestration within their own constituencies. Seventeen House members asked that the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science give the go-ahead to unlock funding from the Patent and Trademark Office. Lawmakers say PTO has $150 million in fees that companies pay for patent and trademark licensing. The committee says it’s unlikely it would allow lawmakers to unlock PTO funds because of legal constraints. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service accidentally exposed the Social Security numbers of tens of thousands of people. That’s according to an audit by Public.Resource.org, a transparency watchdog. NextGov reports, the numbers were only on the Internet for less than a day. They were connected to non-profit political groups called 527s. The numbers were mistakenly included in a database of tax-exempt status seekers, which the IRS routinely makes public. Public Resources founder, Carl Malamud, pointed out the mistake to the IRS, which scrubbed the database a day later. (Public.Resource.org/NextGov)
  • A $250 million contract sealed an educational partnership between the Defense Department and the University of Maryland University College. The university will offer undergraduate and graduate courses at military sites in Europe. UMUC and several other Maryland public universities are developing programs in teaching, social work and business for the first time. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama met with his mostly new cabinet and got down to brass tacks. He told members how he wants agencies to continue improving federal services, making the government more efficient and opening up federal data to the public. In remarks after the meeting, Obama said he’s asked new Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell to lead the effort. This is Burwell’s first major initiative since taking over as director. Later in the day, Burwell held a meeting with agency deputy secretaries to start discussing the next steps in the revamped management agenda. Obama also renewed his call for Congress to let the president reorganize and consolidate executive branch agencies. (Federal News Radio)
  • Health and Human Services hired a British contractor to help it deal with applications coming in under the Affordable Care Act. The contract came just a few days before the Obama administration decided to delay implementation of much of the act for a year. GovExec reports, HHS awarded the contract to Serco, whose U.S. headquarters is in Reston. It will help the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services process millions of health care insurance applications from unenrolled Americans. CMS expects a third of the applications to come in on paper. Serco has worked for the Defense Department and the FAA. (GovExec)
  • The Senate’s plan to overhaul immigration policy would throw tens of billions of dollars at the Homeland Security Department. It would mandate a $7 billion system to check fingerprints of foreigners leaving the United States. And $7.5 billion for the 700-mile long fence. The Seattle Times reports, the bill would authorize $46 billion over 10 years on border security, mostly for contracted services and people. House Republicans, starting with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), oppose most of the bill. Even DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has said she doesn’t need much of what the bill would buy, including 20,000 new Border Patrol agents. (The Seattle Times)
  • Researchers detected Web monitoring devices made by U.S. company Blue Coat in Iran, Sudan and Syria. That’s according to new research from Toronto global affairs group Citizen Lab and a Washington Post report. Researchers say these devices apparently violate American sanctions that ban the sale of goods, services and technology sold to countries like Iran and Syria. The report found that Syria has more monitoring devices than researchers previously thought. It says Syrian president Bashar Assad most likely uses these tools to monitor communication between government rebels and journalists. (The Washington Post/Citizen Lab)
  • The Wall Street Journal reports Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Gary Gensler is trying to sell a compromise that would delay controversial cross border derivative rules. He originally refused to postpone requirements that forced foreign firms to agree to CFTC requirements if they trade risky derivatives with U.S. companies. The rule was originally set to go into effect Friday. Gensler faced complaints from lawmakers who say the CFTC and foreign governments weren’t working together to apply global derivative rules. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports the Customs and Border Protection has increased the number of drone missions for non CBP agencies eight-fold between 2010 and 2012. That’s according to new records from the CBP. Documents say CBP has used drones for missions on behalf of several state agencies and surveillance for FEMA, the Natural Resources department, the Land Management bureau and the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Another document says CBP has plans to add 14 more Predator drones and 24-7 surveillance by 2016. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)