Monday federal headlines – September 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • 40,000 employees across 23 agencies will have to wait a few extra days to get paid. The Interior Business Center, which is one of four federal payroll providers, tells employees at mainly medium and small agencies ranging from the Artic Research Commission to the Security and Exchange Commission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they will get paid Tuesday instead of last Friday. Interior finally put out a release late last week saying there was an error related to the Electronic Funds Transfer date in the file sent to the Treasury Department. IBC says it will resume normal processing next pay period. (Federal News Radio)
  • Social Security paid disability insurance to 30,000 people who had jobs. The payments took place over a two-year period ending January 2013. The Government Accountability Office says the payments amounted to $1.3 billion. Both GAO and Social Security say the numbers amount to less than 1 percent of beneficiaries, and of dollars. But the GAO says the potential improper payments indicate weaknesses in Social Security’s procedures for policing the disability system. A Social Security spokesman says the agency will investigate potential fraud cases and turn them over to its inspector general. (Associated Press)
  • A company that helps people enroll in Medicaid is returning a federal grant to help sign up people for health care insurance. Cardon Outreach says it won’t be able to use the $800,000. It cites controversy over the so-called Navigator program under the Affordable Care Act. Cardon’s chief counsel says state and federal scrutiny cause too much of a distraction. The company, based in Texas, had planned to hire people in four states to explain the intricacies of the health care exchanges. Cardon is one of 100 non-profits receiving $67 million in grants from Health and Human Services to become Navigators. (Associated Press)
  • Big changes are coming to who runs the technology side of the Homeland Security Department. Government sources say Luke McCormack is expected to be named the new chief information officer at DHS. McCormack will come over from the Justice Department where he spent the last 18 months as its CIO. Previously, McCormack was CIO of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement directorate at DHS. Along with McCormack, FEMA is getting a new technology chief. Government and industry sources confirm Adrian Gardner will move to FEMA to be its CIO. Gardner spent the last two-plus years as the CIO of NASA Goddard Space Center. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration won the last remaining protest of the solicitation for OASIS, the multi-billion dollar contract for professional services. But the victory likely will be short- lived. GSA’s bid protest official Maria Swaby denied the claim made by Aljucar, Anvil-Incus over the terms of joint venture agreements in the OASIS request for proposals. Swaby says the agency’s reason for limiting joint ventures is reasonable. The company says it plans on filing another protest with the Government Accountability Office in the next 10 days. A&A-I filed its protest to the agency Aug. 8, claiming joint venture requirement in the RFP is unreasonable because it restricts competition and doesn’t lets small businesses aggregate their past performance, a key factor in GSA’s evaluation of bids. (Federal News Radio)
  • The EPA is pitching in to help with a big spill in Honolulu Harbor. Two experts are there to aid the cleanup. Only it’s not crude oil that escaped into the water. It’s molasses — 1,400 tons of it. Cleanup crews have already collected 2,000 dead fish. A corroded valve in an offloading facility caused the spill. Matson Navigation Company took responsibility for it. On Sunday, local TV stations reported the sugar was starting to dissipate. (Associated Press)
  • Federal engineers are getting new job qualification standards. The Office of Personnel Management releases a new draft job standard for those in the 0800 job series. OPM says agencies need more flexibility to compete for workers with science, technology, engineering and math degrees. As part of the draft revision, OPM added Engineering Technology bachelor’s degrees, accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (or ABET), as qualifying for professional engineering occupations. OPM also wants agencies to answer three questions about the type of engineering occupations, whether you have enough qualified candidates and whether you currently hire engineers with bachelor degrees. (OPM)
  • NASA is recalibrating its goal of having at least 20 percent of all employees use their smart identification cards to log onto its computer network. New chief information officer Larry Sweet tells the Office of Management and Budget the space agency would reach 10 percent by Sept. 30, and 20 percent by Dec. 31 and 50 percent by the end of fiscal 2014. NASA original goal was to have 20 percent of all employees logging on to its network using their Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 cards by Sept. 30. (Federal News Radio)
  • Microsoft acknowledged it has rewritten four of its security updates, three days after issuing them. Enterprise customers had complained that the updates caused repeated demands for installation, even after the users had installed them. Computerworld reports, it’s the latest problem in an ongoing string of quality issues with Microsoft security updates. Buggy updates in April and August blocked server access and crippled Windows 7 PCs. In a blog, Microsoft says it found the cause of the installation demand problem and re- issued the updates. (ComputerWorld)
  • The recent details about the National Security Agency’s ability to crack computer software encryption is causing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to relook at its encryption standards. NIST announced last week it is reopening the public comment period for Special Publication 800-90-A and draft Special Publications 800-90-B and 800-90-C. The special publications cover everything from random number generation to random bit generations. NIST says it’s interested in public review and comment to ensure that the recommendations are accurate and provide the strongest cryptographic recommendations possible. The public comments will close on Nov. 6, 2013. (NIST)