Tuesday federal headlines – September 17, 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.

  • The Washington Navy Yard will remain closed Tuesday except for mission-essential personnel. The Navy Department’s move follows yesterday’s shooting rampage in which a contractor employee killed 12 people. The shooter was identified as Aaron Alexis. He was shot dead by a U.S. Park Police officer and a D.C. Metropolitan police officer. Unit commanders will determine who is mission-essential. No vehicle traffic is allowed on or off the base today. Employees are urged to telecommute. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate is returning to normal operations today. The Sergeant at Arms says visitors will be welcomed back. It canceled activities and closed its doors to visitors yesterday out of an abundance of caution as police combed the area for suspects in the Navy Yard shooting. Only senators and staff were allowed to enter the buildings. The Senate is reopening because of evidence showing the dead suspect Aaron Alexis acted alone. Capitol Police will maintain a high level of protection. The House remained open yesterday. (Associated Press)
  • Five federal HR professionals have won this year’s Causey Awards. Named for Federal News Radio Senior Correspondent Mike Causey, the awards honor people who have done exceptional work in human resources. This year’s recipients are Phil Lenowitz, deputy director of HR at the National Institutes of Health, Ronald Loube, procurement analyst and acquisition career manager at the Food and Drug Administration, Francis McDonough, chief human capital officer of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, Lynn Simpson, senior advisor at National Defense University, and Reginald Wells, chief human capital officer at the Social Security Administration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service is sending early retirement offers to 15,000 employees who could lose their jobs or face reorganization. GovExec reports, eligible workers are getting letters this week. They are mostly managers, postmasters and supervisors. No cash payment comes with the offers, but employees can receive retirement pay early. They have until the end of November to accept and they have to be off the payroll by either the end of the year or the end of January. The National Association of Postal Supervisors says the Postal Service may resort to Reductions in Force early next year if necessary. (GovExec)
  • Sometimes, natural disasters are too much even for the National Guard. A mix of 51 Colorado Guardsmen, civilians and local responders, along with five pets, were stopped by rising waters in the town of Lyons. The waters were too deep for the Guard’s Light Medium Tactical Vehicles. But the weather in Boulder County broke. That let Army aviators from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson resume flight operations. Among their priority missions was to evacuate the people stranded in Lyons. They used two helicopters, but couldn’t quite rescue everyone from a high perch before the weather turned again. (Defense Department)
  • The General Services Administration has unloaded an historic lighthouse in Boston Harbor for a record sum. Local businessman David Waller is paying nearly $1 million for the historic property. GSA sold it through a public auction. Proceeds go to the Coast Guard to pay for the equipment, maintenance and resources like fog horns, lights and solar panels. The lighthouse was built in 1905. It looks out onto the Boston skyline, the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Waller tells the Boston Globe he may open an inn there. (GSA)
  • The National Security Agency may have vast surveillance capabilities, but it needs some help when it comes to cyber offensives. It bought a subscription to the zero-day service sold by the French security firm Vupen. NSA released details of the year-old contract after receiving a Freedom of Information Act request from MuckRock.com. Vupen claims it only sells its product to NATO government organizations. Its researchers claim to spot undisclosed cyber weaknesses and bypass all modern security protections. (MuckRock)
  • Belgium says cyber spies hacked into its main phone operator. The Belgian government put out a statement yesterday based on initial information. It says Belgacom found traces of a sophisticated intrusion that points to “strategic information gathering” rather than sabotage. Neither Belgium nor Belgacom has pointed fingers at any country. But the European Commission is suspicious of Washington. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden suggest the National Security Agency was eavesdropping on European Union institutions based in Brussels. The EC has asked for clarification and an explanation from the U.S. Government. (Associated Press)