Wednesday federal headlines – September 4, 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.

  • The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund is forced to suspend new furlough-related loans to civilians feds. Several companies and individuals made donations last week but it wasn’t enough to cover the more than $235,000 in loan applications in August. Employees who have recently submitted applications for furlough loans will receive an email from FEEA explaining the current situation. FEEA Board President Bob Tobias says he remains hopeful that new donations and sponsorships will allow the charity to continue to help needy federal families and says if corporations are interested in becoming FEEA sponsors, contact Robyn Kehoe at (Federal News Radio)
  • Your Thrift Savings Plan funds couldn’t buck the August trend. Most took a plunge last month. With the exception of the government-securities G Fund, they all finished August in negative territory. The G Fund rose slightly, only .2 percent. The C Fund fell the most, nearly 3 percent. It tracks the Standard and Poor 500 Index, which also fell in August. The C, I, and all five L funds dropped. For the calendar year, stocks are still up, across the board. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service is handing out 175,000 mobile phones to its field employees. They’ll use them to upload data from scanners that record time and location of deliveries. Federal Times reports, uploading from the field means route workers will no longer have to return to a postal facility to transfer the scanner data. John Edgar is Postal’s vice president of information technology. He says the the scanners will communicate with the phones using blue-tooth radio technology. He says he expects the phones to be fully deployed by the end of this month. (Federal Times)
  • The Defense Department’s hopes of having a full budget audit in 2014 have taken a detour. Instead, DoD will audit the smaller schedule of budgetary authority. Federal Times reports, that covers about 77 percent of funds, but not prior year appropriations. Navy Commander William Urban says outside auditors and the Government Accountability Office agreed to the less ambitious plan. He says the department is still committed to having all of its books audit-ready by 2017. Back in 2011, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had promised an auditable statement of budgetary resources by next year. (Federal Times)
  • Same-sex military couples started applying for spousal benefits, but hit snags in two states. The Texas National Guard refused to process requests, despite a Pentagon directive to do so. Mississippi would not issue applications from state-owned offices. Officials in both states cited their respective bans on gay marriage. The Pentagon earlier said it would recognize same-sex marriages for purposes of benefits, as long as the marriage occurred in a state that has legalized it. The commander of the Texas National Guard says it won’t deny anyone benefits. Mississippi National Guard officials say they’ll process applications filled out in federal facilities. (Associated Press)
  • Improved federal state and local collaboration and information sharing has reached it’s highest level since 9/11, according to the Information Sharing Environment Annual Report to Congress. The response to the Boston Marathon bombing in April demonstrated the improvement in preparedness training, multi-jurisdictional partnerships and fusion center technology. ISE’s annual report highlights progress toward the goals of the National Strategy. Agencies still need to improve the safeguarding of classified information within their classified networks. The report outlines the specific vulnerabilities with regards to removable media, Insider Threat Programs. (Information Sharing Environment)
  • The Annual Combined Federal Campaign is now underway. Federal employees have the opportunity to donate to over 150 national and international charitable campaigns. Each year the CFC raises millions of dollars as the world’s largest and most successful workplace charity movement. Federal employees can contribute to the fight against hunger, fund education, defend animal rights or choose from among 4,000 other causes between now and Dec. 15. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • The latest secret documents from leaker Edward Snowden detail al-Qaida attempts to neutralize U.S. unmanned aircraft. The drones have killed some 3,000 people. The Washington Post reports, intelligence officials have watched since 2010 as al-Qaida tried to shoot down, jam or hijack the drones. So far, they’ve had no success. U.S. drone strikes have decimated al-Qaida and curtailed movement of its members. The Post didn’t publish details about the cyber weaknesses in various models of aircraft. Members of the intelligence community have been posting them since 2006, according to the documents. (Washington Post)
  • Acting Director for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office gets a promotion. President Barack Obama recently announced his intent to appoint Huban Gowadia as the agency’s director. Gowadai has been the acting Director for DNDO since June 2012. (White House)