Friday federal headlines – October 25, 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.

  • A powerful GOP lawmaker says the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is so good that all Americans should be able to enjoy it. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has introduced a bill to let anyone get health insurance through the FEHBP. While not referring to the Affordable Care Act, Issa says the federal employees plan offers an easy consumer experience and lots of options. Expert Walt Francis tells Federal News Radio the concept is an old one. Putting it in action might be complicated. Some insurers might pull out. The National Treasury Employees Union opposes the idea. It says federal employees and retirees would end up subsidizing other Americans’ health care costs. (Federal News Radio)
  • The snafus of have pitted an agency against its contractors. Representatives of CGI Federal and QSSI testified in Congress yesterday. The two companies developed key parts of the site. They say there wasn’t enough testing before the health-insurance exchange website went live. Who’s fault is that? They pointed fingers at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, which is overseeing the project. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defended her department and the website before a crowd in Arizona. She dismissed the calls for her resignation, saying the people making them never wanted the program to succeed in the first place. Both she and the contractors say they are resolving the long delays and technical problems. Sebelius says 700,000 people have applied for insurance so far. (Federal News Radio)
  • How much did the government shutdown cost? Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is asking the Government Accountability Office to find out. He wants auditors to tally the impact on the federal workforce, agency operations and services, state and local governments, contractors and other businesses, as well as lost tax and fee revenue. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the 27 day shutdown of 1995-1996 cost more than $1.4 billion. Warner says he believes this month’s partial closure was much more expensive. District officials already know how much the shutdown cost their city. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi and the mayor’s budget director will go into detail at today’s city council meeting. The city was barred from spending its local tax dollars during the 16-day shutdown. It spent emergency funds instead. (Senate)
  • The Office of Personnel Management has extended the Combined Federal Campaign for another month. It will go until Jan. 15. Acting Agency Director Elaine Kaplan says many CFC events were canceled or postponed during the shutdown. Federal employees were also nervous about their own financial situations. In a memo, Kaplan says all federal employees should give to the causes they support most passionately. (OPM)
  • The suspected National Guardsman and gunman is in custody after a shooting wounded two at a National Guard facility near the Naval Support Activity in Millington, Tenn. A major and a sergeant major both have non-life threatening injuries and are expected to leave the hospital soon. Both have served overseas. Tennessee Guard Maj. Gen. Max Haston says the suspect has been in the Guard for six or seven years. He says all three men involved are recruiters. (Navy)
  • European leaders demanded the truth at an EU summit meeting in Brussels as reports of possible U.S. spying on allies continue. The British newspaper The Guardian reports the NSA has monitored the communication of 35 world leaders since 2006. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had stern words for the U.S. She says Germany and other European allies now need to rebuild trust with the U.S. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says France and Germany are planning talks by the end of the year with the U.S. to discuss its national intelligence activities. (Associated Press)
  • Justice Department Chief Information Officer Luke McCormack is heading back to the Homeland Security Department to serve as CIO. He replaces Richard Spires, who left the position in May. President Barack Obama announced his decision to appoint McCormack last night. McCormack previously served as CIO for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and acting director for Customs and Border Patrol’s Infrastructure Services Division. He’s also expected to continue his role leading the information security and identity management committee at the federal CIO Council. (Federal News Radio)
  • In a sign of the times, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is doing away with the road maps for the seas. It has made large nautical charts for sailors since President Thomas Jefferson asked for a survey of the coast in 1807. Come April, it will stop producing them. NOAA says it can’t justify the cost now. Not enough people want to buy them. Most non-government customers use PDFs or electronic charts nowadays. (NOAA)