Friday federal headlines – October 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 government enters day four of the shutdown. President Obama cancels a trip to Asia, where he’d planned to attend an economic summit. Stock prices showed investors are selling as the shutdown drags on and Congress inches toward the debt ceiling deadline. A skeleton staff at the Bureau of Labor Statistics delays crucial employment data. A federal prosecutor in San Diego says scheduled a vote on legislation to ensure furloughed federal employees get paid when the government reopens. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.). Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is also a backer. In all, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act has 120 sponsors, including 18 Republicans. In the shutdown that ended in 1996, Congress ensured that furloughed employees received all their back pay. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Supreme Court says its business will go on despite the ongoing government shutdown. The Justices plan to hear their first arguments Monday, continuing to at least the end of next week. On its website, the court says its building will be open to the public during regular hours. The Court promises another update should the lapse in appropriations run beyond Oct. 11. A memo from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts says filing fees and long term appropriations would keep both staff and judges on the job and paid for two weeks. (Federal News Radio)
  • FEMA is recalling furloughed workers as the United States faces the first real threat of the hurricane season. Tropical Storm Karen is poised to hit the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend. It’s unclear how many FEMA employees are being brought back, but the White House says President Barack Obama has told his team to make sure there are enough staff and resources to respond to the storm. Meteorologists say when Karen hits, it will fall somewhere between a hurricane and a tropical storm bringing heavy rain. (Associated Press)
  • The National Transportation Safety Board is not sending investigators to Tennessee to look into a deadly auto crash. A church bus blew a tire, veered across the highway and hit a car and tractor-trailer. It’s the type of accident the agency would typically investigate, but nearly all NTSB employees are furloughed, including investigators. (Associated Press)
  • West Point is canceling some classes and combining others because of the shutdown. Military instructors are filling in for their civilian colleagues on furlough. Already, the furloughs of 132 faculty members is challenging the academy’s ability to provide quality education, a spokesman says. The shutdown is also affecting military academy sports. Football games will go on this weekend. The Navy plays Air Force, and the Army plays at Boston College. Those games are not funded by the government. The Navy says 19 other events are postponed or canceled this weekend, including men and women’s soccer games, swim meets and a women’s volleyball match. (Associated Press)
  • A retired FBI agent who ran the Boston office and once supervised all US criminal investigations has pleaded guilty to ethics charges. Kenneth Kaiser could pay $15,000 but spend no time in prison. He has admitted to trying to influence FBI agents who were investigating the private company he worked for after he left the Bureau in 2009. Ethics law requires senior executive-branch employees to wait at least a year after leaving the government before contacting former colleagues. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force Lieutenant Colonel whose sexual assault case sparked national outrage is retiring. Former Aviano Air Base Inspector General James Wilkerson is leaving, possibly at a lower rank, Air Force Times reports. A military court had found Wilkerson guilty of sexual assault, but his commander overturned the verdict. That led to calls that military leaders be stripped of their power to change convictions of service members. The Air Force had given Wilkerson a show-cause notice asking him to retire or make his case for staying in the military. (Air Force Times)
  • Adobe has issued a warning that cyber attackers managed to lift information on 2.9 million customers. Adobe says it lost names, encrypted credit card numbers and passwords. It’s offering free, one-year credit monitoring to affected individuals. Perhaps worse in the long run, Adobe says the cyber thieves obtained source code for numerous Adobe products. In a blog post, the company says it contacted the federal Computer Emergency Readiness Team. US CERT issued its own warning about the Adobe breach. (Adobe)
  • The shutdown is delaying a $6 billion governmentwide continuous monitoring system. A key contractor, McAfee, tells NextGov that the Obama administration was going to issue task orders this week, but it didn’t happen. The Homeland Security Department is paying for the cyber surveillance technology. It will let agencies choose among a vendor’s various threat sensors, displays and consulting services. (NextGov)
  • It has struggled to get the program back on time, but now the Joint Strike Fighter program office chief warns the partial shutdown could knock the F-35 fighter program off schedule. Defense News reports Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan hopes for a fast return of appropriations. Bogdan says the shutdown affects his team’s ability to conduct test flights. Furloughs at the Defense Contract Management Agency could result in production delays. DCMA has too few people on site to ensure timely oversight of the step-by-step process of building the prototypes. Lockheed says it will continue working on the F-35 until the government tells it to stop. (Defense News)