Monday federal headlines – October 14, 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 government begins its third week of shutdown. Still no agreement on Capitol Hill. Talks between the White House and House Republicans collapsed Friday. The focus moved to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talked over the weekend. Democrats open up a new front in the dispute. They want to end the sequester, which would reduce 2014 spending by $21 billion dollars from 2013 levels. President Obama meanwhile tells House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he’ll only sign a so-called clean continuing resolution bill, with no policy add-ons. (Associated Press)
  • The effects of the federal government’s partial shutdown are spreading. Federal courts are running out of money and could cease operations this week. Bloomberg reports, U.S. Index futures fell in Asian markets. The yen gained against the dollar. International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde says on television lack of trust in the U.S. Signature would mean massive disruption the world over. (Future Currency Forecast)
  • The government shutdown has turned even federal holidays on their heads. Defense Department workers have it best because of the Pay our Military Act. It has enabled most employees to come back to work. They’ll get the paid holiday. Elsewhere, essential employees still have to come to work with no guarantee of being paid. Those on furlough won’t get paid either, unless Congress passes a bill to restore it. (Federal News Radio)
  • With no end to the shutdown in sight, Georgetown University is offering a second round of free classes to federal workers. The first round filled up in a matter of days. Georgetown says the classes are designed with government workers in mind. Topics include leadership communication, the strategic process and project management skills. There’s one called “public sector leadership in challenging times.” Eligible furloughed employees can register for just one class. (Associated Press)
  • The prolonged government shutdown has claimed another victim. A Pentagon memo says the Combined Federal Campaign is now on hold. The memo cites Susan Yarwood, the human resources director with Washington Headquarters Services. Yarwood says that under Pay Our Military Act, passed just before the shutdown, the CFC is not an excepted activity. That means no fundraisers or training events. Military personnel and DoD civilians can continue to make contributions using payroll deductions. The CFC kicked off Sept. 5. Last year, federal employees contributed $285 million nationwide. (Defense Department)
  • The National Park Service has reopened the Statue of Liberty and other top attractions, after state officials agreed to pay for them. Other national parks remain closed due to the shutdown. Several saw protests this weekend. At Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania, police ticketed runners for parking in the park and otherwise violating the closure order. A Park Service spokesman says safety is a concern, given that most staff are furloughed. The park service has said that a hiker in Acadia National Park was seriously injured after violating a closure notice. The protesters at the more gentle Valley Forge contend they never see park rangers anyway. (Associated Press)
  • As the third week of the partial shutdown begins, an estimated half million employees remain on furlough. They’re economizing to save money and they’re volunteering to fill time. Others are catching up on home improvement or repair projects. An Army reserve staff sergeant locked out of Fort McCoy, Wis., went to Chicago to help patrol school road crossings. An FBI FOIA officer in Savannah, Ga., has several months of savings, but preserves it by having cereal for dinner. An IT specialist for the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency is spending time working at the Washington, D.C., charity So Others Might Eat. (Associated Press)
  • Thousands of people converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning and tore down the barricades blocking it off. They were protesting the closure of the memorial during the federal government shutdown. They had some high level help, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was there, too. The mob shouted, “Tear down this wall,” an allusion to President Ronald Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech. (WTOP)
  • Federal retirees should expect an itsy-bitsy raise in benefits come January. Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of about 1.5 percent. It will likely be one of the smallest on record since automatic increases in cost-of-living adjustments began in 1975. Consumer prices haven’t gone up much. The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won’t be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen last week. The shutdown has delayed it. The COLA impacts the disabled, veterans and social security beneficiaries too. (Associated Press)
  • Shutdown or not, the General Services Administration scored a small victory in the mops and brooms department. It got commitments from 11 agencies to use the forthcoming strategic sourcing initiative for janitor and sanitation supplies. Requests for proposals went out last week. Eight agencies agreed to use a second vehicle for maintenance, repair and operations. That will cover everything from tools and toolboxes to coatings and adhesives. GSA estimates, the government spends $1.7 billion annually on stuff covered by JanSan and MRO. (Federal News Radio)
  • Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden speaks to America in videos posted to the Wikileaks website. The videos are the first to show Snowden talking since he fled the country for Russia in July. Snowden says says NSA surveillance programs make people less safe, put them in conflict with the government, and hurt the economy. The clips show Snowden in an ornate room just after receiving an award in Moscow from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence. (Associated Press)
  • The Army Computer Crime Investigation Unit is warning people about mobile apps that let users access the myPay system. MyPay is operated by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Third party mobile apps aren’t sponsored by the Defense Department. The Army says the apps leave users vulnerable to identity theft and loss of their money. It cites an app called MyPay DFAS LES. Free on the Google Play app store, the application has been downloaded 15,000 times. The app lets the user change passwords, update security questions and review payroll information. (Air Force)