Monday federal headlines – October 28, 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.

  • Medicare Chief Marilyn Tavenner heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow to answer questions on Wednesday, it’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ turn before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The website had more hiccups this weekend. The federal data services hub went down. It had been working well. HHS says an outside contractor had a network failure that impacted lots of sites. The company is a subsidiary of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, which promised to fix the problem as soon as possible. (Associated Press)
  • The Navy says it is releasing weekly snapshots of sexual assault reports. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the chief of information, says it will deter future assaults, encourage victims to come forward and help the Navy serve them, and foster a command climate that holds offenders accountable. In the first snapshot, the week of Oct.13, the Navy received 21 complaints. It says the vast majority of alleged victims say they knew the offender. In 11 of the 21, both the victim and assailant were allegedly service members. (Navy)
  • The Marine Corps is not changing male dress uniforms. It says the president in no way, shape or form directed the Marine Corps to change its uniform cover. The service is looking for a new uniform for female Marines because the old manufacturer went out of business. The Corps released a statement after photos of male Marines in what some consider a more feminine white cap made the rounds on the Internet. The Corps says that photo came from a survey. The cap in question is called a “Dan Daly.” (Stars and Stripes)
  • In a first, the Justice Department plans to use information gathered under one of the government’s warrantless surveillance programs against an accused terrorist. It could set the stage for a Supreme Court test of the 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Civil liberties groups have tried to bring cases in the past but haven’t had evidence to show that any specific person was targeted. In court papers, the Justice Department says the FBI investigated Jamshid Muhtorov after his communications with an overseas administrator for a terrorist group’s website. (Associated Press)
  • The National Security Agency says its website was down for a bit over the weekend. The agency says the system encountered an internal error during a scheduled update. The NSA says the site was not hit with a denial-of-service attack, countering speculation on social media. (Associated Press)
  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, is hosting a multi-year competition for fully automatic network defense systems that can evaluate software and root out security threats. DARPA released rules for its cyber grand challenge last week. Applications will be due by June. The final event would be in 2016. The winning team receives $2 million in cash. (DARPA)
  • The National Park Service is reopening the Ellis Island Museum today. It had been closed since Superstorm Sandy hit a year ago. The storm submerged the island, destroying the electrical system and leaving it without power for months. Officials say the museum is still a work in progress. The water and sewage system are fixed. A new electrical system and air conditioning have yet to be installed. The Park Service says most of the museum collection is stored in a climate- controlled facility in Maryland. (Associated Press)
  • The Homeland Security Department has brought on two women from the private sector to monitor civil rights and privacy issues. Former American Bar Association Immigration Commission Director Megan Mack is leading the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Karen Neuman is heading the DHS Privacy Office. The role is mandated by law. Neuman will be responsible for evaluating everything the department does for possible privacy impacts. Neuman helped found a law firm, Saint Ledger-Roty, Neuman & Olson. She ran its privacy and data security practice. Neuman replaces Mary Ellen Callahan, who left more than a year ago. (DHS)