Tuesday federal headlines – October 22, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Federal workers are taking jabs at each other over the shutdown. Some of those deemed excepted and required to work during the 16-day hiatus are envious of their furloughed colleagues, who now got a two-week paid vacation. There’s one more thing to be envious about: Some states are telling federal employees who collected unemployment: don’t worry about paying it back. Labor Department officials tell the Federal Times, employees in those states can keep the benefits and the back pay they’ll receive this week. (Federal Times)
  • For those of you with twitchy fingers, you can now manage your retirement savings on your smartphone. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has released a mobile version of TSP.gov. It employs responsive web design, meaning you don’t have to squint to see the entire web page on your phone. It lets participants get information and conduct transactions. The board says 60,000 people logged on from their phones over the past week. (TSP)
  • The Smithsonian Institution may have to furlough workers or shorten museum hours under budget cuts scheduled for January. The next round of sequestration would strip $65 million from the agency’s bottom line. Secretary Wayne Clough says the Smithsonian can no longer absorb the cuts as it did this year. Clough addressed the Smithsonian Board of Regents yesterday. He says the agency lost $4 million in revenue during the shutdown. Museums and the Zoo were closed and missed out on retail sales, concessions and events. The Board announced it had formed a search committee to identify a replacement for Clough, who is retiring next year. (Associated Press)
  • A Republican senator has blocked one of President Barack Obama’s picks to help lead the Energy Department. Louisiana’s David Vitter is taking issue with undersecretary nominee Beth Robinson, now NASA’s chief financial officer. Vitter accuses Robinson of delaying contracts to build rocket components in New Orleans and mismanaging the space agency’s funds. Vitter says NASA employees have told him that their bosses use private email accounts to conduct official business. He does not accuse Robinson of doing that, but he demands answers to nine questions about the policy. A confirmation had been scheduled earlier this month but was postponed because of the shutdown. (Senate)
  • The Navy has barred a long-time defense contractor over a bribery case and terminated $205 million worth of contracts. Reuters reports, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia was the Navy’s main husbanding agent in that part of the world. Federal prosecutors have charged a Navy commander and Naval criminal investigator in the scheme as well. They say the two men conspired with GDMA to gain millions in international port contracts. Prosecutors say the company CEO bribed Commander Michael Misiewicz of Northern Command and Naval Criminal Investigative Services Agent John Beliveau, paying for trips, prostitutes and Lady Gaga tickets. In exchange, they allegedly gave him information that let him overcharge on the contracts. Another Navy captain has been relieved of duty but not charged with a crime. (Reuters)
  • The major credit bureau Experian has sold sensitive consumer data to an identity theft service. That’s according to a lengthy investigation by security reporter Brian Krebs. Members of a Vietnamese identity theft group posed as a U.S. private investigator. They tricked Experian into selling them social security numbers, birthdays and financial information on millions of Americans. The group then resold this information to underground cyber crime sites, like SuperGet.info. (KrebsOnSecurity)