Wednesday federal headlines – October 16, 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.

  • We’re officially into week three of the government shutdown. Some federal employees are getting used to ping-ponging between furloughed and non-furloughed status. In a statement, the Office of Management and Budget says agencies will be forced to adapt to changing circumstances as the shutdown drags on. That means some are recalling employees to deal with urgent issues and sending them packing once the crisis is over. The Housing and Urban Development Department says it has brought back up to 400 employees on a single day, some for just a couple of hours. The agency considers just more than 300 of its 8700 employees “essential.” (Associated Press)
  • Senate leaders say they can broker a last-minute deal to reopen the government and prevent a federal default. Aides say Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hope to shake hands on the agreement soon and hold votes later today. Chances for an end to the stalemate increased when a competing measure failed to gain traction in the House late yesterday. The Treasury Department has urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling by midnight. Meanwhile, the Fitch rating agency says it reviewing the government’s AAA credit rating for a possible downgrade. (Associated Press)
  • District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is meeting with local government leaders from the surrounding counties to discuss the impact of the federal shutdown. Gray will meet with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. Washington is running on emergency funds. The shutdown has prevented it from spending local tax dollars. Maryland and Virginia have been hit hard by furloughs to the federal workforce. (Associated Press)
  • Americans are more concerned about the state of the nation’s cybersecurity in shutdown mode, a new survey from Cyber Talk says. 54 percent of those surveyed say they felt slightly more concerned about cyber threats under the shutdown. USA Today reports the shutdown will give hackers and cyber spies more time to find ways to breach national cyber security, even after the shutdown ends. (USA Today)
  • Agencies are staring at one of the biggest breaches of federal cybersecurity right in the face. The Federal Times reports, a new study found 49 percent of security breaches at agencies are caused by federal employees themselves who bypass security measures while surfing online and accessing email. It’s according to a report from public-private IT partnership MeriTalk. 69 percent of feds who were surveyed say their work takes longer because of additional cybersecurity measures they face. Two-thirds of federal network users also say security practices at their agency are “burdensome.” (Federal Times)
  • President Barack Obama bestowed the nation’s highest military honor on a retired Army captain yesterday. William D. Swenson received the Medal of Honor for bravery during combat in Afghanistan in 2009. And now, he says he wants to return to active duty. U.S. officials say Swenson submitted a formal request to the Army. Officials are working with him so he can return. The White House says Swenson saved his comrades’ lives during a Taliban ambush in Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan. Swenson was working as an embedded trainer and mentor to the Afghan National Security Forces. Swenson retired from the military in 2011. He has a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal and lives in Seattle. (Associated Press)
  • The Army Corps of Engineers is closing its regulatory offices, citing a lack of funding. The Corps says during the shutdown, it won’t evaluate permit applications or the like. That will delay construction and other activities that could disrupt sensitive areas, such as wildlife habitats or historic properties. (Army)
  • The Navy has canceled a major international gathering of Naval and Coast Guard leaders scheduled for next week. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert says, blame the shutdown. The International Seapower Symposium occurs every two years. It was to have taken place in Newport, R.I. Representatives from 111 nations were expected. Greenert says the Navy will look for opportunities to hold it next year. (Navy)
  • The government shutdown is leaving the “Deadliest Catch” guys stuck at the dock. Alaska’s multimillion-dollar red king crab season opened yesterday. But most of the crab boats aren’t heading out to sea. The federal managers who set fishing quotas are among Uncle Sam’s idled workers. Keith Colburn, captain of the Wizard, says the fishermen are being held politically hostage by “a bunch of knuckleheads.” Colburn testified before the Senate Commerce Committee last week. A camera crew from “Deadliest Catch” was there, so at least they’ll have something to show when the new season begins in April. (Associated Press)
  • The Army is moving most panel discussions at the annual Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition online. The Army says the live-stream will connect soldiers who cannot attend the conference in person due to budget and travel restrictions. Soldiers can ask questions and interact with the panels on social media. Volunteers on site will moderate their questions. A conference spokesman says the live-stream will help the Army reach a larger audience. (Army)