Wednesday federal headlines – November 20, 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.

  • Federal managers are raising a collective voice against congressional gridlock. The Government Managers Coalition asks a bipartisan group of House and Senate members to make the tough decisions necessary to avoid another shutdown and end sequestration. The Coalition brings together several groups, together representing 200,000 federal executives and managers. It says the Dec. 13 deadline for the budget conference committee should spur Congress to finish its work. The letter cites a March GAO report detailing how stop-and-go spending and continuing resolutions degrade government performance. (Government Managers Coalition)
  • U.S. Marshals have taken custody of the man charged with killing a TSA officer at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month. Paul Anthony Ciancia was released from the hospital. He was being treated for gun shot wounds. He faces the death penalty in connection to the murder of Officer Gerardo Hernandez. Ciancia is also charged with wounding three other people, including two TSA officers. The shooting has led the TSA union to call for major changes in the agency’s security policies. (Associated Press)
  • NASA and the Air Force launched a private rocket from Wallops Island, Va., last night. The streak could be seen from Montreal to Savannah, Ga., and west to central Ohio. The Minotaur rocket carried aloft a variety of tiny satellites, or cubesats, built by students and guided by smart phones. The latest launch carried devices built by students at Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. Since 2010, NASA has launched 90 cubesats into orbit. Click here to view a video of the launch. (NASA)
  • The General Services Administration wants to establish a comprehensive pricing deal for Microsoft products. It issues a request for quotes under its Strategic Sourcing Initiative. It hopes to establish a blanket purchase agreement for Microsoft applications, server and enterprise products and support, with prices far below those on the multiple awards schedule contracts. The RFQ includes both perpetual licenses and software-as-a-service. GSA expects to establish a five-year, multiple-award BPA worth more than $5 billion. Bids are due Dec. 18. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agency cyber officials have new marching orders from the Office of Management and Budget. They have until Feb. 28 to establish strategies for information security continuous monitoring. But they have until 2017 to put the strategies in place. A memo outlining the new cybersecurity approach was supposed to come out months ago. But the new OMB director, Sylvia Burwell, wanted more detail in it. Agencies can choose to do it alone, or they can partner with the Homeland Security Department for network monitoring products and services. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Nov. 30 deadline to fix the bugs in is a bit fuzzy. Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the health-exchange portal will still be a work in progress at the end of this month. She says the department is focused on completing a punch list of items, but there will be no magic go date. The White House earlier promised the site would be running smoothly for the vast majority of users by Nov. 30. (Associated Press)
  • The Pentagon’s new electronic health record system is a go — in 2017. That’s just the beginning. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command says the system won’t be fully deployed by then. NextGov reports from a recent industry day, the Navy will award a contract to a systems integrator that can provide commercial software. The new system eventually would cover 9.7 million service members, retirees and their families. (NextGov)
  • The Pentagon is requiring defense contractors to final rule went into effect Monday. It mandates that contractors apply security controls set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Contractors have to report to the Pentagon whenever someone breaks into their unclassified networks and steals data. In a statement, Undersecretary Frank Kendell says cyber thieves are gaining an advantage in time and money by stealing defense systems requirements and other technical data. (Defense Department)
  • The armed services say they met their recruiting goals in fiscal 2013 for regular forces. The Army had the biggest nut, bringing in more than 69,000 so-called accessions. Reserve components had mixed results. The Air Force Reserve took in 135 percent of its goal of 5,800. But the Army Reserve only reached 88 percent of is goal of 30,000. Officials also said retention levels of mid-career officers were strong. (Defense Department)