Friday federal headlines – December 13, 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 House passed a compromise budget bill Thursday that has something missing for everybody. The modest spending package would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit agencies next month, making another government shutdown unlikely. The bipartisan budget pact is in the hands of the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from Republicans. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week. (Associated Press)
  • A comprehensive defense policy bill addressing sexual assault in the military now heads to the Senate. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill Thursday night, with a vote of 350 to 69. Among the nearly two dozen provisions in the bill — military commanders would no longer be able to overturn jury convictions, and any person convicted of sexual assault would face a dishonorable discharge or dismissal. The bill also authorizes $552 billion for the regular budget, plus almost $81 billion for conflicts overseas. Military personnel will receive a 1 percent salary increase. (Associated Press)
  • The Homeland Security Department has received a clean financial audit for the first time in the agency’s history. Its 2013 books were audited by KPMG. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, called the achievement a milestone. But the agency still has ring around the collar. Auditors identified a list of eight material weaknesses in DHS accounting. These included financial reporting and information technology controls and system functionality. (Federal News Radio)
  • Women have made a lot of progress in advancing their federal careers. But they still face hurdles to reaching the highest levels of pay and responsibility. That’s the gist of a new report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The report was based on statistical research and interviews with women’s groups. It says women make up 44 percent of the federal workforce, but only 38 percent of the GS-14s and 15s. Only 30 percent of the Senior Executive Service are women. EEOC says under-representation in technical fields may be one reason more women don’t rise to the top. (Federal News Radio)
  • A computer hacker is sentenced to 18 months in prison for his crimes against the Energy Department. Andrew Miller, a 23-year-old from Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud. The FBI says he attempted to sell access to two supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, part of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, for $50,000. Court documents reveal that from 2008 to 2011, Miller hacked into computers, installed backdoors designed to provide root access to the system, then sold access to the backdoors. (FBI)
  • A presidential task force is recommending a sweeping overhaul of the National Security Agency. The Wall Street Journal reports the draft proposal would change the spy agency’s leadership from military to civilian. The task force also proposed that the phone company or a different third party hold the phone records of nearly every U.S. phone call collected in a controversial NSA program. NSA would need to meet strict standards before being allowed to search the phone data. These draft recommendations aren’t binding and may change in the final version of the proposal due to the White House on Sunday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Two federal agencies are headed in opposite directions when it comes to cell phone calls on commercial plane flights. FCC commissioners vote 3-2 to begin a public comment period on allowing cell calls at 50,000 feet. Chairman Thomas Wheeler is pushing for the change. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx isn’t so sure. He says just because it’s technically feasible doesn’t mean passengers should be subject to the potential annoyance of jabbering seat-mates. He says DoT may consider its own ban on the calls. Even Wheeler says he would personally not want to listen to another passenger’s yakk. (Associated Press)
  • Pop singer Adam Levine was recently named by People magazine as the sexiest man alive. Now he’s going to be selling the Affordable Care Act. Bloomberg reports the tattooed heartthrob will use Twitter to try and convince young people to enlist through a health care exchange. It’s part of a larger social media campaign modeled after President Obama’s re-election bid. Organizers say other celebrities involved are TV star Fran Drescher of The Nanny and actor Kal Penn of the Harold and Kumar movie series. Also Lisa Leslie, a former MVP in the Women’s National Basketball Association. The campaign kicks off today. (Bloomberg)
  • The attorney for a naval investigator said his client will plead guilty to bribery charges. John Beliveau II is accused of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery in a case that has rocked the Pentagon. Beliveau is a supervisory agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He’s one of three Navy officials arrested in the so-called Fat Leonard case. They were allegedly in cahoots with a Malaysian defense shipping contractor. In exchange for bribes, the three passed secret information to Glenn Defense Marine Asia so it could overbill the Navy for foreign port services. Navy Commanders Jose Sanchez and Michael Misiewicz have pleaded not guilty. (Associated Press)