Tuesday federal headlines – December 3, 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.

  • Before you get excited about a drone dropping a package at your doorstep, know that the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t giving the go-ahead yet. And not for some time. In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said his company was working on a way to let unmanned aircraft do deliveries, hopefully within five years. But the FAA is moving slowly on drones for commercial use. It plans to propose rules next year that could allow limited use of drones weighing up to 55 pounds. But those rules are expected to include major restrictions on where drones can fly. (Associated Press)
  • With one day left on the job, deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter got a big sendoff. Senior Defense Department, White House and congressional leaders said good-bye yesterday at an emotional Pentagon ceremony. In his two tours at the Defense Department, Carter served under 11 defense secretaries. One of them, Leon Panetta, said in a note, he couldn’t have done his job without Carter. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Carter the most important and least known figure in Washington. Secretary Chuck Hagel presented Carter with the Department of Defense Award for Distinguished Public Service with a gold palm, the highest civilian award. (Defense Department)
  • The National Institutes of Health will get $100 million in re-directed funds aimed at new HIV research. President Barack Obama says the money will help NIH find a new generation of therapies. His announcement comes just after World AIDS Day. The President also promised the United States would contribute up to $5 billion over the next three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. That’s if other countries pledge $10 billion under a Congressionally mandated 1:2 funding ratio. (Associated Press)
  • Travelers in U.S. airports leave more than $.5 million in coins each year at TSA checkpoints. Under a House bill, that money would go to organizations that operate airport lounges for military personnel and veterans. Right now, that means the United Service Organization. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Jeff Miller (R- Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He’s also co-chairman of the Congressional USO Caucus. He calls the lost coins unappropriated funds that should be put to good use. A vote could come this week. (The Seattle Times)
  • Cyber Monday didn’t quite work out for hundreds of websites selling counterfeit merchandise. Europol says American and European authorities seized control of more than 700 of them. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director John Sandweg says the operation’s goal was to stop counterfeiters from taking advantage of holiday shoppers on the year’s busiest online day. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit teamed with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center plus 10 foreign law enforcement agencies. Common stuff sold on the sites included headphones, sports jerseys, grooming products, shoes and electronics. 297 of the sites were hosted in the U.S. (ICE)
  • The Homeland Security Department is supposed to help agencies secure their cyber networks, but it’s having problems securing its own. In a new report, the inspector general says many components are operating their networks on expired authorities, which makes it hard to tell how protected they are. In addition, the IG says there’s a pervasive lack of strong authentication measures. Yet the IG says the department is on the mend. DHS agreed with all the recommendations. Nonetheless, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) was quick to slam the department, saying it skips basic cyber protections that would be “obvious to any 13-year-old with a laptop.” (Federal Times)
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is extending its reach. It’s issued a new rule expanding its oversight of companies that collect student loan payments. Sallie Mae and similar companies that are not banks together service about 49 million loans. At a time when borrowers are falling behind in payments, the bureau says more oversight is warranted. The rule takes effect in March. It would let the bureau monitor internal procedures and examine data of any company that services more than 1 million borrower accounts. (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)