Monday federal headlines – January 20, 2014

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.

  • President Obama’s proposals on National Security Agency reform have raised questions from all quarters. The chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees question the wisdom and practicality of storing telephone metadata with third parties. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) says that could slow down responses to terrorist threats. Her House counterpart, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), says the President delivered a lot of uncertainty. Eight big technology companies say through their trade group, the President’s proposals don’t go far enough to protect privacy. (Associated Press)
  • The Justice Department and intelligence officials have two months to figure out how to preserve the National Security Agency’s phone metadata program if the agency doesn’t store the data. That’s one of the trickiest tasks President Barack Obama delegated to agencies in his speech on government surveillance Friday. He also told the State Department to make a senior official the point person for foreign governments that have concerns about U.S. data collection. (Associated Press)
  • The Interior Department has spent nearly $1.5 million responding to requests from one House committee. E&E Daily posted the letter Secretary Sally Jewell sent House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. In it, she says her staff spent 19,000 hours last year compiling about 40,000 pages for the committee. She calls the lawmakers’ requests “overly broad.” She tells Hastings that she wants to communicate with the committee, in a less labor-intensive way. (E&E Daily)
  • The Pentagon will launch a program this month to give mobile devices secure access to sensitive departmental data. And nearly all the devices supported will be BlackBerrys. NextGov reports the mobile device management system will cover 80,000 BlackBerrys and fewer than 2,000 iPhones and Android phones. The BlackBerry dominance may not last very long, though. Officials say they plan to add support for iPads, newer versions of iPhones, and Samsung tablets and smart phones. Even a Motorola RAZR phone. The program will eventually cover devices carried by 100,000 users. (NextGov)
  • The Pentagon says there’s no connection between three military aircraft crashes this month. Spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby tells U.S. News and World Report he thinks “they’re all tragic mishaps.” A Navy fighter jet crashed off the coast of Virginia Beach last week. The pilot jumped out and survived. The week before, two helicopters crashed in separate training incidents. In total, eight of the 10 crew members died. And most recently, a special operations helicopter platoon leader died after his helicopter crashed at a Savannah, Ga., area airfield. (U.S. News and World Report)
  • The numbers are in, and 2013 Combined Federal Campaign contributions fell sharply compared to 2012. Federal Times reports total giving for the National Capital Area came in at $47 million, down from $62 million in 2012. The Southern California area raised $4 million, down from $5.6 million in 2012. Vincent Micone chairs the federal employee committee that oversees the National Capital Area CFC. He says the government shutdown, furloughs and a three-year pay freeze depressed giving levels. The total national figure isn’t out yet. But in 2012, CFC totaled $258 million, down by about 9 percent from the peak in 2009. (Federal Times)
  • Postal workers fear their jobs are at stake in an agreement between the Postal Service and Staples. The agency is opening retail stations in the office supply store. Staples employees run them. The American Postal Workers Union says that’s a direct assault on members’ jobs. The Postal Service has opened centers at 84 Staples stores throughout the country. They sell stamps and mail packages. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the Postal Service isn’t going private. It just wants to make it more convenient for customers to buy its products. (Associated Press)
  • In which do you trust — business or government? 14 percent more people surveyed in a worldwide poll say they’d go with the CEOs. Edelman conducted the survey ahead of the Davos Forum in Switzerland. The public relations firm says a dramatic drop in trust in U.S. political leaders can be blamed on the debt ceiling standoff in Congress, National Security Agency snooping and the botched rollout of Just 37 percent of university- educated respondents say they trust U.S. Leaders. (Associated Press)
  • GSA has enjoyed so much success with its Alliant program, it has started early planning for a successor. Since the pair of governmentwide IT services contracts launched in 2009, agencies have obligated more than $15 billion in 357 task orders. The biggest Alliant user is the Air Force, with nearly one of four task orders. GSA says the final option on Alliant and Alliant Small Business will be exercised sometime this year. The agency launched a social media site to get early industry input into what it’s calling Alliant II. (Federal News Radio)