Monday federal headlines – January 27, 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.

  • The White House says it will submit its annual budget request late, but not as late as last year. The 2015 request will come out March 4, about a month after the traditional first Monday in February. Last year it was two months late. An Office of Management and Budget spokesman says, White House staff is moving as fast as it can. A wrinkle for this year is that Congress agreed to a 2015 top-line budget back in December, when it completed work on 2014. Budget watchers are curious to see if President Obama’s 2015 request will match the congressional ceiling. (Federal News Radio)
  • Long-time White House financial chief and one-time acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel has left government. Federal Times reports, Werfel quietly departed Dec. 31. He had been controller at the Office of Management and Budget. He helped develop Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation. And Werfel was instrumental to the White House plan for reducing improper payments. President Obama tapped him to run IRS last year. That was after a scandal in the tax exempt unit forced out the previous acting commissioner. Congress confirmed John Koskinen as permanent commissioner in December. (Federal Times)
  • GSA has canceled its annual Expo conference for the second year in a row. Expo was a showcase for industry new products and where federal employees received training on how to use GSA supply contracts. In a notice on its website, GSA cited the fiscal climate and a tight rein on federal travel expenses. The notice says GSA hasn’t ruled out next year’s Expo. GSA is also phasing out its credit card training conference in favor of an online version later this year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The VA has Congress breathing down its neck over a recent cybersecurity breach. The House Veterans Affairs Committee wants answers to 18 questions concerning a botched software update to VA’s eBenefits system. The department estimates 5,000 veterans could be affected. VA last week reported that 20 of them called to say that when they logged on, they saw someone else’s records. The questions come in a letter from Committee Chairman Jeff Miller to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The VA’s Data Breach Core Team is reviewing the incident. (Federal News Radio)
  • In a first, the Justice Department charges four people for trafficking in counterfeit apps. The men, from Florida and Oregon, allegedly reproduced and sold more than 1 million copies of Android apps through their own online market. The Justice Department says the case is just part of a long-standing commitment to protecting intellectual property rights, no matter the form they take. (Department of Justice)
  • The FBI says hackers did not attack the federal court websites. The bureau tells the Wall Street Journal the sites shut down Friday because of technical problems. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts originally told media that a denial-of-service-attack had overwhelmed the system. Some attorneys could not file documents electronically. Others could not read court records. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are giving people the flu — on purpose, to understand the way the body fights the virus. 100 volunteers get squirts of the live virus up their noses. Then the aches, fever and sniffles follow, with researchers keeping track. It’s a rare type of study. The last time U.S. scientists did it was more than a decade ago. But back then they didn’t have as sophisticated means to measure the effects of the flu. The NIH team says today’s vaccines are working but could be much better. (Associated Press)
  • The boss of the F-35 fighter program says he’s putting laser focus on software. It’s the main danger to on-time deployment of the Marine Corps version of the new jet. Reuters reports, Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan considers software the number one risk to the program. He reorganized the F-35 program office last year to focus more on software. Everything the plane does is controlled by software. Bodgan has several deputies concentrating on the next software deliverable, known as Block 2B. The Marine Corps version is one of three being developed by Lockheed. It includes a vertical take-off mechanism. Critics say that’s made the plane too complicated and heavy. The Marines want their version to become operational starting in mid-2015. (Reuters)
  • Budget cuts have forced conservationists to suspend work on a Civil War era ship. The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., has closed the lab that houses remnants of the USS Monitor. Directors say the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration slowly has cut funds for the restoration. NOAA says it supports the work as appropriations allow. Talks continue. The Monitor sank off the North Carolina coast in 1862. Sixteen sailors died. The remains of two of them, found in the ship’s turret, were buried last year at Arlington National Cemetery. (Associated Press)