Wednesday federal headlines – January 8, 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 Army is sending 800 more soldiers to South Korea. Concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons have grown over the past year, but the move is part of a long term plan. The Pentagon is putting more resources into Asia and the Pacific as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. The Fort Hood-based troops will deploy next month. The Pentagon made the announcement as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se. (Defense Department)
  • Four executives at the General Services Administration are leaving. All are women. Deputy Administrator Susan Brita will retire March 14th after more than 30 years of government service. Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman will join AT&T Government Solutions. Strategic Initiatives & Outreach Director Kelly Olson is headed to Atlantic Media. Director of the Center for Excellence in Digital Government in the OSCIT, Sheila Campbell, will join the Peace Corps as director of strategic and digital integration. Brita will be succeeded as deputy administrator by Denise Turner Roth, currently the city manager of Greensboro, N.C. (Federal News Radio)
  • The federal government is trying to influence what goes on in local schools’ detention halls. The Obama administration has new recommendations on school discipline. It wants to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are punished. Several of the recommendations center on activities of school security people. Attorney General Eric Holder says well-intentioned zero-tolerance policies too often inject the criminal justice systems in resolving problems with troubled students. (Associated Press)
  • Lawmakers say they are 90 percent finished crafting a 2014 spending bill. But Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski says the last 10 percent is the hardest to negotiate. An aide says budgets for the departments of Defense, Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Transportation are virtually wrapped up. Current funding runs out next week. Among items still to be worked out is funding for the new health care law. (Associated Press)
  • The Indian government is taking aim at privileges enjoyed by American diplomats. It says U.S. embassy cars will now be pulled over for traffic violations. Pressure increases to shut down the embassy club because the club violates diplomatic law, which includes a bar, a bowling alley and a gym. The moves follow a dispute over the arrest and strip search last month of an Indian diplomat in New York City. (Associated Press)
  • President Barack Obama is meeting with supporters and critics of the National Security Agency as he gets ready to announce reforms to the agency’s surveillance programs. The President meets today with intelligence community leaders and the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. He’ll meet with Congress tomorrow. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper met yesterday with members of a blue-ribbon panel that has recommended limiting the NSA programs. They discussed ending the agency’s collection of telephone data, and asking phone companies to store the data instead. (Associated Press)
  • More than 100 people are under arrest and are being charged with Social Security disability fraud. The group includes 72 New York City police officers. Federal prosecutors say all were wrongly receiving thousands of dollars in federal disability benefits. Many claimed psychological damage stemming from the 9/11 attacks. One told a court he was incapable of leaving his house. But he was photographed merrily displaying a sailfish he’d caught on a deep sea fishing boat. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Junior said of the actions, “The brazenness is shocking.” (New York Times)
  • Sean O’Keefe is stepping down as Chairman and CEO of Airbus Group. The former NASA administrator will concentrate on restoring his health after recent surgery. He survived a 2010 small plane crash that killed former Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). O’Keefe has extensive federal experience in both the legislative and executive branches. He was deputy OMB director under President George W. Bush. Airbus Chairman Allan McArtor will take over O’Keefe’s duties. He’s a former FAA administrator and Air Force fighter pilot.