Friday federal headlines – February 14, 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.

  • Federal agencies in the Washington, D.C., region are open Friday, Feb. 14, with a two-hour delayed arrival in effect. Employees also have the option to take unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework, according to the Office of Personnel Management. OPM says employees should plan to arrive at their offices no more than two hours later than they would normally be expected to arrive. Non-emergency employees who report to the office will be granted excused absence for up to two hours past their regular arrival time. If you plan to telework, make sure you notify your supervisor. And be prepared to do it for the entire day. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House tells Congress, no need for sequestration this year. The Office of Management and Budget says last month’s spending law for fiscal 2014 keeps discretionary funds below the cap set by the Budget Control Act. That’s the law that put across-the-board cuts, totaling $85 billion, in motion last year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House releases its 2015 budget request on March 4th. OMB tells Bloomberg News, the proposal will come in two installments. The first phase will contain each department’s budget summary with details and an appendix. OMB will release volumes with historical tables and supplementary analysis the next week. (Bloomberg News)
  • It seems Congress thinks the Veterans Affairs Department is top heavy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sponsors a version of the bill Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) introduced earlier this week. It would let the VA secretary fire or demote SES members. No mention of due process. Top veterans service organizations support the measure, too. AMVETS Cmdr. John Mitchell says the civil service system is “antiquated and morbidly dysfunctional.” He says it’s hard to do anything more than “slap the wrists” of senior executives who are incompetent, ineffective or worse. (House)
  • The Defense Department warns employees, don’t lose your common-access card. This time, the department means it. Employees will have to show signed, official letters or police reports to get replacements. The Defense Human Resources Activity will scan and store the papers. That’s an optional policy now. The agency says it will be fully enforced by spring. A spokesman says the policy will help security offices spot people who keep losing their ID’s. It will also alert government employees to any problems with contractors they sponsor. (Defense Department)
  • Former NSA analyst Edward Snowden accessed some classified documents using a password he got from a co-worker. An NSA official tells Congress, the civilian employee had his security clearance revoked. Snowden, who has leaked thousands of secret documents to the media, has denied using someone else’s credentials. Ethan Bauman, the NSA legislative director, says the employee loaned Snowden his public key encryption certificate. That let Snowden get his password, which in turn led to the treasure trove of documents Snowden took and leaked to the media. (Associated Press)
  • Federal transportation regulators are striking a sour note with musicians and their supporters in Congress. Two years ago, Congress directed the Transportation Department to write regulations requiring airlines to accommodate musicians traveling with their instruments. The aim was to prevent loss or damage to valuable instruments. Final regulations are due today, but the department hasn’t even started writing them. Transportation spokeswoman Meghan Keck said the agency doesn’t have enough money to do the work needed to write the regulations. She says the FAA asked for the money in this year’s budget, but was turned down by Congress. It would have required four staff members. (Associated Press)
  • The intelligence community may be losing track of some contractors with access to sensitive information. The Senate releases a report that highlights problems with the annual inventory of so-called “core contractors.” It suggests a lack of consistent record-keeping across intelligence agencies. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says the lack of reliable data and long-term planning has made the intelligence community too dependent on contractors. She suspects it’s wasting tax money. (Senate)