Friday federal headlines — March 28, 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 FCC chairman may regulate the most sophisticated communications system in the world, but its own technology is in the dark ages. After a Senate budget hearing, Chairman Tom Wheeler is making a plea for a $13.5 million upgrade to agency systems. As NextGov reports, many of the FCC’s PCs are still running Windows X-P, for which Microsoft is ending support in April. Forty percent of the agency’s technology is more than 10 years old. Wheeler says that leaves the agency vulnerable to cyber attacks which is unacceptable. (NextGov)
  • An outside review panel has deemed the National Nuclear Security Administration a failure. The review was conducted by former Lockheed Martin Chairman Norman Augustine and retired Navy Adm. Richard Mies. They say in the review that the nation’s nuclear enterprise is not in immediate danger but poor governance and a weak management culture at NNSA has put it at long-term risk. The Defense and Energy departments also lack a common vision, plan or program for the future of nuclear weapons, the report says. The review panel’s diagnosis lists five so-called systemic disorders national leadership must address.(Report)
  • The FBI has been on a tear to bring down corrupt politicians. The Wall Street Journal says the Justice Department has increased its use of aggressive sting tactics at the state and local levels. In the most recent cases, the mayor of Charlotte resigned after being caught taking a bribe from an undercover FBI agent. A California state senator was taken into custody, and the offices of a New York assembly member was raided. Brian Nadeau, chief of the FBI’s public-corruption unit, tells the Journal uncovering public corruption by people in positions of trust is an important priority for the bureau.(Wall Street Journal)
  • The Navy is trying to figure out how a convicted felon entered Naval Station Norfolk late Monday night where he reportedly killed a sailor aboard a destroyer. The shooter has been identified as Jeffrey Tyrone Savage. He had served prison time for voluntary manslaughter and drug possession with the intent to distribute. Officials still don’t know why he entered the base and boarded the USS Mahan. There’s no evidence that he knew anyone on the ship or that he wanted to commit terrorism. Officials say Savage had a Homeland Security-issues Transportation Workers Identity Credential, which is not sufficient to enter the base. Savage was killed by security forces after he shot Petty Officer Mark Mayo. (Associated Press)
  • The Peace Corps is stepping up efforts to diversify its volunteers, Acting Director Carrier Hessler-Radelet tells University of Michigan students. As part of this effort, the agency is putting a diversity expert in every regional recruitment office. The Peace Corps wants to double the number of applicants overall. To do so it is simplifying its application process. Hessler-Radelet says it should take candidates about an hour to apply rather than eight hours. The changes are part of a broad overhaul that includes new safety training and services for volunteers who become victims of crime. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force fires nine nuclear commanders and threatens to discipline 82 junior officers as punishment for cheating on exams. The commander of the 341st Missile Wing Col. Robert Stanley resigns. He says officers’ selfish actions have tarnished the force’s mission. In a farewell letter he writes they “let the American people down on his watch.” Officials now say the cheating went on for two years. The exams are given regularly to test missileers’ knowledge of emergency war orders. (Associated Press)
  • President Barack Obama is asking Congress to shut down the National Security Agency’s phone records program. The White House promises a replacement program that administration officials say.would address privacy concerns without hurting the government’s counterterrorism efforts. The government would have to get a court order and ask phone companies to search their records for specific numbers. Obama has asked a federal court to extend the program for another three months to give Congress time to act. He could keep requesting extensions until June 2015, when the law that authorizes the program is set to expire. (Associated Press)