Friday federal headlines – May 30, 2014

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear at risk of security breaches from both the inside and outside. The department has not fully implemented security-control standards on all of its servers and network devices. Critics say the VA’s IT systems are “disjointed” and old. The IG gives 35 recommendations. VA agreed with all of them. (Federal News Radio)

  • Tensions are growing between the U.S. and China over accusations of cyber- spying. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will speak with Chinese representatives during a national security conference in Singapore this weekend. The situation involving five Chinese military officers hacking American companies will definitely come up, as will the Chinese government saying the U.S. targeted them in cyber espionage. Secretary Hagel has other matters on his to-do list, though. They will discuss territory disputes in the Pacific theaters, like how China has been strong-arming nations like Vietnam and set up a controversial defense zone over islands controlled by Japan. (Associated Press)
  • A little green button soon will tell federal building managers if they are wasting energy. The head of the General Services Administration Dan Tangherlini says his agency will adopt the Green Button technology across its real estate portfolio. GSA says an early test of the technology at 100 of its buildings uncovered $16 million in energy savings. Green Button lets electricity customers download data on their energy use. Its backers say more than 43 million households and businesses can use it today. (GSA)
  • Election year is fast approaching, and lawmakers aren’t letting Pentagon officials make cuts where they want to. The House panel that deals with defense spending released a budget blueprint that leaves many programs untouched which military officials consider “parochial.” The House panel wants to spare the USS George Washington carrier program, give personnel a 1.8 percent pay raise and give military families more money for housing and groceries. The DOD only wants a 1 percent personnel pay increase and slightly more for families on bases. It says not cutting older programs will take away from the force’s ability to train soldiers, airmen and sailors. (Associated Press)
  • As more members of Congress call for him to resign, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki pledges new steps to hold his employees accountable for misconduct and delays at health care facilities. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America was one of several veterans groups to meet with the secretary behind closed doors. Shinseki has promised to accept the inspector general’s recommendations, including a nationwide review of veterans on wait lists for health care. Shinseki speaks to a homeless veterans group today. He is expected to provide more details there. (USA Today)
  • The Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons has signed its first new contract in 16 years. The American Federation of Government Employees represents prison guards and other staff. It notes that the contract preserves employees’ benefits and adds news ones, including more money for uniforms. Union officials say they’ve been working with the Justice Department on their relationship following the deaths of two officers last year. One was stabbed by an inmate at a high-security prison. The other was killed in an ambush attack while driving home from work. AFGE says it hopes new agreements will follow, including one letting officers carry pepper spray and another on mandatory minimum sentences. Most federal prisons are severely over capacity. (AFGE)