Tuesday federal headlines – July 29, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Three cybersecurity bills have sailed through the House. Supporters say, they will help protect water systems, oil-and-gas pipelines and other critical infrastructure from cyber attacks while ensuring the government has a steady supply of cybersecurity professionals. Taken together, they would codify several initiatives at Homeland Security Department. One measure would provide liability protection to companies that voluntarily submit information about cyber incidents to DHS. Another would help DHS recruit, hire and train cyber workers by requiring the department to have a long-term projection of staffing needs and a strategy to meet them. (House Committee on Homeland Security)
  • A big industry group weighs in on how to speed up and improve federal acquisition. The Professional Services Council says better workforce training is needed for what it calls a contemporary, empowered acquisition workforce. The 75-page report has recommendations “major change”. The results of the recommendations will be what the council calls “speed to outcome, agility, transparency and competitiveness”. The council represents dozens of technology services companies in the federal market. Its report will go to acquisition leadership in the executive branch and to members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. (Professional Services Council)
  • The Postal Service is hiring someone to conduct layoffs, just in case they are necessary. An internal job posting calls for a Reductions-In-Force administrator; someone who is computer-savvy and knowledgeable about RIF policies. In a statement, the agency does not say layoffs are imminent. But it cautions that its business model continues to change. Having a dedicated, qualified administrator will ensure accuracy and efficiency of the RIF process, should it happen. The Postal Service is accepting applications until tomorrow. (U.S. Postal Service)
  • Another big oops for the security clearance process. Tens of thousands of DoD employees and contractors deemed eligible for clearance owed hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. That’s according to a Government Accountability Office audit. GAO found 83,000 cases from between 2006 and 2011. Four in ten of the tax delinquents were federal employees. GAO says the Office of Personnel Management, the director of National Intelligence and the Defense Department are now working to include tax compliance data into the clearance process. High personal debts, including tax bills, are considered a security risk. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan deal on Veterans Affairs reform has a price tag of $17 billion. Of that, $10 billion would be emergency spending, meaning it wouldn’t require an offset somewhere else in the budget. The agreement is announced by the House and Senate Armed Services Committee chairs after weekend negotiating. If enacted, the bill would let VA hire more medical staff, create 27 new health clinics and give private care coverage to veterans more than 40 miles from a VA facility. It also expands veteran scholarships and other educational benefits. The House Republican sponsor, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), faces a tough sell among some of his colleagues. (Associated Press)
  • The Defense Department is losing its industrial policy chief. Elana Broitman will resign for family reasons at the end of August. She was only confirmed in the job in March. Her deputy position is vacant. During her short tenure, Broitman received high marks advocating for the defense industrial base at a time of price cutting and program cutbacks. Industry executives say they’re concerned with how long it might take to replace her. (Wall Street Journal)
  • An alleged British hactivist is charged with stealing sensitive information from Deltek, a government market research firm. The Eastern Virginia U.S. Attorney’s office indicts Lauri Love, who is also under federal indictment in several other hacking cases. Deltek discovered the breach in March, but it took place more than a year ago. Love was able to obtain credit card numbers from 23,000 Deltek customers. Officials say Love boasted in a chatroom of what he found at Deltek, and how useful it was. Love is also charged with cyber break-ins at the Federal Reserve and the Energy Department. The BBC reports, British authorities have released Love from custody. (NextGov)
  • Military members will have to get good grades if they want the Defense Department to pay for their education. New rules require undergraduate students to maintain at least a C and graduate students to earn a B to get financial support. If students don’t make the grade, they will have to repay the money. The department also will no longer pay lab and course fees. Officials warned earlier this year that they were making changes to control spending. The new rules begin in September. (U.S. Army)