Monday morning federal headlines – August 1

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Congress and the White House finally agreed on a debt deal. But it means big cuts for federal agency budgets. As part of the agreement, more than $900 billion will be cut over 10 years from Cabinet agency budgets. In exchange, the debt ceiling will increase by $400 billion. (Federal News Radio)
  • Even with the debt deal, 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration workers remain furloughed as part of a separate incident of partisan gridlock over the agency’s funding. The FAA’s operating authority – and airlines’ authority to collect $30 million a day in federal ticket taxes – expired last week. Now, Democrats are pushing airlines to give back their windfall from raising fares during the so-called ‘tax holiday,’ The Associated Press reports. (AP)
  • As defense contractors face tighter global budgets and troop withdrawals in the Middle East, many are buying up companies with niche technology services to offset possibly declining profits, Reuters reports. L-3 Communications Holdings plans a tax-free spinoff of part of its government services segment into a new company, called Engility, that will focus on systems engineering and technical assistance. Earlier this year, Raytheon bought cybersecurity firm Applied Signal Technology to expand its reach in intelligence gathering.(Reuters)
  • The Centers for Disease Control is moving its disease surveillance system to the cloud, Government Computer News reports. The BioSense program is remaking itself as an information-sharing platform for federal, state and local health care officials. CDC decided on the moved to save on IT security and maintenance costs. BioSense was created by the CDC after 9/11 to respond to bioterrorism incidents. (GCN)
  • Same sex couples will soon receive the same child care benefits available to all eligible federal employees. The Office of Personnel Management has proposed a rule clarifying that same-sex partners and their children are defined as family members. They will receive childcare services and subsidies, if they meet the income qualifications. (Federal News Radio)
  • AT&T, Verizon and four other telecom companies are proposing an overhaul of the $8 billion federal phone subsidy program to pay for high-speed Internet connections in rural and other underserved areas.The companies said the plan, which was formally filed with the Federal Communications Commission Friday, would bring broadband service to nearly all Americans within five years. The proposal is one of dozens that the FCC will likely receive as it seeks to bring the federal program, called the Universal Service Fund, into the digital age. The agency voted unanimously in February to begin drafting a blueprint to modernize the fund. (Federal News Radio)
  • NASA’s space shuttle program is now over, but the clean-up is just beginning, USA Today reports. The space agency is preparing to clean up “toxic viscous goo” left behind from decades of space shuttle, moon mission and rocket launches around Kennedy Space Center. The goo is seeping into groundwater and has contaminated at least two square miles of soil. The clean-up efforts will take decades and cost the agency hundreds of millions of dollars. (USA Today)
  • A group of disabled veterans has won a settlement from the federal government, in which they will receive lifetime health care benefits — after being denied care when discharged from service because of posttraumatic stress disorder, The Associated Press reports. The National Veterans Legal Service Program and the government asked the court to approve lifetime disability retirement benefits to the 1,029 veterans. (AP)
  • An investigation into the alleged use of psychological operations on U.S. senators visiting Afghanistan has cleared the three-star general at the center of the allegations. An article in Rolling Stone magazine in February accused Lt. Gen. William Caldwell of using psy-ops soldiers to influence senators to increase funding for the war. The DoD inspector general’s investigation found the claims against Caldwell were not substantiated. (Federal News Radio)
  • As the budget ax falls, more agencies are considering buyouts and early retirement offers. About 1,100 Defense Department employees accepted buy-outs so far this year, while the Agriculture Department is offering more than 500 buyouts. Tammy Flanagan, the senior benefits director at the National Institute of Transition Planning, told Federal News Radio employees should have a private-sector job lined up before accepting a buyout, because it is likely not enough money to live on. (Federal News Radio)
  • Scotland Yard officials said they have arrested the teenage spokesman of the “Lulz Sec” hacking group. The 18-year-old was arrested in Scotland but has only been identified as “Topiary.” In its six-week hacking spree, LulzSec breached Sony, pornography sites and even the CIA. (Federal News Radio)