#GovShutdown – Day 9 – VA running out of money for Vets – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER #GovShutdown Reader - Day 9:

  • House Republicans are currently drafting a bill that would allow the Defense Department to pay out $100,000 in death benefits during the government shutdown to the survivors of military troops that have been killed. The Hill reports that currently there is tension between the Pentagon and the House regarding this issue, with legislators stating that an earlier bill, which allowed DOD to continue paying the military during the shutdown, also allowed for the disbursement of death benefits. DOD officials argue, however, that because death benefits are not a paid allowance they were unfortunately exempted from this legislation and have been suspended until after the shutdown. House members intend for this new bill to reinstate the payment of death benefits by the military.

  • Politico: More than 7,000 Veterans Benefits Administration employees and 2,754 VA Office of Information Technology employees were placed on furlough starting Tuesday." Similar to the death benefits issues, House Republicans are pushing a piecemeal approach where Congress would pass a veterans funding bill while the government remains shut down.

  • Nearly 4 million veterans will stop receiving disability compensation from the VA if the government shutdown lasts until late October. That's what VA Secretary Eric Shinseki plans to tell the House Veterans Affairs Committee later today. He estimates 500,000 veterans or their surviving spouses will stop getting pension payments. In all, about $6 billion in benefits would be unavailable. VA officials have already said their processing of disability claims has slowed since the shutdown began Oct. 1. Shinseki says health care delivery at VA hospitals has not been affected.

  • GovInfo Security: Shutdown Threatens Fed InfoSec Staffing

  • NextGov: Why Defense CIOs Remain Furloughed. Defense Department Chief Information Officer Teresa Takai remains on the job, having been “excepted” from civilian furloughs, a Pentagon spokesman said. Defense Comptroller Robert Hale said on Sunday that CIOs were not covered by the Pay Our Military Act signed by President Obama on Sept. 30. An expansive interpretation of the law allowed the Pentagon to recall 90 percent of the 350,000 civilian employees who were initially furloughed when the government shut down on Oct. 1.

  • National Journal Poll: Most Americans Don't Understand the Debt Ceiling

  • The Atlantic: Why Obama rejected the GOP's piecemeal approach to funding the government—in one graph.

  • NYT: Shutdown’s Effects Begin to Ripple Through Small Businesses

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. A federal judge ruled on Monday that IBM had no grounds to protest the CIA’s awarding of a cloud contract to Amazon and that Amazon and the CIA, therefore, should move forward in the execution of the project. The Federal Times reports that Amazon’s contract with the CIA is valued at $600 million.  

  2. The bipartisan heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have almost reached an agreement on a cybersecurity bill that would promote cyber threat information sharing between the public and private sectors. Federal News Radio states that the two senators are confident that the bill will pass into law by the end of the year. Sen. Chambliss, specifically, believes that the legislation will find support in the House given that Sen. Feinstein had previously been working on a similar bill with Representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) of the House Intelligence Committee.

  3. A third unauthorized party illegally accessed the source code of multiple programs owned and managed by Adobe Systems last week. The hack is currently a threat to U.S. security given that 11 federal agencies currently use Adobe’s software for their operations. The Wall Street Journal observes that both Adobe and U.S. officials are concerned that the hackers will exploit vulnerabilities in the software or tamper with the source code.  

  4. President Obama has chosen to nominate Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve's vice chair, to be the organization’s new chairwoman. If she is approved by the Senate, she will succeed Ben Bernanke following the conclusion of his appointment on January 31, 2014. As reported by the Associated Press, if approved by the Senate, Yellen will be the first woman in the world to head a major central bank and the first democrat since Paul Volcker in 1979 to hold the position.

  5. The Energy Department’s Inspector General has found that the agency’s Bonneville Power Administration has been ignoring federal hiring directives and manipulating the process used to rate job applicants. Moreover, the Inspector General claims that Bonneville has purposefully been excluding veterans from certain positions. A Special Report by the Department of Energy states that the Energy Department and OPM are initiating an investigation of Bonneville’s case files to address these allegations.

  6. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that Paul M. Lewis has been appointed to the position of Special Envoy for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Defense.gov reports that Lewis’ appointment is an indication of the Pentagon’s efforts to execute the President’s directive to close the detention center at Guantanamo. As the former Minority General Counsel of the House Armed Services Committee, Lewis has experience working on Guantanamo related issues. In his upcoming position, he will be responsible for facilitating the transfer decisions for Guantanamo detainees.   

  7. Sequestration and the current government shutdown are reducing the military’s civilian workforce and causing a subsequent decline in overall readiness. The Army Times notes that the military is having to bring back $17 billion worth of equipment from Afghanistan due to budget cuts and a decrease in manpower. Overall operational readiness for ground equipment is currently at 90 percent and at 75 percent for aviation equipment.  

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • Welcome to the ‘hellabyte’ age. The “explosion of data in digital form” is threatening to leave the computer science world without a way to properly classify large volumes of information, MIT’s Andrew McAfee,  said, Monday, at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013. With Cisco Systems Inc. announcing in 2012 that its equipment was tracking a zettabyte of data, all that’s left is the yottabyte—that’s 1024  bytes. Mr. McAfee suggests that perhaps the term “hellabyte” — shorthand for a “hell of a lot of data” — should follow yottabyte. Here’s another big number lobbed at the Garter Inc.: $3.8 trillion. That’s how much that will be spent IT worldwide in 2014, according to Gartner research head Peter Sondergaard.

  • MIT Technology Review: NSA’s Hardware Snooping Highlights Difficulty of Detection or Defense

  • Guardian: UK web users spent an average of one in every 12 waking minutes each day online in the first six months of 2013

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