Obama to talk NSA reform with lawmakers

A few items that caught our attention on Tuesday:

(Pete Souza/AFP/Getty Images)
(Pete Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama to meet with lawmakers on NSA reform: President Obama has promised to announce changes to the National Security Agency’s controversial spying programs in mid-January. In the meantime, he plans to meet Thursday with a bipartisan group of key lawmakers to discuss the matter, according to a Government Executive report.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates critiques Obama’s leadership in “Duty”: Bob Woodward offers a peek inside the new memoir from Gates, who issues “harsh judgements” about the president’s commitment and belief in the war in Afghanistan despite his authorization of a troop surge to help stabilize the country. See Woodward’s take in this Washington Post article.

Sen. Ron Johnson sues OPM over health-care regs: The Wisconsin Republican has filed a lawsuit against Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta seeking to overturn a regulation allowing lawmakers and their staffs to receive a government contribution toward their health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, which removed them from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, according to a Federal News Radio report.

Janet Yellen confirmed as Federal Reserve chairman: The Senate on Monday confirmed Janet L. Yellen as the next head of the Federal Reserve, despite opposition from some Republicans who have called for greater oversight of the central bank, according to a Washington Post report.

DOD officially extends benefits to gay spouses: The Pentagon on Monday formally adapted its definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” to include legally married same-sex couples, finalizing an interim rule that had the same effect last year, according to a Government Executive article.

Federal retirements decline in December: Data from the Office of Personnel Management shows that fewer federal employees filed for retirement in December than in any month in nearly the past two years, according to a report from Federal News Radio.

Conference spending down dramatically: A report from Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) shows that conference spending at four agencies fell 88 percent from fiscal 2010 to 2012 after several agencies were shaken by reports of wasteful conference spending and put strict controls into place to prevent such practices, according to a Federal Times article.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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