Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 11th

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear two-page memo from President Obama directs agencies to eliminate at least $3-billion dollars in excess property by the end of fiscal 2012. That’s on top of $10 billion dollars the Defense Department is expected to save from its Base Realignment and Closure process. The administration estimates that agencies own more than 65,000 properties that are considered under-used.

  • And that order to save money by eliminating unused property also calls for an immediate halt to data center expansions. President Obama says agencies must craft plans to consolidate and reduce the number of data centers by 2015. Plans to make that happen are due to the Office of Management and Budget by August 30.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in a new report released Thursday that the Defense Logistics Agency had no use for parts worth $7.1 billion, more than half of the $13.7 billion in equipment stacked in Defense Department warehouses on average from 2006 to 2008. “The waste of taxpayer dollars is unbelievable,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and Senate Budget Committee member who requested the study reports Reuters.
  • The president’s third pick to lead the Transportation Security Administration isn’t giving his views on collective bargaining rights for airport screeners. FBI Deputy Director John Pistole testified at his first confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Commerce Committee. Pistole said that he would consult with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on collective bargaining rights. That issue was a hot topic in confirmation hearings for the second TSA nominee, Erroll Southers. Democrats and Republicans in Thursday’s hearing praised Pistole as the right person to lead TSA. The New York Daily News reports despite the flareup on unions, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the committee’s chairman, predicted that Pistole “would win easy confirmation.”
  • A tough inspector general report has sparked the firing of the two top officials at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 200 veterans ‘ graves were unmarked or misidentified, while cremated remains were handled improperly, the IG found. He cited gross mismanagement, and an ongoing turf war between the cemetery leaders. Yesterday, Army Secretary John McHugh replaced the Arlington superintendent, John C. Metzler Jr., and put the cemetery policy deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, on administrative leave. Metzler will retire July 2.
  • Senator Joseph Lieberman will fast track his bill to change how agencies protect computer networks. Lieberman introduced it Thursday and plans to move it out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which he chairs, before July 4th. The measure would give the Department of Homeland Security a key role in oversight of civilian agency networks. It would also give DHS power to order private companies owning critical infrastructure to take specific actions to protect networks. Lieberman’s committee has scheduled a hearing for June 15th.
  • Risking an angry Congress, NASA Chief Charles Bolden is putting funding of a major program on the back burner. Congress is still debating the future of the Constellation, a launch system to take people to the moon started during the Bush administration. President Obama has proposed ending it. Bolden says he is putting Constellation on low priority status, according to the Wall Street Journal. That prompted Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson to say Bolden is willfully subverting the will of Congress, which earlier this year passed a resolution barring NASA from cancelling Constellation.
  • McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. may lay off 109 employees after losing a government contract renewal. SAIC has been working with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Alexandria, but that contract expires at the end of next month. The Washington Business Journal reports the company submitted a proposal for a follow-on contract, but DTRA has already started work with another contractor. SAIC says it will help affected employees find other jobs within SAIC or with other contractors.
  • The Senate has turned back Republican efforts to block EPA plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The resolution would have denied the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to move ahead with the rules, crafted under the federal Clean Air Act. With President Barack Obama’s broader clean energy legislation struggling to gain a foothold in the Senate, the vote took on greater significance as a signal of where lawmakers stand on dealing with climate change.
  • Health and Human Services is giving out grants designed to head off medical malpractice suits. The grants, which will total $25 million, are for demonstration projects of other ways to settle medical claims, the Wall Street Journal reports. In one example, a $3 million grant will go to the New York State Unified Court System, where obstetric and surgery patients will use alternative dispute resolution overseen by the court. Other grants will fund demonstrations of early disclosure of medical errors. In last year’s health care debate, the Obama administration promised action in lieu of tort reform.
  • President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, has signed a proclamation urging Americans to celebrate King Kamehameha Day Friday along with Hawaii. King Kamehameha unified the Hawaiian Islands under one government.

  • More news links

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    Obama to meet with owners of small businesses

    Flashy Army recruitment center in Pa. mall closing

    AF Suspends L-3 Special Ops Unit (DoDBuzz)

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