Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 10th

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear moving to the General Schedule. John James, in Senate testimony Thursday, said the employees are not getting their full pay raises, because they already earn more than their new General Schedule grades allow.

  • Among the costs to run the House of Representatives for a year are $30 million for Members and staff to travel around the country, $4 million for office temps, $400,000 for bottled water and $3 million for buffet lunches, doughnuts and pizza. A new database built by the Sunlight Foundation in cooperation with Roll Call puts spending data into a single, sortable, searchable spreadsheet for the first time. According to the Sunlight data, the top vendor doing business with the House in the last six months of 2009 was CDW-Government. The second-highest-paid vendor was postage giant Pitney Bowes. Other major vendors include Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Cisco Systems.
  • Federal News Radio told you a little bit about this yesterday — The Senate vote on intelligence chief could be delayed. Lawmakers have been concerned about a memo from James Clapper, President Obama’s nominee for national intelligence director. That memo, written about a month before he was tapped for the DNI job, details Clapper’s objections to 17 provisions of the 2010 intelligence authorization bill. That bill provides a larger budget and more executive power to the DNI. The chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, has already voiced misgivings over Clapper as intelligence director. She says she wants his views on the bill’s provisions, and whether he believes a stronger DNI would weaken the authorities of the secretary of defense.Clapper is scheduled to meet privately with lawmakers at the end of this week, but now it doesn’t look as though Clapper will be confirmed by July.
  • The Office of Management and Budget considers a temporary halt on new projects to modernize federal financial management systems. A draft memo Federal News Radio has obtained would be the latest step in the administration’s attempt to reshape federal financial management. The temporary pauses would give OMB time to approve implementation plans that agencies have crafted. They would apply to projects worth at least $10 million dollars and to existing development task orders worth more than $500-thousand dollars.
  • GSA names its first Chief Greening Officer. Eleni Reed will step into that post. There, she’ll be in charge of reducing the environmental footprint of more than 9,000 federal buildings. Those buildings are owned or least by GSA.
  • It is a $900-million dollar contract to help the Air Force with software. And it’ll be split between some major players in the Defense Contracting world. Northrup Grumman, Boeing, DCS, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin all get a piece of the $919-million dollar contract to provide software development of mission planning systems. The software will provide the warfighter with the tools to plan missions and transfer required data to the aircraft avionics.
  • It was only a matter of time, really. Twitter is hiring a government liason. The social media site posted a job listing, looking for an experienced, entreprenurial person to make Twitter better for policymakers, political organizations and government officials and agencies. The new hire would be the first D.C.-based employee and will be responsible for helping Twitter understand how government works.
  • The Feds want to make it a little more expensive to become an American. Under a proposal by immigration officials, the price of green cards, business visas and other immigration red tape would go up. The fee hikes would help close a projected $200-million dollar budget gap for next fiscal year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department has already cut $160-million dollars from its budget, but that wasn’t enough. USCIS is a fee-based organization with about 90 percent of its budget coming from fees paid by applicants and petitioners to obtain immigration benefits. Your comments about the proposals are requested on the Federal Register.
  • Transgender travelers no longer need surgery in order to change their stated genders on U.S. passports. Starting today a transgender person just needs to show a physician’s certification that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” to declare a new gender on a passport.
  • The Secretary of Transportation promised to come up with new rules aimed at preventing pilot fatigue. Now, lawmakers are holding Secretary Ray LaHood to his promise. The top Democratic and Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its aviation subcommittee sent LaHood a letter complaining that DoT has yet to propose new rules to govern how many consecutive hours airlines can require pilots to work. LaHood says the rule is under review and they’re working on a proposal.
  • Disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been released from prison to a halfway house in the mid-Atlantic region, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Wednesday. Abramoff, 51, was released Tuesday from the minimum-security federal prison camp in western Maryland where he had been confined since November 2006 for fraud, corruption and conspiracy convictions. He got a four-year sentence in 2008 for conspiring to defraud the U.S., corrupting public officials and defrauding his clients. As part of his plea deal, Abramoff cooperated in a long-running Justice Department investigation that led to the convictions of former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles and several top Capitol Hill aides.
  • Two U.S. military officials deployed to Afghanistan, two DOD contractors and a contracting company have been charged in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme. As part of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force, the Justice Department indicted Sergeants Charles Finch and Gary Canteen for taking a $50,000 bribe from Assad John Ramin and Tahir Ramin, owners of a trucking company. According to the indictment, shortly after the money was delivered, the company was recommended for a contract, and eventually won. Everybody involved now faces 15 years in prison and a quarter of a million dollar fine.
  • According to USDA’s calculations, a baby born last year will cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars over the next 17 years. The Expenditures on Children by Families report finds that a middle-income family with a child born in 2009 can expect to spend about $222,360 for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise that child over the next 17 years. If you factor in inflation, the cost rises to $286,050. And that’s a total…not per year.
  • McGruff gets roughed up, and a Washington-area bus driver gets his job back. A Metro bus driver was fired after he pulled his bus over in February of 2009 and slugged McGruff the Crime Dog. An off-duty police officer was wearing the McGruff costume. The bus driver was convicted of simple assault. But his union took the firing to arbitration. Now, an arbitrator has ruled the driver should get his job back. The man is expected to be behind the wheel of a Metrobus later this month.

  • More news links

    FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting

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    NASA aircraft to track spacecraft re-entry

    Taco Bell Tries To Bring Back $2 Bill For Publicity Stunt (Consumerist)

    THIS AFTERNOON ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    * We’re going to talk about information sharing. GAO has been looking at inter-agency collaborations — in the world today, you’re being asked to work together to solve problems. How’s that going? We’ll get GAO’s assessment.

    ** And ensuring the safety of food. A new assessment says the FDA needs a change in how it views the challenge of ensuring food is safe. We’ll get details.

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