Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 15th

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear ending paper checks for recipients of federal benefits. The change means that by March of 20-13, all of those payouts will come in the form of direct deposit to bank accounts, or thru a debit card issued by the Treasury Department. The administration announced plans for the project in April, saying it would save 300 million dollars in the first five years. OMB Director Peter Orszag says it will save more than $120-million a year after that. The paperless system will apply to benefits administered by the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs Department, Railroad Retirement Board and Office of Personnel Management.

  • The Government Accountability Office has just released its findings on the Federal Protective Service’s workforce analysis. GAO says it has identified several challenges facing FPS since it transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. It cites low staff morale, increased attrition, and the loss of institutional knowledge. GAO investigators say that FPS also needs to figure out just how many people it needs to achieve its mission. The Under Secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate says that the FPS staffing analysis plan is in its final stage of approval at DHS. From there it will go to the Office of Management and Budget for approval.
  • Envelopes with white powder were found in eight federal buildings in seven different cities across Washington, Idaho and Utah. FBI officials say they had to evacuate an IRS building and a U.S. attorney’s office, and now they’re investigating whether the incidents are linked. Nobody was hurt, and field tests showed the powders weren’t hazardous.
  • The General Services Administration is searching for a contractor to move its e-mail system to the cloud. GSA has issued a request for proposals thru the Alliant unrestricted contract. The agency is asking for 39 mandatory and 14 optional services. On top of email, GSA wants instant messaging and shared document repositories. The contract would be for one year base with four one-year options. Questions on the RFP are due this Thursday and final proposals by July 12th.
  • The General Services Administration is not using tools in its possession to reduce errors in its Multiple Award Schedule program. A new inspector general report cites weaknesses in oversight of the contracting process at the Integrated Technology Services’ Center for Information Technology Schedules Program. Two tools, eOffer and eMod, let vendors submit offers and contract modifications online, but were used only 30 percent of the time, according to NextGov. The 5,400 contracts involved represent $15 billion in yearly sales.
  • A U.S. government contractor is still assembling a key passport component in Thailand despite repeated warnings about security risks, ABC News reported. In a report conducted jointly with the Center for Public Integrity, a watchdog group, ABC said the Government Printing Office inspector general has warned the GPO lacks a basic security plan for protecting blank e-Passports from theft by terrorists, foreign spies or counterfeiters.
  • The State Department is quietly forming a small army to protect diplomatic personnel in Iraq, after U.S. military forces leave the country at the end of 2011. Department officials are asking the Pentagon to provide heavy military gear, including Black Hawk helicopters, and say they’ll need substantial support from private contractors.
  • A jet pilot could take the helm at the Marine Corps. Defense observers say the defense secretary has recommended General James Amos to become the next Marine Commandant. Right now, General Amos is the assistant commandant. If he takes the top job, he would be the first aviator to lead the Marines. President Obama has not made a formal nomination.
  • The National Security Agency tells job applicants, don’t sweat over your polygraph test. The NSA has produced a 10-minute video designed to calm peoples’ worries about lie detector tests the agency routinely administers. The video, entitled “The Truth About the Polygraph” is available at NSA’s web site.
  • The Labor Department mine safety regulators have removed one official from the team reviewing the government’s own actions — prior to an April explosion at a West Virginia mine that killed 29 miners. Stephen Gigliotti had been an acting district manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration. His district included oversight of the Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, and therefore might pose a conflict of interest, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • CSC has won the delivery order to support the improvement of information technology. The Falls Church-based company, formerly known as Computer Sciences Corp, will only say that the government client is a “major intelligence community agency.” The Washington Business Journal reports the order was awarded under the AXISS acquisition contract and has a one-year base period and four one-year options. The estimated total five-year contract value is $200 million.

  • More news links

    Feds get time off to care for domestic partners, but not pets (GovExec)

    Amos expected to be named commandant (MarineCorpsTimes)

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    iPhone Likely Loser For DoD Biz (DoDBuzz)

    NASA tests tsunami prediction system

    THIS AFTERNOON ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    ** When he was in Congress, Tom Davis was the main sponsor of Federal Information Security Act. Now there are a number of proposals to change it. What does he think? Former Congressman Davis will join us this afternoon.

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