Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 22nd

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear budget director is leaving his post. A Democratic source says Peter Orszag will depart in July, and will be the first cabinet officer to leave the White House. Obama is said to have urged the 41-year-old Orszag to stay to work on the next federal budget. He reportedly declined because he originally planned to work at the White House for just two years.

  • With Orszag’s departure, there is already speculation about potential replacements. According to the Washington Post, among those expected to be in consideration are Gene Sperling, senior adviser to Treasury secretary Tim Geithner, Clinton administration alum and Berkeley business professor Laura Tyson, Rob Nabors, who currently works in the White House Chief of Staff’s office and Robert Greenstein, director of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • It is a small sampling, but it could be significant. A survey by CDWG finds that many feds would like to continue working during an emergency. They took a random sample of a little more than 200 defense and civilian federal workers, who said that they could function from a remote location for more than six days.
  • Sometimes telepresence just isn’t enough. Controversial comments about colleagues in a recent interview have gotten the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan summoned to Washington to explain himself. An Obama administration official says Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been ordered to attend the monthly White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person tomorrow rather than on a secure video line. At issue is an article in this week’s Rolling Stone, which depicts McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with important figures in the Obama administration and unable to convince his soldiers that his strategy can win the war.
  • President Barack Obama meets with state insurance commissioners today to talk about implementing the health care overhaul. Some benefits about to kick in include a ban on discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. And children will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
  • President Obama signs an order to expand restrictions on lobbyists who want to join government. The order bars agencies from appointing and re-appointing federally registered lobbyists to advisory committees, commissions and other boards. The new mandate builds on another signed by the president shortly after his inauguration. That original order contained exceptions and has faced much criticism. The Office of Management and Budget will review the new document and propose guidelines for implementation.
  • Criminal investigators are examining allegations that Afghan security firms have been extorting as much as $4 million a week from contractors paid with U.S. tax dollars and then funneling the spoils to warlords and the Taliban.
  • Federal Communications Commission officials are quietly trying to negotiate with phone and cable companies about compromise legislation to give the FCC authority over Internet service, without the need to re-regulate Internet lines. So far, there’s been no agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal. It reports FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus and other senior staff have been meeting with lobbyists representing the carriers and users such as Skype and Google. The FCC under Chairman Julius Genachowski has been pushing for so-called net neutrality.
  • The FAA has partnered with its European counterpart to integrate transatlantic air traffic control systems. The goal is provide consistent service to pilots flying over the North Atlantic. The partnership will move forward on American and European projects that will track planes by satellite instead of radar. Those projects will also replace voice communications with data messages.
  • Engineers working on the Navy’s next-generation submarine are about to have a new home. General Dynamics will move into Pfizer’s three building office complex in New London, Connecticut. No word on the cost, but the Washington Business Journal reports General Dynamics plans to start moving design and engineering employees in July. They expect to move into the 700-thousand square foot complex in phases through next year. The move is designed to help General Dynamics house its expanding electric boat division. That shipyard is also where they assemble subs.
  • The EPA has decided to delay enforcement of new lead-paint regulations after strong opposition from the home building industry and members of Congress from both parties. The rule requires contractors who work in older homes to obtain federal certification and follow detailed — and costly — steps to mitigate lead dust. The Wall Street Journal reports, an outcry the National Association of Home Builders, Home Depot and others caused the agency to suspend enforcement. The regulation took effect in April.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton has filed for an initial stock offering that could raise as much as $300 million dollars. The consulting giant hasn’t set a date for the offering. The Washington Business Journal reports it intends to use proceeds to repay debt. Booz Allen shifted into expansion mode this year, announcing in May it would hire or rehire about five thousand employees this year, with 60 percent of those new jobs in the Washington area.
  • A former executive vice president at Lockheed Martin is taking on a new role at SAIC. A. Thomas Young has been elected non-executive chairman of the board of directors at federal contracting giant Science Applications International Corp. Washington Business Journal reports Young succeeds Ken Dahlberg, who retired earlier this month. Young has been an SAIC board member since 1995, most recently as independent lead director. He retired from Lockheed Martin in 1995.
  • It’s official. General James Amos is Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s pick to be new commandant of the Marine Corps. The job requires Senate confirmation. Gates passed over General James Mattis, an expert in counterinsurgency warfare who might have strongly challenged proposed budget cuts. Amos is seen as supporting them. The White House is expected to accept Gates’ choice. If confirmed, Amos would replace James Conway as commandant. Gates proposed replacing Amos in the deputy slot with Lieutenant General Joseph Dunford.
  • Former federal prosecutor Michael R. Bromwich started work yesterday as director of the government agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service. It still oversees offshore drilling and other oil and gas development. But now it’s called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. That’s BOE for short. By whatever name, it has been criticized for having a too-close cozy relationship with oil companies and lax oversight.
  • The dome of the Capitol building in Washington is getting a fresh coat of white paint to help protect its cast-iron surface. The Architect of the Capitol says the project is expected to take five months with completion in November. The 9-million-pound dome was last painted in 2002. It’s inspected each year for any cracks that must be sealed. Workers will be evaluating the dome for a more comprehensive restoration project. Plans call for eventually removing the old paint and repairing or replacing broken ironwork. The dome was completed in 1866. Its last major renovation was in 1960.

  • More news links

    Who will succeed Peter Orszag? (WashingtonPost)

    USDA-chartered plane crashes into home; 3 dead

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    Armed man, gunshot sounds cause NJ base lockdown

    Calif. license plates might go digital, show ads

    7th-Graders Discover Mysterious Cave on Mars (SPACE.com)

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    ** And lawmakers are very focused on your pay. Why? And what might happen? Analysis from our senior correspondent Mike Causey.