Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – July 1st

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear could leave agencies at risk during a crisis. That according to a new report urging government to assume that all feds are eligible to telework. The paper from Booz Allen Hamilton and the Partnership for Public Service focuses on using flexible work arrangements to ensure continuity of service. Among its recommendations: The government should set new goals for telework, getting nearly 600,000 federal employees to use it by 2014.

  • Customs and Border Protection has a new home. The Department of Homeland Security will occupy 85,000 square feet at 90 K Street, Northeast, in the NoMa area of DC. Washington Business Journal reports the competitively awarded lease will fill about 21 percent of the building. GSA signed off on the deal this week, and CBP will move in during the first part of next year.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency says feds have nothing to fear at the Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City. Air tests there have come up clean. The EPA was testing for PCB’s near a child-care center at the complex. The Kansas City Business Journal says this was part of a broader investigation of pollution at the complex. The investigation began after allegations that chemicals once used at the complex might’ve contributed to cancer and other health problems for people who worked there. The Bannister Federal Complex is managed by the General Services Administration, and houses GSA and Department of Energy workers.
  • House Appropriations Chairman David Obey has removed the lid from a $75-billion dollar emergency bill to fund US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the measure’s not all about defense; it also includes billions for the, the Gulf Coast oil spill, the government’s response to the Haiti earthquake and to save teaching jobs. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, cited in Congress Daily, says he expects enough votes for passage. But Democratic leaders are considering holding two separate votes, so that anti-war Democrats can oppose war spending but agree to the domestic priorities.
  • The Postal Service inspector general said it here on Federal News Radio, and now an independent actuary has confirmed it: The Postal Service should be relieved of up to $55 billion in projected long-term pension obligations. The actuarial report, produced by the Segal Company, was submitted to Congress by the Postal Regulatory Commission, reports FederalTimes. The Postal, facing massive deficits, has suggested ending Saturday delivery. But getting Postal out from under its annual overfunding of pension costs would solve its financial problems with no service cuts. The challenge: getting Congress and OPM to go along.
  • Defense Department contract managers are being told to use General Services Administration contracts to the extent possible. That message from Shay Assad, the Pentagon’s top career procurement official, GovExec reports. Speaking to vendors at a Coalition for Government Procurement event, Assad said buyers would need to make a business case for using GSA contracts. But increasing DOD’s leverage of its buying power requires more use of interagency contracts. Assad’s comments follow Monday’s announcement that DOD will try to get three percent annual procurement savings.
  • A $60.5 billion 2011 funding bill clears the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. It funds NASA to the tune of $19 billion, but leaves out money for the controversial Constellation moon program until Congress and the administration can decide on its future, according to Congress Daily. The bill gives the Commerce Department $8.9 billion, the Justice Department $30 billion, and science agencies more then $26 billion. The overall bill is less than last year, reflecting the end of spending on the 2010 census.
  • Deficit reduction is next on deck as a big Washington topic, reports the Wall Street Journal. The blue ribbon commission appointed by President Obama is floating the idea that spending cuts should be the main source for reducing the deficit, instead of tax increases. That’s from the Democratic members. They note a Congressional Budget Office projection that federal debt would rise to 62 percent of gross domestic product this year, the highest since 1945. Meanwhile, the president in Racine, Wisconsin says debt reduction is going to be his administration’s project in the next couple of years.
  • The Office of Federal Procurement Policy places interagency contracts under the spotlight. OFPP crafting a policy that will require agencies to create business cases before making those contracts. Agencies will need to study how a contract would affect the government’s ability to leverage its buying power. They would also need to look at how the contracts are different from existing ones. OFPP head Dan Gordon, speaking before a Senate panel, says the change will help improve internal management and oversight. The policy is expected later this summer.
  • John Pistole takes charge today of the Transportation Security Administration. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will swear him into office at New York City’s Penn Station. She’s there on a whistle-stop rail-tour, announcing a new partnership to share information with Amtrak; it’s an effort to improve rail security.
  • Can social networking help unite Afghanistan? The State Department thinks so. It has issued a request for proposals to develop social networks that use text messaging. The RFP comes from the Embassy in Kabul, according to NextGov. Text messaging may be the medium available to the highest number of Afghanis, who possess 10 million cell phones. Less developed is the country’s internet infrastructure.
  • For the first time since the Vietnam era, a living soldier might receive the Medal of Honor. The White House is reviewing the Pentagon’s recommendation for a soldier who took on a wall of Taliban fire in Afghanistan, thereby saving the lives of six men. The Washington Post reports the soldier’s name is being withheld and even his family doesn’t know the recommendation has reached the White House. The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for military valor.
  • The FAA has given the green light to a flying car. If you’ve got the big money, you might be able to by a “transition” and start it next year. The car, or plane, depending on how you use it, gets about 30 miles per gallon. It has wings that unfold, and even has airbags! PopularScience.com reports the FAA has classified the transition as a Light Sport Aircraft.

  • More news links

    U.S. Air Force Considers B-1 Bomber Fleet’s Retirement (Time Magazine)

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    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    ** You heard the health care debate. Today, check out the health care Web site — health care dot gov. It’s a online clearinghouse of health insurance plan information. And we’ll talk to the man behind it — Todd Park — the CTO at HHS.

    ** And are you heading to the Mall for the Fourth of July festivities? We’ll hear about the feds who make it all work.

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