Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – July 13

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey said they like the work they’re doing. But less than 40 percent said that managers are promoting feds based on merit. OPM Director John Berry says the survey is designed to help the government identify problem areas.

  • Military pilots could look up and see an Antonov tanker ahead overhead, instead of a Boeing or an Airbus. That’s if a long-shot bidder in the Air Force sweepstakes for 179 new tankers wins the competition. U.S. Aerospace has teamed with Ukraine-based Antonov to join the two major plane-makers. Now there’s a three-way competition. The newcomer is bidding $150 million per plane, or a total of $29.6 billion, including research and development costs. Parts would be made in Ukraine, but assembled in the U.S.
  • We knew it was coming…we just didn’t know where, but Northrop Grumman says its new headquarters will be in Falls Church, Virginia. The company chose a 333,000 square-foot building, currently owned by Verizon Wireless. Northrop announced in January that it was moving its corporate offices to the Washington, D.C., area to be closer to government customers. In April, Virginia beat out Maryland and Washington, D.C, in an tax incentives battle to land the new office. The company has said that about 300 jobs are associated with the move. Some will relocate from California, while others will be new hires.
  • It’s finally here: A new Web site for all of your TSP needs. The TSP.gov revamp lets you log into your account directly from the homepage using a user ID or your account number. It also includes new planning tools for retirement, and easy-to-find information about other life-changing events like marriage and divorce. The site’s launch had been delayed, because of worries it would not be able to handle an expected surge in traffic.
  • The Secure Border Initiative is hit for poor contractor oversight. A new Homeland Security inspector general Wall Street Journal.
  • They’re not saying who is being served, but the Federal Housing Finance Agency is issuing 64 subpoenas to various entities. They want documents related to private-label mortgage-backed securities, in which both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invested. The Washington Business Journal reports the FHFA took the action when Fannie and Freddie were unable to obtain the documents, which are part of an investigation into whether those entities are liable for losses Fannie and Freddie suffered.
  • BGE has resubmitted its smart grid proposal. The utility’s original proposal was rejected in June. The Maryland Public Service Commission didn’t like how Baltimore Gas and Electric planned to pay for the project, saying that the customers would have to foot too much of the bill. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that instead of a surcharge on your bill, BGE will raise the majority of the money they need through its normal electric distribution rates. They hope this resubmission will get the project moving again by the end of the month. Otherwise, they risk losing a $200 million federal stimulus grant from the Department of Energy.
  • Federal agencies have been slow to recruit military spouses using a new hiring authority. OPM says that agencies added just 61 military spouses in the first quarter of fiscal 2010. Federal Times reports that all but three of those were hired by the Defense Department. The new authority lets the government skip the normal competitive hiring process for military spouses who have moved because of a change in station. Agencies can also use it if the service member has been killed or completely disabled because of active duty.
  • The Agriculture Department is stocking its so-called “Doomsday Seed Vault.” The agency’s Agricultural Research Service says they’re storing seeds for a half million varieties of crops. The vault is in a frozen mountain near the North Pole. But they’re not just doing it in case of natural or man-made disaster. Researchers tell our sister station WTOP that this is a matter of banking genetic material to preserve the past for the present and future, in addition to protecting global food supplies.
  • A Nobel Prize winner takes charge at the National Cancer Institute. Harold Varmus was sworn in as National Cancer Institute’s 14th Director just this morning. His new agency is part of the National Institutes of Health — which Varmus led for most of the 1990s. Varmus is one of two people who received a 1989 Nobel prize for work that focused on the genetic basis of cancer
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