Monday Morning Federal Newscast – August 9th

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a bill that could slim the government’s workforce. The Reduce and Cap Federal Workforce Act would bring down and freeze the number of civilian feds at February of 2009 levels. Agencies would need to make those reductions through attrition. The bill would exempt the Defense and Homeland Security departments and some intelligence agencies. Hatch says the government has become bloated, and his bill would cut it down to size.
  • In one of his first acts as Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper confirms the end of performance-based pay for intelligence workers, reports GovExec. For now, at least. The only exception will be those in the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Everyone else exits the vestiges of the National Security Personnal System. They join a compensation plan that more closely resembles the General Schedule system. Clapper promises no one will have a pay cut. In a memo, Clapper says the Defense Department isn’t giving up on the concept of pay for performance.
  • More than 50 nominations made it through, but the Senate has sent 13 back to the White House. That means they have to be renominated. Congress Daily reports that Senate rules require dropping nominations during an adjournment if there is no agreement to keep them on the calendar. The 13 include Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald Berwick and National Labor Relations Board member Craig Becker. No word whether the nominees will be nominated again.
  • Two intelligence veterans are moving up in the ranks. President Obama has nominated David B. Buckley to be inspector general at the CIA. Currently a senior manager for Deloitte Consulting, Buckley was chief investigator for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He was also the special assistant for the inspector general at the Defense Department. And Letitia A. Long today becomes director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Ceremonies will take place at the agency’s half-built, high-tech campus in Springfield. Long, a 32-year veteran of federal service, was deputy director of Naval Intelligence, and deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. She’s the first woman to head an intelligence agency.
  • The Postal Service is doing its annual dance with Congress. It’s asking for a reduction of $4 billion dollars in the amount it must contribute to its Retiree Health Benefits Fund, reports FederalTimes. The payment is due next month. Federal law requires the Postal Service to contribute $5.5 billion dollars to the fund annually. Last year the Postal Service was able to defer most of that and contribute $1.4 billion dollars. It is asking lawmakers for a similar reduction this year. Postal authorities believe the annual obligation amounts to overfunding of health benefits. The Postal Service has been running multi-billion-dollar deficits.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is betting on Providence, Rhode Island, to help speed decisions on claims for disability benefits. VA has chosen its regional benefits office there to test a paperless processing system. The pilot is expected to start in November and finish in May of 2011. It’s part of a larger project to move all 57 regional offices to a paperless system. VA says it will spend $70 billion dollars this year on benefits to Vets, their families and survivors.
  • Senate appropriators have approved more 2011 money for agency Web services innovations. But they’ve slashed the administration’s request for data center consolidation and cloud computing. NextGov reports, in a spending bill approved before it recessed, the Senate Appropriations Committee cleared 40 million dollars to develop new online applications. But the administration’s request for another $35 million for consolidation was cut to $20 million. The House Appropriations Committee has not yet acted on IT requests for 2011.
  • The Federal Communications Commission will stick with the regulatory route to controlling broadband, after attempts at legislation broke down. FCC commissioners last week called off talks with stakeholders in crafting a narrowly focused telecommunications bill. That move came when the FCC found that Verizon and Google were in private talks over the handling of Google’s YouTube traffic over Verizon’s infrastructure. NextGov reports, the FCC had been working with lawmakers, principally Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. The goal had been to help the FCC overcome a court decision that set back its ability to regulate the internet.
  • More than a dozen technology companies in northern Virginia are offering to help sort out the burial records mess at Arlington National Cemetary. And, the Army is going to accept their offer. The 15 firms are all members of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. They’re offering their services for free, after an Army probe turned up a sloppy record system and mislabeled graves. The Washington Business Journal reports the group will gauge the site’s information technology challenges and begin digitizing the documents.

More news links

Unisys protest of TSA contract denied (WashingtonPost)

Former HHS secretary questioned at Israeli airport


House members scurry back to pass jobs bill

Medicare’s private eyes let fraud cases get cold

Statue of Liberty to get new staircase for safety

Forced to retire, some take Social Security early

Hawaii sugar grower working to power Navy


Coming up today on In Depth with Francis Rose:

An In Depth Conversation, “Measuring agency performance: setting the metrics” with:

  • Jon Desenberg, Performance Institute
  • John Kamensky, Senior Research Fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government; former deputy director of National Partnership for Reinventing Government
  • Robert Shea, Grant Thornton; former Associate Administrator for Management, OMB

Join Francis and guests from 1 to 3 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.