Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – August 24th

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The Food and Drug Administration’s egg recall investigation continues. Meanwhile, USA Today reports the Centers for Disease Control has added 40 more illnesses to the estimated 1,300 since the salmonella outbreak began. The FDA has 20 investigators working to uncover the possible cause of the massive recall involving more than a half billion eggs. The agency is working with the Department of Agriculture in checking a Minnesota hatchery, while investigators continue to check causes of contamination on two Iowa farms. The agency hopes to have information within the week. Meanwhile, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg says you should avoid undercooked eggs. No runny yolks.
  • The White House has added $30 billion worth of IT projects to its high-risk watch list. 26 projects will be reworked or possibly cut. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra says the list is based on reports from inspectors general, auditors and agency CIOs. The White House also used data from the IT Dashboard. The projects range in value from $64 million to $7.6 billion. Department CIOs are expected to submit improvement plans as part of the 2012 budgeting process.
  • The Social Security Administration is looking for an October award for a $2 billion IT support contract. NextGov reports, the contract will be a follow-on to an existing deal with Lockheed Martin. That contract, dating from 2004, is reaching is dollar limit. The new arrangement will cover software development, maintenance, systems administration, data mining, cloud computing and other services. It may be split among two or more companies. The contract will include services to help Social Security reduce its disability claims backlog.
  • The Transportation Department is on the vanguard of a streamlined approach to rule-making. Using an experimental website, regulationroom.org, it’s putting out an easy-to-read summary of a proposed airline passenger rights rule that would otherwise take 24 pages in the Federal Register. Federal Times reports that so far, the short form has received more than 1000 comments from 16,000 visitors. That compares with an average of 50 comments received through the traditional means of rule-making. A spokesman says the experiment will help the department write clearer rules.
  • Can the Small Business Administration handle a wide-scale disaster? The question lingers, five years after Hurricane Katrina. A coalition of business owners who had trouble landing SBA disaster loans after hurricanes Katrina and Rita want Congress to force SBA to reconsider loans that were originally rejected or withdrawn. When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, SBA had only 880 employees to process hundreds of thousands of loan applications. Former SBA loan officers told the AP that work backed up and the phones rang and rang. And, the agency’s new computer system kept crashing.
  • The federal government continues to bring broadband services to rural areas throughout the country. Spacenet Inc, based in McLean, Virginia, has just won a $7.5 million contract to improve broadband Internet access to unserved areas of Alaska and Hawaii. The Washington Business Journal reports Spacenet was awarded federal grant funding from the Rural Utility Service under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Spacenet will offer its “StarBand Open Skies” service for no money down, including equipment and standard installation, and an entry-level monthly service fee of $50.
  • ManTech has a whole new senior management structure in place. The presidents of ManTech’s three operating groups will serve as Chief Operating Officers for their organizations. The three new chief operating officers are: Louis Addeo, ManTech Technical Services Group. He is the former president of AT&T Government Solutions. Terry Ryan, ManTech Systems Engineering and Advanced Technologies. He was director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for the Office of the Department of Defense. L. William Varner, ManTech Mission, Cyber and Technology Solutions. He was vice president of the Intelligence Operations Unit of Northrop Grumman TASC. ManTech’s COO resigned in July. No reason was given for his departure.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration is looking for contractors fluent in Ebonics. The man who coined the term has described it as the combination of English vocabulary with African language structure. And the DEA says it needs nine translators in the Southeast. They’ll help interpret wiretapped conversations that involve undercover drug investigations. The agency has reached out to contractors that provide translation services.
  • Louisiana residents and government officials have been pleading with the federal offshore oil drilling regulator to lift the moratorium in place since the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The answer from Michael Bromwich: Forget about it. Bromwich is the new head of what used to be called the Minerals Management Service, part of Interior. He says he’ll come up with new drilling rules by Halloween, but in the meantime, no exceptions to the ban.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida $75,000 for three violations it found while investigating the death of a whale trainer. The whale mauled and drowned the trainer in February before a horrified audience. OSHA called the violations willful, meaning SeaWorld was indifferent to, or intentionally disregarded, employee safety. It has proposed banning interaction with whales unless there is a protective barrier.
  • An arms dealer who got in trouble with the Army is in custody again, this time for possessing firearms as a convicted felon. The New York Times reports, Efraim Diveroli of Miami Beach was arrested yesterday in Florida. In 2007 he was found to have sold old, corroded, Chinese-made ammunition to the Army under a $300 million contract. He was eventually convicted of fraud and conspiracy. Now the 24-year-old faces numerous new federal charges, and is being held without bail.
  • Kermit the Frog is coming to the Smithsonian. The latest donations to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will include ten puppets created by the late Jim Henson, including the original Kermit the Frog. The Washington Business Journal reports these are the puppets from Henson’s Sam and Friends show, which first aired here, locally, before becoming The Muppets and creating a nationwide sensation. Jane Henson will make the donations at the museum Wednesday morning.

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