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 money-strapped Postal Service freezes hiring and promotions. Published reports indicate the move affects about 8,000 administrative, marketing and legal positions. It also stops field offices from filling 2,000 vacant jobs for postmasters. But it won’t affect letter carriers and customer service jobs. The Postal Service says the freeze will save up to $30 million dollars per quarter.
Meanwhile, the Postal Service has named a new leader for the division that generates most of the agency’s revenue. Paul Vogel takes the helm of Mailing and Shipping Services. There, he’ll lead efforts to increase revenue and to create new products. Previously, Vogel was in charge of the international shipping business. He replaces Bob Bernstock, who resigned in May during an investigation of possible contracting violations.
Every time the government spends more than $500 on anything that isn’t classified, OMB would be required to list it on a website according to a new bill in the House. Once enacted, the Government Online Transparency Act would give the Office of Management and Budget 120 days to set up an easily-accessible public website
The Office of Management and Budget will pay your agency to conduct program evaluations. A new governmentwide memo says the money will be part of the FY 2012 budget process. It’ll go to agencies that can show how their funding priorities are evidence-based or subject to rigorous evaluation. Agencies will also need to describe evaluation programs that are already in their 2012 budget submissions, if those programs cost at least $1 million dollars.
The 40-year-old Ability One program would get an overhaul under a new bill from Representatives Edolphus Towns of New York and Brian Bilbray of California. The bipartisan bill would update the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act, which spawned the Ability One program. Ability One gives training and jobs to 40,000 blind and disabled Americans who manufacture products purchased by the federal government. GovExec reports, the new bill would update AbilityOne’s procurement provisions to make them compatible with the latest laws and regulations. The most visible manifestation of the Abililty One program in most federal offices is the ubiquitous Skilcraft brand of pens.
Could it be another sign the economy is rebounding? Government borrowing is down. The Treasury Department expects to borrow just under $1.5 trillion dollars for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. That’s down nearly 20 percent from last year, when the government borrowed nearly a quarter trillion dollars more. Treasury estimates for quarterly borrowing also dropped by over $25 billion dollars from May. But the current estimate of $350 billion is still the sixth highest quarterly amount in the nation’s history.
You’re about to get a lot more company, if you have a TSP account. Automatic enrollment has officially started for all federal new hires. They’ll be enrolled in the TSP’s G fund with a 3-percent contribution rate. Automatic enrollment is part of a tobacco control law that President Obama signed last year.
New York Senator Charles Schumer plans to compel insurers to pay death benefits to federal and military families in lump sums. A recent Bloomberg story revealed that MetLife and Prudential Financial automatically pay via funds resembling money market accounts and give beneficiaries checkbooks for withdrawing cash. The accounts pay less interest than the principal, held by the insurance company, receives. Beneficiaries may request lump sum payments. Schumer’s bill would reverse that, making lump sums the default method of payment. The Wall Street Journal reports, the insurance commissioner in Connecticut said his office has never received a complain about retained-asset accounts.
Federal insourcing efforts could receive a push from Provisions in the fiscal 2011 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The American Federation of Government Employees says Senators Richard Durbin and Barbara Mikulski introduced language to promote federal employee performance of closely associated inherently governmental functions. That is one of three categories outlined in the Obama Administration’s draft policy. Another provision would require agencies to improve their list of service contractors. And a third rider would ensure equitable treatment of federal employees and contractors in performing functions that are not considered inherently governmental. The Committee passed the spending bill last week and now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
The intelligence community will need to wait for its new spymaster. Republican Senator John McCain has placed a < ?nid=27&sid=2014929" target="_blank">hold on James Clapper’s nomination to be the next director of national intelligence. The Wall Street Journal reports the hold is because of a dispute over contracting practices. Clapper would replace the former intelligence director Dennis Blair, who was ousted from that post in May.
It’s not just human passengers on airplanes that need to pass security, cargo also poses a security threat, and TSA says that it is now screening 100 percent of all cargo traveling on domestic flights. A provision of the 9/11 Act mandated that TSA achieve the 100 percent mark for domestic flights by August 1, 2010. In response, TSA created the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP), which certifies facilities across the country to screen cargo before it reaches the airport. Over 900 facilities nationwide are now certified.
** It’s one of the most controversial provisions of the GSA schedule contracts — the price reduction clause. We’ll have an explainer from the man who literally wrote the book on the GSA schedule contracts.
** And you remember the tragic shooting at Fort Hood last year — we’ll talk to the two people responsible for brining the shooter down.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.