Friday Morning Federal Newscast – September 17th

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.

  • Come tax time in 2011, feds will want to mind their P’s and Q’s on their tax forms, especially if either of two bills being proposed by Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn are passed. They would crack down on federal workers, including members of Congress and staff, who cheat on their taxes. Senate Bill 37-90 would make federal employees who have seriously delinquent tax debts ineligible for federal employment. The other bill requires members of Congress to disclose delinquent tax liability, require an ethics inquiry, and garnish the wages of a member with federal tax liability.
  • Thousands more veterans have been hired by federal agencies since last November, thanks, at least in part, to the Veterans Employment Initiative established by Executive Order. A statement from the Office of Personnel Management says Director John Berry delivered the news to members of the President’s Interagency Council on Veterans Employment. Berry says, almost 33,000 veterans were hired in the first six months of this fiscal year. That exceeds last years’ number in the same period by about 3.5 percentage points. Also at the briefing, the council adopted a more aggressive new benchmark for hiring vets across all agencies. The Hiring Percentage Model will guide what each agency’s goals are – based on the current percentage of vets hired, to include disabled veterans. Agencies with lower hiring percentages will have more aggressive goals, but will soon graduate to other tiers based on their performance.
  • Jacob Lew is all but assured his to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. Again. Lew held the job earlier, during the Clinton administration. Senators from both sides of the aisle praised Lew during his nomination hearing Thursday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) came right out and said he would vote to confirm Lew.
  • GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has announced a series of management changes. Chief Human Capital Officer Gail Lovelace is moving on to become the agency’s chief leadership officer after 13 years working in human resources. Tony Costa, from the Public Building Service, will fill her old role in the HR office. And Bill Piatt from the technology strategy part of GSA will move to the administrator’s office. There he’ll work on social media and open government tools.
  • Federal contractors, look out. The House has approved a bill that would force agencies to debar contractors that are caught bribing overseas government officials to win business with other countries. The Overseas Contractor Reform Act would also end existing federal grants and contracts for those contractors and grant recipients. Now, agencies would be able to issue a waiver for the requirement on debarment. GovExec reports they could do that by notifying congress and justifying the decision. The bill now moves to the Senate.
  • Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd says he wishes the administration would name a confirmable candidate to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead, the president named Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren as an advisor to the Treasury secretary, where she can influence how the new agency is set up. Congress Daily reports Dodd says lack of a senate-confirmed director puts the agency at risk. Dodd said he is uncertain whether Warren could have been confirmed, since she was opposed by both Republicans and Democrats.
  • The Government Accountability Office will look into the scientific methods the FBI used when it decided Army scientist Bruce Ivins acted alone in the 2001 anthrax mailings. In a letter to New Jersey Representative Rush Holt, GAO said it will also will examine how effective federal agencies are in monitoring high-containment laboratories in the United States and abroad. The National Academy of Sciences is conducting a separate, independent review of the FBI’s work. That report is due this fall. The GAO says it will review the academy’s work in order to avoid duplication.
  • FDA scientists are chasing egg-borne salmonella up the food chain. Now they’re investigating how the food supply for egg-laying chickens might have been contaminated. The Wall Street Journal reports salmonella was found in the feed at one of the Iowa farms at the center of the recent egg recall. But tests of the plant where the feed was made showed no evidence of the nasty microbes. So now investigators are trying to figure out how the food became contaminated. Wright County Egg isn’t off the hook. The FDA has pointed to an eight-foot-high mixture of chicken manure and mice.
  • NASA has entered a ten year, $15 billion deal with four vendors. It is an umbrella contract that covers 70 rocket launches for research and exploration satellites. The Denver Business Journal reports that the agency can chose among the four companies for launching specific missions: United Launch Alliance, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Orbital Sciences and Space Exploration Technologies, also called “SpaceX.”
  • General Dynamics has won a year-long, $4.7 million contract with the Transportation Security Administration. As TSA moves forward with installing upgraded screening equipment at airports across the country, General Dynamics will help integrate the new equipment and expand the system. The Washington Business Journal reports that the contract covers the first year of a multiyear award for Phase Two of the Security Technology Integrated Program. The total contract value could be worth more than $13 million.
  • A former lobbyist has decided to plead guilty and cooperate in a Justice Department probe. Justice is looking into whether Paul Maglioccetti made campaign donations to members of Congress in return for their directing hundreds of millions of dollars to defense contractors without competitive bidding. Sources tell the AP, Maglioccetti will plead guilty on September 24. Last month, Magliocchetti pleaded not guilty to an 11-count indictment felony indictment.
  • The Washington region has benefited to the tune of $3.7 billion in stimulus spending. Most of the money went to locally-based federal contractors, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.Two thirds of the money went to federal contractors in the District, and in Maryland’s 8th and Virginia’s 8th congressional districts. Much of that was for contracts to help the government manage the rest of the stimulus program. Stimulus got underway with passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009. The Journal evaluated reports filed in the second quarter of 2010.

More news links

Stewart, Colbert announce Washington rallies (CNN)

Saturday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day

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