Friday Morning Federal Newscast – September 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 new administrator of the Transportation Security Administration say he’s giving 10,000 of the agency’s employees access to secret intelligence information. He wants them to be better able to detect threats and stop terrorists. John Pistole tells an aviation luncheon he considers TSA a counterterrorism agency, and employees need more information to inform their judgment and decision-making. The former FBI deputy director was confirmed to head TSA in June.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about to reorganize. It is preparing to ask Congress to redirect several hundred million dollars to form a national climate service. Federal Times reports the project has been delayed pending congressionally-mandated analysis by the National Academy of Public Administration. NOAA plans to consolidate several organizations, including the National Climatic Data Center and the Earth System Research Lab. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has already named six regional climate directors.
  • Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has blocked consideration of a food safety bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to prevent foodborne illness. The legislation would give the agency more power to recall tainted products, increase inspections of food processors and require producers to follow stricter standards for keeping food safe. Coburn, a Republican, says he is objecting because the bill is not paid for.
  • Opposition mounts for the president’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu says she will block Jacob Lew’s confirmation until the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is lifted or eased. Landrieu says that Lew has the skills to serve as OMB director, but that he lacks enough concern for the economic problems facing the Gulf Coast. On Tuesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also announced that he would vote against Lew’s nomination.
  • The Defense Department has reassigned the head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Colonel Robert Saum, under investigation for workplace complaints filed against him, now has another job within the Tricare Management Activity. Saum has been replaced by Doctor Michael Kilpratick, the director of force health protection and readiness programs for the Military Health System.
  • Four senators are urging President Obama to fire Arnold Fields, the Special Inspector General overseeing contracting in Afghanistan. In a letter, they said Fields’ organization is failing and he should be replaced. The senators said three independent reviews of Fields’ office found multiple problems, including a failure to meet minimum standards for conducting investigations. Calling for Fields’ ouster are Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine.
  • The General Services Administration awarded a $2.6 billion contract to Northrop Grumman Information Technology to wire the new headquarters of the Homeland Security Department. The 10-year task order is aimed at equipping the Southeast D.C. campus with an up-to-date IT infrastructure. The project is located at the site of the defunct Saint Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital. GSA describes the construction as the most complex in its history, and the largest federal construction project in the Washington area since the Pentagon was built in the 1940s.
  • Lockheed Martin has agreed to build 32 Joint Strike Fighters, and absorb some of any cost increases. Bloomberg news reports the Defense Department order could be valued at more than $5 billion. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive U.S. weapons program. Costs have ballooned to more than $382 billion. There have also been delays, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the federal government might withhold $614 million in fees. The contract will include for the first time all three variants of the fighter jet: the conventional take-off, short take-off and aircraft-carrier models.
  • New research indicates that one in three mobile workers exhibit Web habits that could be harmful to your networks. The study from Message Labs says that teleworkers are twice as likely to try to access blocked streaming content than workers in the office. But office-bound employees are more likely to try for adult-sites.
  • The House has approved aid for small businesses. The bill will now go to President Obama. The president strongly supports the $30 billion lending bill, which includes tax breaks for struggling small businesses. Supporters call it a jobs bill. Republican critics say it is another government bailout. It establishes a fund to help Main Street banks lend to small businesses and cut taxes on both big and small businesses. The legislation is aimed at easing a small-business credit crunch that worsened dramatically after the financial crisis two years ago.
  • The House has joined the Senate in voting to repeal a section of the new financial overhaul bill. If signed by President Obama, the new measure would strip the Securities and Exchange Commission of the power to keep secret, information it obtains during investigations. The Wall Street Journal reports, SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro is arguing to keep the law as it is. She worries confidential corporate information would be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Fannie Mae wants to unload all those houses it’s stuck with, and its offering incentives to both buyers and real estate agents to move them. The Washington Business Journal reports if you buy a house in foreclosure that Fannie Mae is holding, it will give you up to 3.5 percent of the final selling price back to be applied toward closing costs or a home warranty. It is also offering real estate agents and brokers a $1,500 bonus if they bring a buyer to the table. Fannie Mae-owned properties are being marketed through a program it calls HomePath.
  • They were supposed to come home this morning. But three astronauts onboard the International Space Station had to delay their return trip to Earth. Tracy Caldwell-Dyson of the U.S, and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko were supposed to land early this morning in Kazakhstan. But the crew ran into some problems. A NASA spokesman says undocking was pushed back by at least three hours because of problems opening hooks and latches on the space station side of the capsule.
  • We’ve told you about the Office of Personnel Management’s Cybersecurity survey. Now OPM is expanding it to include 12 job classifications. Those include Security Administrators, Human Resource Managers, and Accountants. They’re putting the survey up on their Personnel Decisions Research Institutes (or PDRI) website. That’ll be available for two weeks from the day workers get their invitation email.
  • The Army National Guard prepares for its first Muslim chaplain. First Lieutenant Rafael Lantigua will take that job in December of 2011. He’s got a diverse religious background. His mother is Baptist. His father is Roman Catholic. And his step-dad? He’s Buddhist. Lantigua is in the process of finishing up some classes required by the Armed Services Chaplain Board.

More news links

Department of Energy Joins U.S. Civilian Response Corps (State press release)

`Secure zone’ suggested to counter computer threat

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Commerce chief: Fishery penalties to be reviewed

Fresh off farm gig, comedian Colbert set for House hearing (CNN)

THIS AFTERNOON ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Thomas has been opening up government before open government was cool. The Library of Congress site has made legislation available online since 1995. We’ll talk to the team behind the site’s recent renovation.

** And a lot of focus on managing the younger generation, but what about managing older workers? We’ll talk to an expert who has studied how to do it effectively.

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