Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – Nov. 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Here’s your chance to pick a winner for the 2010 White House SAVE award. The administration has chosen four finalists. Those entries would: Stop the agriculture department from using express mail for empty containers. Require mine operators to send safety reports online instead of thru the mail. Post public notice of seized property online instead of in newspapers. And end the mailing of federal registers to government employees. Voting has started.
  • CIA director Leon Panetta is warning workers at his agency against leaking classified information. He says the agency will fully investigate a spate of leaks made in recent months. A memo to workers isn’t specific about all the cases the agency will probe, but it does cite WikiLeaks as an example. Panetta says leaks could jeopardize lives and that they’ll be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
  • His plan was to bomb Metro. Today he is expected in federal court. The Pakistani-born U.S. citizen was arrested last month after being targeted in a federal sting operation. Authorities say Farooque Ahmed plotted with people he thought were al-Qaida members to conduct bombings at D-C Metrorail stations. Ahmed is expected to enter a not guilty plea at today’s arraignment, and a judge will set a trial date.
  • Major private security contractors have signed a code of conduct. They’re pledging to respect human rights and the rule of law in conflict zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Early signers include DynCorp International, G4S and Xe Services, formerly Blackwater Worldwide. Signings took place yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland. The code was developed by industry and government representatives. It requires companies to ensure their employees try to avoid the use of force. It also forbids mistreatment of detainees, sexual exploitation and forced labor. Signatories, non-governmental groups and governments who employ them still have to agree how compliance will be monitored and by whom.
  • Trouble for GSA in Kansas City. A scathing report by the Office of the Inspector General of the General Services Administration says the agency misled the public about the safety of one of its buildings, and that there was lax oversight at the Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Missouri. The Bannister Federal Complex has a history of contamination problems. For decades, a wall has separated GSA offices from the area where nuclear-bomb parts are manufactured. The Kansas City Star reports that the I-G found several instances in which the region’s Public Building Service knew about hazards at the site but was slow to fix them. The report finds that not only did PBS fail to keep workers safe at the complex before 2010, it released incorrect information about the safety of the facility. Former regional administrator Brad Scott, who was in office during the years that the report covers, had no direct comment about the report.
  • Just because you have to follow a mandate doesn’t mean your agency – or your office – is making it a priority. That’s the finding of a new survey by CDW, which finds that energy efficiency might be a top driver for IT this year. But not all federal managers are investing in green IT first. The report from CDW shows that 75-percent of the federal IT professionals surveyed said that they have programs in place, or are developing programs, to manage energy use in IT. But dig a little deeper and the survey shows that managers feel they don’t have the budget to invest in green IT systems. They also find that senior management gives higher priority to investments in other areas of the organization.
  • NASA has selected 13 companies to come up with ideas for how to get people and equipment into space. The companies were given a total of $7.5 million in grants to develop their ideas for heavy lift systems. From the 13 submissions, NASA will later choose companies to further analyze and test their ideas. Doug Cooke is associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. He says NASA is looking for affordable propulsion systems to reach the moon, asteroids and other destinations beyond low earth orbit.
  • When filing tax returns, you must use what’s called a Taxpayer Identification Number, or TIN — usually that’s your Social Security number. If someone doesn’t have one, the IRS issues a TIN, which can only be used on one tax return per year. For 2007 taxes, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has found something isn’t adding up: The IRS issued 2.4 million TINs which were then used on 3.2 million returns. The result, says TIGTA, was a loss of $380 million for that year. Over five years, that could total $1.9 billion.
  • A federal judge has dismissed part of the government’s fraud suit against Oracle. The suit alleges that Oracle overcharged the government for software over a number of years. But PC World reports the judge has thrown out a number of claims tied to specific dates in the late 1990s and and early part of this decade. Oracle says the statute of limitations for many of them has expired. The government might have a chance, though, on other claims. It has until November 16th to file an amended complaint.
  • The Food and Drug Administration appeared to play favorites in granting a Boston company the rights to sell a generic drug. That’s according to a new Government Accountability Office report, to be released today. The Wall Street Journal reports, Momenta Pharmaceuticals did free work for the FDA in 2008, during the Chinese imported drug scare. Last July, FDA chose Momenta over two rivals for rights to sell a blood thinner. The GAO report will state that FDA risked undermining public confidence in its integrity.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department is joining the ranks of agencies that blog. VA’s first blog, dubbed Vantage Point, launched this week. The first couple of entries have garnered hundreds of mostly positive comments. It is edited by Brandon Friedman, VA’s director of new media. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says the blog is a natural extension of VA’s other online ways of reaching veterans and their families. Two VA staff members will contribute to Vantage Point daily. The blog will also accept comments as well as outside contributions.
  • Hide the cookies. Websites across the country are cracking down on internet tracking technology — like so-called “cookies” — that monitor people’s activities online. Many sites are trying to keep the data in-house out of fears of raising privacy concerns for their users. The Wall Street Journal reports some sites have dropped companies that install tracking tools. Others are moving to sell more ads themselves, relying less on online ads that install tracking software.

More news links

Hoyer running for whip in showdown with Clyburn

Spill panel: No evidence of saving $ over safety

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Defense closing at Guantanamo detainee’s NY trial

Health-care providers treating federal employees may be required to have an affirmative action plan (Lexology.com)

Gates: US open to request from Iraq to stay

THIS AFTERNOON ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** The tanker contract — the procurement has been doing on for a decade. And it has cost a CEO his job, sent two officials to jail. Are there lessons learned from the tanker saga?

** And cloud computing — agencies are looking at the cloud computing. The challenge — security and privacy. We’ll talk to a Brookings scholar who argues the weak link in security is people.

this afternoon… 3-7…on the Dorobek Insider… It’s right here on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and federal news radio dot com.