Federal Newscast – June 21, 2011

  • The Senate has unanimously confirmed CIA Director Leon Panetta as the new Secretary of Defense. Panetta will take the place of Robert Gates, who is stepping down at the end of the month. Panetta is leaving his job as director of the CIA to take this position.
  • The Congressional Research Service says the president may have the authority to require federal contractors to disclose political donations. CRS says requirements of a particular executive order have been found invalid when they conflict with other provisions of law. CRS also says courts have emphasized that federal contracting is voluntary, so if a company doesn’t like the rules, it doesn’t have to participate.
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has introduced a bill to improve tracking of federal spending. It’s called the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA). DATA would establish a website to consolidate spending information from all federal agencies. It would also set up a standard reporting format that agencies would use to report their funding activities. The bill is the Senate version of one introduced last week in the House by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.).
  • Former Postmaster General John Potter is expected to be selected as the next head of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. According to Federal News Radio sister station WTOP, Potter will take over as head of the Authority during a critical time. The Airports Authority is currently in charge of building the Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport.