Tuesday morning federal headlines – August 9

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.

  • A new bill in the House would authorize back pay for furloughed FAA employees, GovExec reports. Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo is expected to introduce the measure today. No retroactive pay was included for furloughed employees in the law passed last week extending the FAA’s authorization through mid-September. That law did authorize retroactive pay and reimbursements for essential employees that worked through the shutdown including forty airport safety inspectors. The four thousand furloughed employees returned to work yesterday ending the two week partial shutdown. (GovExec)
  • Traffic patterns across our region will start changing this week, thanks to BRAC. The military base realignment is sending 6,400 more Defense Department employees to the Mark Center in Alexandria, Va. That move starts now, and will be completed this fall. WTOP reports that Virginia has set up a Traffic Management Task Force to deal with the congestion in real time by monitoring traffic flow and adjusting the traffic signals based on the actual conditions. The commonwealth will also spend $80 million dollars on a ramp for improved access for motorists, while DoD is spending $20 million for the construction of short-term improvements including a turn lane, ramp widening and pedestrian improvements on nearby roads. (WTOP)
  • First it was the F-22. Now some senators want to kill the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, GovExec reports. Outgoing Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn has warned lawmakers against that move in part because contract termination costs with Lockheed Martin and Pratt and Whitney would be expensive, he said. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) threatened to amend the defense authorization bill with a clause that would end the program if costs rise too much more. (GovExec)
  • Agency chief information officers are getting more budget authority. Under a new Office of Management and Budget directive, CIOs will have the power of the purse for billions of dollars in annual commodity IT purchases. Commodities are defined as anything from notebook PCs to data center services. OMB Director Jacob Lew also ordered CIOs to use shared services whenever possible. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House of Representatives may be old, but it’s not sentimental. After nearly 200 years, it’s killing off its pages program. Since the 1920s, high school students have been plying the corridors of Capitol Hill, delivering messages and papers. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told House members they can no longer justify the $5 million annual cost of the program and that thanks to the rise of electronic communications, pages no longer have enough to do. The program ends August 31 in the House only. The Senate is keeping its messengers. (Federal News Radio)
  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight committee, has subpoenaed documents from the National Labor Relations Board concerning the NLRB’s lawsuit against Boeing. The government is trying to stop Boeing from building a new airplane factory in South Carolina because it claims the company is punishing its unionized workforce by expanding work in a “right-to-work” state. Boeing has vigorously disputed that claim. The lawsuit has attracted widespread political attention. Issa, a critic of the NLRB, said the lawsuit hobbles the nation’s largest exporter at a time of high unemployment. An NLRB spokesman said the agency has already sent 1,000 pages and will send more as the trial progresses. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Education Department is offering buyouts and early retirement to employees beginning next month. Employees in 12 different program offices will have the option to voluntarily separate or take a retirement buy-out through January of next year. GovExec reports, this is the second round of buy-outs and early outs at the department this year. (GovExec)
  • The remains of the 30 U.S. troops killed when a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan will arrive at Dover Air Force Base today, the Associated Press reports. But Pentagon officials said there won’t be public media coverage of the military’s “dignified transfer” ceremony because the remains are still being identified. Families are allowed to attend the arrival. NATO said the Chinook helicopter carrying the troops was shot down by an insurgent armed with a rocket-propelled grenade. (AP)

    Most folks at DefCon fit the typical hacker profile — young adult males. But a 10-year old girl stole the show over the weekend. The girl who goes by the handle CyFi told the DefCon Kids crowd that she had discovered a bug in several games for Apple and Android smartphones, CNET reports. (CNET)

  • Months after the “death” of the Mars rover, Spirit, its surviving twin is about to begin a new round of exploration, the AP reports. Opportunity, a new rover, is approaching the edge of a huge crater on Mars called Endeavour and will spend the next few months imaging the rim and interior and looking for clay minerals that would’ve formed under wet conditions. (AP)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have identified a wave of orange, bubbly goo that engulfed the shoreline of Kivalina, Alaska recently. The scientists discovered the goo was made of microscopic eggs filled with fatty droplets. But the feds aren’t sure what species the eggs come from or whether they are poisonous. The mess has dissipated, but samples are being sent to a NOAA facility in Charleston, S.C. for further analysis. (Federal News Radio)