In Depth Show Blog – March 27

This is the In Depth show blog. Here you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.

Today’s guests:


Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.)

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Cutting service on Saturdays is still on track at the U.S. Postal Service, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donohoe. He’s getting support from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senator Tom Coburn, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But the Government Accountability Office says there’s a problem with the Postal Service’s plan. Congressman Gerry Connolly was the person who asked the GAO to look at the situation. He joined Francis to discuss what the GAO found.

Jim Dyer
Podesta Group

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Budget pressures might completely bypass the Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has approved a bill to try to keep the agency’s budget untouched. Jim Dyer, a principal at Podesta Group, joined Francis to discuss the specifics of the bill and whether it will become a reality.

Cameron Munter
Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Current: Non-resident Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

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A provision in the 2013 spending bill signed into law by President Obama this week, gives the State Department the flexibility to hire security guards at embassies on a best-value basis. A 1990 law had previously required State to accept the lowest bids on security contracts. The law was called into question after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed. Cameron Munter, a former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan and a non-resident fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, spoke with Francis about how the flexibilities will affect security at embassies overseas.

Frank Reeder
Director, Center for Internet Security
National Academy of Public Administration

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Moving from checking off boxes to real information assurance is closer to reality. Five agencies currently making a difference in the cyber arena were called out in a new report by Frank Reeder, director of the Center for Internet Security at the National Academy of Public Administration, helped write the report. He joined Francis to discuss the group’s recommendations and how the success certain agencies are having could be replicated in other areas of government.

Stephen Fuller
Director, Center for Regional Analysis
George Mason University

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Sequestration might not be as bad as some predicted. Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, predicted months ago that two-million jobs would be lost because of sequestration. His analysis came from a study funded by the Aerospace Industries Association. He spoke to WTOP’s Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard about why he’s more optimistic now.

Also on the show:

From Our Reporters:

  • Ever since the Defense Department and the Veterans Affairs Department decided to step back from their approach to building a joint e-health record earlier this year, DoD’s been searching for a new electronic records system. VA’s making the case that DoD should simply adopt the record system VA built, VistA. Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports on the chances of that happening. Read his article and listen to his report.
  • Creativity is an interesting by-product of stress. Federal agencies are learning that during sequestration. Federal employees at the Library of Congress have funneled their furlough pain into a new song. Federal News Radio Senior Correspondent Mike Causey gives Francis the inside scoop on the song. Listen to the interview.

More News:

  • Obama signs bill to avoid government shutdown
  • OPM searches for candid answers from departing SES members
  • Navy announces updated special duty assignment pay rates
  • IRS releases the dirty dozen tax scams for 2013
  • Tuition assistance is being reinstated across the military services. It had been originally halted under sequestration, but was restored under the 2013 funding bill Congress passed last week. Mark Wright, a DoD spokesman, told reporters, “DoD agrees with Congress that the tuition assistance program is very important, both to the department and our service members. Each service is responsible for funding and administering its tuition assistance program in accordance with the DoD tuition assistance policy. We are working with the services to develop a plan to comply with any legislation.”
  • Also on the show today, Francis aired clips from an American Enterprise Institute event last week titled, “Why this defense drawdown must be different for the Pentagon.” Panelists included: Gordon Adams from the Stimson Center, Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Clark Murdock from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Major General Arnold Punaro (Ret.) of the Punaro Group. Mackenzie Eaglen from AEI moderated the discussion. Watch video from the event. Francis also spoke to Punaro after the event. Listen to that interview by clicking here.