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.
- Time to put that Continuity of Operations Plan to work at the Commerce Department. A fire at the Commerce’s Hoover building last night has forced that building to be shut down today. That means anyone who works there is authorized to take administrative leave. You’re encouraged to telework today. “Emergency” employees still have to come in.
- Federal employees will pay higher premiums for vision and dental insurance next year. The Office of Personnel Management says dental premiums will rise 3.8 percent, and vision insurance 3 percent. The news comes on top of a 7.2 percent average hike for health insurance. OPM also said benefits under the vision and dental plans won’t change.
- Congress is getting another warning about a delayed, but impending government brain drain. Outgoing Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware is warning his fellow lawmakers they’ll need to act soon to address the loss of tens of thousands of experienced federal workers as they prepare to retire. Kaufman says in today’s WashingtonPost Federal Eye the anticipated tsunami of retirements has not happened because of the sluggish economy. He warns, it will begin to happen as the economy improves.
- The CIA finally has a permanent Inspector General. David Buckley started work this week, filling a post was empty for a year and a half. The last IG, John Helgerson, left in March 2009. Buckley is a former Air Force special agent. He also worked on the House intelligence committee, the Senate investigations subcommittee and inspector general offices at Treasury and the Pentagon. President Obama nominated Buckley in August, and the Senate confirmed him last week.
- The federal government is working with three private companies to fight dengue fever and anthrax. NIH has announced three contracts worth up to $68 million with Emergent Biolsolutions, PaxVax, and Inviragen. The companies will use the money to develop better vaccines, including needle-free systems. Researchers with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases say that the work will improve vaccine delivery and find ways to stimulate the immune system.
- The Social Security Administration sent about 89,000 stimulus payments to people either dead or in jail. But half of the $250 checks were returned, according to a new inspector-general report. SSA made the one-time payments as part of the February 2009 stimulus bill. The IG said 72,000 payments were sent electronically. Some of the dead recipients would have been qualified had they been alive. 17,000 of payments went to inmates.
- Federal News Radio told you that the Interior Department as approved some solar projects, now Bechtel says it’ll be hiring more people to help with at least one of them. The San Francisco Business Times reports that Bechtel will bring on another thousand jobs for the Ivanpah solar project, which got final approval from the federal government this week. The Solar Energy Generating System will cover about five square miles of desert. In addition to the plant itself, they also have to build access roads and install power lines. Now that all licenses have been issued, Bechtel can start building.
- Electric cars are darlings of the federal government. The first all-electric car from a major nameplate goes on sale in December, and it will be showered with federal subsidies. The New York Times reports, the Nissan Leaf will receive a 7,500 dollar tax credit and a 3,000 dollar charger from the Energy Department. States are throwing in goodies, too. Tennessee, for example, is giving Leaf buyers a 2,500 dollar cash rebate. Not that buyers need all the largesse. Nissan expects the Leaf buyers to mostly be affluent and college-educated.
More news links
Congressional estimate: $1.3T deficit for 2010
Republicans gearing up for major changes to federal pay and benefits
Senate report slams Afghan security contractors
General Dynamics unit wins $401M Navy contract
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** Big changes in the Defense Department’s IT organization. Dave Wennergren has been serving as the DOD deputy CIO. He just got a new job and he’ll tell us about it.
** And we’ll wrap up our series the Greening of Government. We’ll give you a audio tour of GSA’s new carbon footprint tool that let’s you calculate your greenness.
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