Friday morning federal headlines – August 12

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The Postal Service is considering cutting up to 120,000 jobs. The agency also wants to pull workers out of the current retirement and health benefit plans, and set up its own system.The Postal Service has already said that by next month it would be insolvent and is facing a second year of losses of more than $8 billion. In addition, it said it couldn’t pay the outstanding bill of $5.5 billion — due next month — to fund employees’ benefits. It stopped paying into the pension fund in June. (Federal News Radio)
  • A multibillion dollar Veterans Affairs IT contract is under seige. Days after IBM filed a protest with GAO, two more vendors have also filed protests. A third vendor sent a complaint to the Court of Federal Claims. The latest protestors are General Dynamics IT, Standard Communications and D&S Consultants. VA awarded contracts to 14 vendors in July under its Transformation 21 Total Technology program, or T-4, which has a $12 billion ceiling. However, despite the protests, sources told Federal News Radio that VA has already awarded non-competitive bids worth at least $65 million under T4. A VA spokesman said the awards are legal and routine. (Federal News Radio)
  • More changes are coming to the post-9/11 GI Bill, the Defense Department announced. Veterans Affairs says round three of the bill, which will allow eligible students to use the GI Bill to pay for more of their education and training programs, will launch in October. Starting then, the GI Bill will also offer a housing allowance for students who are enrolled in distance learning, but aren’t on active duty. So far, more than 537,000 students have received more than $11.5 billion in GI benefits. (Defense Department)
  • The Labor Department has floated a plan to collect data on salaries, wages and benefits paid to employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. The proposed rule comes from Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Labor said the rule would help root out discriminatory pay practices, and it estimated 22 percent of the U.S. workforce is comprised of government contractor employees. The rule would reinforce a presidential order dating to the Lyndon Johnson administration. The compliance office plans to hold webinars to explain the rule and seek comments. (Federal News Radio)
  • Lawmakers are looking for more information about Operation Shady Rat — the cyber attack that targeted more than 70 government organizations and companies in 14 countries. Security firm McAfee identified the attack and, now, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) wants a briefing. The Hill reports that she wants to know — among other things — whether public disclosure would help or hurt efforts to combat cybercrime. Bono Mack is the sponsor of the SAFE Data Act, which would require companies to notify consumers if their personal information is breached. (The Hill)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is planning an outsourced, virtual data center, NextGov reports. Pre-solicitation notices in FedBizOpps call for a 10-year project under which contractors would build, host and manage the data center. CMS will hold an August 26 webinar to explain what it’s up to. Virtualizing data centers is a way to operate them on fewer servers using less space and electricity, and when they’re virtualized, data centers are easier to consolidate. The Office of Management and Budget has ordered federal agencies to reduce the number of data centers they operate. (NextGov)
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has chosen three House members to round out the 12-member super committee called for in the debt ceiling compromise bill. The three additional members are James Clyburn of South Carolina, Xavier Becerra of California and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. The committee now has six senators and six representatives, divided equally between the two parties. It has until Nov. 23 to propose $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years. If committee members can’t agree, automatic across-the-board agency cuts kick in under a process known as sequestration. (Federal News Radio)
  • Technology contractor, 2020 Co. LLC, has won a series of task orders with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a combined value worth some $32 million, Washington Technology reports. The firm was awarded under the CDC Information Management Services contract. 2020 will provide public health research, data analysis, systems operations and maintenance, and IT support. (Washington Technology)
  • Apple’s OS 10 operating system has long enjoyed the reputation of having fewer cybersecurity weaknesses than Microsoft Windows. But that reputation may be undeserved. At the recent Black Hat cyber conference, a proof-of-concept demonstration exposed many security holes in OS 10, according to a posting on InfoWorld. The blogosphere was also set abuzz when an anonymous blogger at InfoWorld claimed Microsoft does a better job than Apple of protecting its customers, and that Windows 7 has fewer security holes than OS Ten. But, the writer discloses, he’s a senior security architect for Microsoft. (InfoWorld)
  • A new world class hotel has opened in Bethesda. Injured war veterans joined military leaders to cut the ribbon at the Wounded Warrior Barracks at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. Admiral Matt Nathan, commander of the National Naval Medical Center, called the new barracks world-class hotelling for the wounded. Patients from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington will move to the new facilities over the next two weeks. The residential suites are specially equipped for those in wheelchairs or who have prosthetics. They also have queen-size beds, flat-screen TVs, online computers and kitchens. (Federal News Radio)