Wednesday morning federal headlines – August 17

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 Office of Personnel Management has approved buyouts and early retirements for employees at the Government Accountability Office. GAO wants to cut 56 managerial positions. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro announces, employees who opt for buyouts will receive a lump sum of up to 25-thousand dollars. Meanwhile, Federal Times reported that GAO has also drafted a plan for office closures and outright layoffs in anticipation of deep budget cuts in 2012. GovExec reports the Library of Congress is working with three of its employee unions on a buyout plan. More than a dozen agencies are offering buyouts. Click here for the full list, so far.
  • Defense contractor General Dynamics Information Technoloy is expanding its health IT business. The company is shelling out $960 million in cash to buy Vangent Holding Corporation. Vangent primarily works with the Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, State and Defense Departments, providing a health information exchange, electronic health records and data analytics. It has more than 7,500 employees. General Dynamics said the deal has been approved by its board and expects the purchase to close by Oct.1. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Secretary said Congress needs to look at the entire federal budget if it is to make significant cuts. And, that includes the Defense budget. Secretary Leon Panetta made his remarks during a visit to National Defense University, where he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked with students at the National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair. Panetta said Defense can handle the proposed $350 billion dollar cuts proposed in the debt-ceiling deal, according to But, he said, if Congress can’t agree on further reductions, the Pentagon faces another $500 billion in cuts. (Defense Department)
  • The Army has resumed migrating 1.4 million email users to a new cloud system. It had interrupted the process for a month while technicians dealt with problems with the existing network that were preventing smooth migration. Mike Krieger, the Army’s deputy CIO, said moving email to the cloud is only the start of a bigger strategy, adding that the migration could sweep in a new wave of services enabled by a clean, new network. Microsoft Sharepoint will replace an older portal called Army Knowledge Online. (Federal News Radio)
  • Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have ended up in the hands of the Taliban and various criminals, according to a task force examining support and reconstruction contracting in Afghanistan. It found $360 million has gone to extortionists, bribe-takers and power brokers. The report showed how little visibility coalition forces have into a wide network of subcontractors. Investigators described what they called reverse money laundering occuring on a vast scale. General David Petraeus, now the CIA director, convened the task force last year, and the Associated Press obtained drafts of its report. (Federal News Radio)
  • Just a day after GTSI announced a 40 percent dip in revenue for the second quarter of 2011, the federal contractor announced it’s buying Information Systems Consulting Group. The Washington Business Journal reports GTSI has been trying to transform itself from a product reseller to a services provider. InSysCo is a small business that provides software development and support services to civilian agencies. It just won a prime spot under the Treasury Department’s 10-year, $$ billion dollar ‘Total Information Processing Support Services 4’ contracting vehicle. No word yet on the cost of GTSI’s purchase, however it is considered a bold move to move GTSI past its temporary suspension from federal contracting in October 2010. (Washington Business Journal)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department wants its employees to use social media, and it has issued a new policy encouraging them to adopt Web-based collaboration tools. Secretary Eric Shinseki said VA wants to boost what he calls “informed participation” by the public by, for example, making it easier for veterans to find VA information more accessible. VA has more than 100 Facebook pages, 50 Twitter feeds and two blogs. And by the end of this year, the department expects to have a Facebook page and Twitter feed for all 152 medical centers. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal highway officials have abandoned a plan to regulate farmers who drive tractors and combines on highways and rural roads. A flood of complaints hit the Transportation Department from farmers and members of Congress from rural areas. The proposed rule would have required farmers to get licenses similar to those required of interstate, commercial truck drivers. Farmers feared costly work rules and training. They said the rules would have made it harder to find help. That’s because many teens who work on family farms are too young to get a commercial license. (Federal News Radio)
  • The wage gap between the sexes is on the decline among federal employees — but that number remains high for the private sector. The Office of Personnel Management and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said gender wage gap for federal employees went down from 28 cents in 1987 to 11 cents in 2007. However, that gap is much larger for women in the private sector — about 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, and even lower numbers for African American women and Latinas. OPM and EEOC issud a memo saying they are working to enforce equal pay laws across the spectrum. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Treasury Department said it has approved funding that will help spur more than $3.6 billion dollars in extra small-business lending. So far, 11 states and the District of Columbia will have access to the funds, which are made available through the Small Business Credit Initiative — part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Barack Obama signed into law last fall. Treasury said the funds will not only expand small-business lending, but hopefully spur job growth also. The agency expects the funds to generate at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding. (Treasury Department)