Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – May 6th, 2010

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear unable to come up with strong pilot proposals in time for this month’s original deadline. The pilots will eventually test whether unions and federal managers are able to bargain over issues such as numbers of employees assigned to projects, what technology is used, and work methods.

  • The House will vote today on a measure to make the government’s telework policy law. The 2009 Telework Improvements Act would require agencies to let eligible employees work from remote locations at least 20 percent of the time. It would also require more training for managers and supervisors on telework. An amendment offered by Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly would mandate that agencies include flexible scheduling and telework in their emergency plans.
  • Computer glitches are driving up costs for the 2010 Census. A new audit from the Commerce Department inspector general’s office finds frequent outages in a Census Bureau computer system are requiring overtime to deal with the problem. The outages caused a 40-hour backlog of work over two weeks in April. They could also put the accuracy of the census at risk.
  • A House panel approves a bill that would make permanent the federal Chief Technology Officer and Cyber Coordinator positions. Right now, a president can eliminate those jobs at will. NextGov reports the measure is part of an amendment to the Federal Information Security Amendments Act. The bill now moves to the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
  • Federal regulators plan to impose some additional rules on broadband providers to make sure the government has authority to move ahead with a sweeping plan to bring high-speed connections to all Americans. Regulators also want to ensure they have jurisdiction to impose so-called “network neutrality” rules requiring phone and cable companies to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their broadband networks. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will lay out a roadmap for the new regulation today.
  • New rules are coming for how green the products your agency buys must be. The Agriculture Department is toughening standards on the amount of biological or agricultural material included in products under the its mandatory BioPreferred program. According to Federal Times, bio content levels for some 4,500 products are being raised to match the highest available at the request of the Office of Management and Budget. Items ranging from floor carpeting to electrical transformers all contain bio materials.
  • The General Services Administration wants to reduce its carbon footprint to zero, meaning the agency wants to balance the amount of energy it uses with the amount of energy it saves. Administrator Martha Johnson has set out this long-term goal to challenge and invigorate the government, calling it GSA’s version of the moon shot.
  • Space shuttle Atlantis is set to blast off on its final flight next week. The launch has been set for May 14 at 2:20 p.m. Atlantis will carry a crew of six and a load of supplies to the international space station.
  • The Obama administration has plugged a loophole in use of the no-fly list. Authorities believe the gap allowed terror suspect Faisal Shahzad to board a plan bound for Dubai even as he was being chased by law enforcement. Airlines are now required to check the no-fly list for updates within two hours of receiving notification that new names have been added. Until yesterday, they had 24 hours. Meanwhile, New York Senator Charles Schumer calls for people buying airline tickets with cash to be checked against the latest version of the no-fly list.
  • The Office of Management and Budget urges agencies to turn up the heat for stimulus recipients who don’t meet reporting requirements. Agencies will need to contact those organizations by phone, fax, letter or email when the next reporting quarter begins. They’ll also need to conduct comprehensive follow ups during the period. The new contact requirements include reminding recipients of the potential consequences for not filing, such as suspension or debarment for prime recipients.
  • The first deficit-cutting commission met for the first time yesterday. They talked with experts from the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service to discuss ways to control the growth of discretionary spending. Congress Daily reports that House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt called it a “get-to-understand-the-problem meeting.” The goal of the group is to reduce the deficit by 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2015. The commission has three working groups that will meet every Wednesday, except the weeks where there are full commission meetings.
  • A new federal web site devoted to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is getting hundreds of thousands of visitors. The Coast Guard set up the site within 24 hours of the oil rig explosion, according to NextGov. The Deepwater Horizon Response site features news updates and photos of the spill and cleanup efforts from several federal agencies, as well as social networking tools. Nearly a half million people have viewed the site so far.

  • More news links

    Pentagon Leaders Recognize Best Installations (Department of Defense)


    Officials: 1 dead, 1 hurt in Army base explosion

    Open government’ hides transition data (WashingtonTimes)

    Blackwater founder slams big gov’t in Mich. speech

    Maryland group sues over training center (WashingtonTimes)

    Obama biggest recipient of BP cash (Politico)

    Obama aide leaving White House for Bloomberg LP

    While Oil Slick Spread, Interior Department Chief of Staff Rafted with Wife on “Work-Focused” Trip in Grand Canyon (ABC News blog)


    Coming up today on The Daily Debrief:

    ** Work-life issues aren’t often taken very seriously. But this afternoon, we’ll talk to an expert who says there is real data that all that work-life stuff makes a big difference.

    ** And those Treasury Web sites that were hacked — in our Cybersecurity Update, we’ll talk to the researcher who actually discovered this hack.

    Join us from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.