Friday Morning Federal Newscast – July 16th

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.

  • Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad begins work on a measure to set discretionary spending caps for FY 2011. It’s part of a budget enforcement package similar to one that the House approved on July 1st. The House bill allowed the Appropriations Committee to begin work on individual spending measures. Conrad tells Congress Daily that his resolution would likely be tacked on to another bill, such as the emergency war supplemental.
  • If you’re a contractor and you’ve noticed less contracting opportunities coming your way, it’s for a reason. Procurement Policy Chief Dan Gordon says that between fiscal 2008 and 2009, the growth rate of federal contract spending slowed to 4 percent. And he says the trend is continuing in 2010. Part of the decrease is because of the administration’s effort to reduce wasteful spending. Gordon spoke Thursday at a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee’s Task Force of Government Procurement.
  • When do house guests turn to spoiling fish? When they interfere with official work. The Federal Times reports a new State Department inspector general report says so many VIPs are streaming to the embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, that staff can hardly get their work done. Last year, 700 visitors took up space, staff time and vehicles, the IG says. They came from all corners of the administration and Congress. It all required embassy employees to hold 100 prep meetings and give up use of 300 vehicles to help with visits lasting a total of half a year.
  • The Interior Department sends Congress a plan to launch three new agencies for regulating offshore energy programs. Those responsibilities once belonged to the former Minerals Management Service, which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar got rid of after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster started. MMS had been criticized for conflicts of interest and being too cozy with the oil industry, which it regulated. The new plan would set up three new bureaus: Ocean Energy Management, Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.
  • The Army is reporting a record number of suicides for June.Thirty two confirmed or suspected suicides last month. Of those, seven committed suicide in combat. The Army’s suicide prevention task force believes the cause is stress from the nine years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has made a huge push to get troubled soldiers into counseling. The effort appeared to be paying off when suicide rates dipped in May.
  • Maybe that federal stimulus program so many federal workers have been slaving over is starting to make a difference. Oregon says more than 6,100 jobs were created just last quarter, thanks to federal stimulus money. The Portland Business Journal reports the jobs were funded by $200 million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. In addition to paying for jobs, education, health care and unemployment assistance, Oregon’s governor says the stimulus has helped this summer become busiest transportation construction season in 50 years.
  • The Feds Feed Families drive is off to a flying start. Federal employees collected 32,000 pounds of food donated to local food banks during June. When he launched the program last month, OPM director John Berry challenged federal workers to come up with 1.2 million pounds in 12 months. NASA collected the most so far — 5,800 pounds. OPM employees gathered 4,800 pounds.
  • A new NASA telescope that’s only been in use six months has already spotted 25,000 never-before-seen asteroids — 95 of which are “near Earth.” That means they could someday pose a threat, although none does now. The telescope is able to see through veils of dust that thwart regular telescopes.


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:


** The telework bill passes the House. What does it mean for YOU? We’ll talk to the lead sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes.

** And we’ll continue our series Cool Jobs in Government. Today, when you order stamps, where do they store all of them? Chris gives you a hint: It is in a cave, but you probably will be surprised where this cave is.

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