Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – July 15th

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.

  • Telework at your agency is about to change. The House has passed the Telework Improvements Act, which would expand telework in government. The bill mandates that in most cases federal managers let all their employees work remotely, as long as they’re allowed. It also calls on agencies to incorporate telework into their emergency plans. This is the second try for the bill. The measure failed, the first time, in May. The Senate passed a companion bill earlier this year, and now negotiators must work out the differences before sending a final measure to the president.
  • How’s your agency’s budget holding up? The Senate is set to begin work all those fiscal 2011 spending bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee today will launch its first full markup session. Congress Daily is reporting they’re going to consider top line funding levels for each of the 12 annual spending bills. They’ll also work on individual measures for military construction, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and Agriculture.
  • Concerned that Congress won’t pass a supplemental spending bill before its August recess, Defense Department financial managers are developing an emergency plan to keep the department going, according to Congress Daily. At issue is the Pentagon’s ability to pay for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon can borrow from its fourth quarter dollars if the $33 billion supplemental dollars don’t come on time. After that, DOD would have to resort to furloughs, training cutbacks, and grounding of aircraft. You may remember Gen. Charles Wald, USAF (Ret.), Director and Senior Advisor to the Aerospace and Defense Industry for Deloitte told Federal News Radio that without immediate additional funding, “it will become very disruptive and you could start shutting down government.” For more from that interview, click here.
  • Congress approves a big crackdown on improper payments. The Senate has given the green light to a bill that requires federal agencies to find and recover an estimated $98-billion dollars. As part of that, agencies will need to craft corrective action plans to reduce improper payments. And agencies that don’t comply with accounting and recovery laws will face penalties. The bill is now on its way to the president’s desk.
  • The man in charge of the Naval Academy is being forced out of his job a month earlier than expected. Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler had planned to retire in September. But media reports say the chief of Naval Operations has asked him to leave in August. Fowler has recently come under fire over an off-the-books slush fund, and over his recommendation to expel two students. The Navy also determined that there had been “inconsistencies” in the application of the academy’s honor code involving seven Midshipmen alleged to have committed a violation, including two football players.
  • It is the first – but probably not the last – lawsuit that the FDIC is filing related to the wave of bank failures in the financial crisis. Now, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, which has taken over dozens of banks, is filing suit. Bank regulators accuse former executives of IndyMac Bank of negligence in making loans to homebuilders. They’re seeking $300 million dollars in damages. An FDIC spokesman says to expect more lawsuits like this in the future.
  • As expected, new health care rules were unveiled by the Obama administration. Health care plans with the government seal of approval will offer lots of health services at no cost to plan holders. Services include obesity counseling, cancer screenings, and help to quit smoking. Free means no copays, deductibles or coinsurance. The administration predicted 41 million people will participate in the new plans initially.
  • A contractor trade group is forming a commission to come with ideas for procurement reform. The FederalTimes reports TechAmerica Foundation is worried about recent Office of Management and Budget moves to halt and review financial systems projects in two dozen agencies. TechAmerica chair Phil Bond calls the move a wakeup call for overdue reform. The Commission will be chaired by Lockheed executive Linda Gooden and former federal procurement chief Steve Kelman.
  • Buyers in the Defense Department who bundle small contracts into larger ones will have to post their actions on the Web. Bundling is the subject of a new interim rule, according to GovExec. The bundle posting, required 30 days before the solicitation, must be disclosed on Many small business owners claim contract bundling favors large contractors. Separately, DOD will require contracting officers to notify Congress when they issue sole-source task or delivery orders larger than one hundred million dollars.
  • After nearly a quarter century at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Joan McKown has decided to leave government. The SEC says that McKown – who has been chief counsel in the commission’s enforcement division for the past 17 years – will take on a new role at the Jones Day law firm in DC. She’ll be a partner in its securities litigation and SEC Enforcement practice.

More news links

Prosecutors Won’t Oppose Probation for Scott Bloch (LegalTimes)


U.S. Parole Commission is moving to Northeast (Washington Business Journal)

Government working on wireless spectrum inventory


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** It has been one year since Jeffrey Zients was confirmed as the Obama administration’s chief performance officer. How are things going so far? He’ll join us for a status report.

** And we’ll continue our series Cool Jobs in Government. Today, all the art and murals you see in government buildings. We’ll talk to GSA’s fine arts specialist.

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