Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – July 22nd

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.

  • Census workers, be extra careful when you’re surfing the Web. A new policy at the Census Bureau allows managers to revoke your Internet access if you don’t follow security measures. The Chief Information Technology Security Officer at the Census Bureau tells Federal News Radio that his office has to reimage 25 to 30 computers per month because of inappropriate surfing and use of social networking websites like Facebook, which means significant productivity loss.
  • A federal union accuses the General Services Administration of curtailing the free speech of GSA workers. The National Federation of Federal Employees says that GSA’s new social media policy goes too far. The say the order limits what employees can do when browsing the Web on their own time from home. Charles Paydock, a representative from the union tells the Dorobek Insider a mediator will be brought in to help referee future meetings.
  • The White House is taking another look at work-life balance and your paycheck. One the projects they’ve announced aims to improve enforcement in pay discrimination cases. Another will include a survey to gather information on parental leave, child care and other work-life issues. The initiative is a joint effort between the Departments of Justice and Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • How’s your agency doing with accessibility? The White House is going to find out. A new memo requires GSA and the Justice Department to survey agencies on compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. That includes accessibility to electronic and information technology. Justice will send out a progress report based on the survey in the spring of 2011.
  • The CIA brought one of its most experienced spies out of retirement to run its clandestine service. John D. Bennett retired in May. But what CIA director described as Bennett’s impeccable credentials in espionage, covert action and liaison made him the best pick. Bennett witnessed the emergence of al-Qaida in Africa during the 1990s as the station chief in Pretoria. He was also the station chief in Pakistan. And he oversaw the CIA’s highly successful Predator drone aircraft program. Before retiring, Bennett was the agency’s most senior station chief, having served in four locations.
  • The Senate and House are both applying paring knives to the Veterans Affairs Department’s IT budget request for 2011. Senate appropriators cut $160 million, and their House counterparts $85 million. VA has requested $3.3 billion dollars for IT, according to NextGov. Texas Representative Chet Edwards, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, cited late projects and unspent 2010 funds as reasons for the cuts. Under the Senate version of the VA spending bill, CIO Roger Baker must provide monthly IT expenditure reports to both committees.
  • The DHS bottom up review is embarrassing and disrespectful to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator John McCain said. Senator Joe Lieberman said the report’s statements were general and vague, GovExec reports. The 70-page review, which the department released earlier this month, was a follow-on to the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. That report came out in February.
  • The State Department is extending its warning for travelers to Mexico. The violence in northern cities and states, including those that border Arizona, has officials reminding tourists, government workers, and other travelers to be especially careful when traveling south of the border. State department officials say that since 2006, there have been nearly 23,000 murders related to turf wars between rival gangs, police, and drug cartels. The warning to travelers is a reminder to take common sense precautions and advice on what to do if you become a crime victim. The warning was originally issued in May. The new warning notes “authorized departure of family members of U.S. government personnel from U.S. Consulates in the northern Mexico border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros remains in place.”
  • AT&T has landed a huge Networx contract from the Department of Agriculture. AT&T Government Solutions business unit has won a task order worth up to $350 million dollars to provide Managed Security Services and deploy a virtual private network for USDA’s Data Services. Under the agreement, AT&T will provide data services to more than five thousand USDA locations across the country. The contract has a one-year base with six one-year options.
  • BAE Systems has a new executive vice president. Lawrence Prior will be responsible for developing new business and improving productivity at the U.S. unit of BAE Systems. The Washington Business Journal reports that Prior will serve as a member of the BAE Systems Executive Committee. He is formerly with ManTech International.

More news links

Bill targeting government waste to be signed into law (CNN)


DOJ: Prosecutor firing was politics, not crime

Geithner: Obama to pick consumer protection chief


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Troubled IT systems — the Obama administration wants to shut down troubled programs. That has made industry a bit nervous. But TechAmerica has a plan. We’ll get details.

** And how well is the government doing at getting that recovery spending into the economy? GAO has just published its latest assessment — and we’ll get an update.

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