Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – July 27th

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Power has been restored to all National Institutes of Health Buildings. All employees should report, says an NIH spokesperson. Some areas of Montgomery, Prince Georges County and the District of Columbia continue to experience power outages, downed power lines, inoperable traffic lights and general commuter safety hazards. As part of this regional outage, some NIH facilities had been closed Monday afternoon, but have now reopened.
  • A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction shows that insufficient accounting procedures has left DoD unable to account for 96% of the funding it received from the Development Fund for Iraq. The Defense Department is unable to account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in Development Fund for Iraq monies in received for reconstruction in Iraq. The inspector general recommends Defense leaders craft new accounting and reporting procedures. He also calls on DOD to appoint someone to find out whether any defense agencies still have the money.
  • Defense Department auditors are zeroing in on wartime subcontractors. GovExec reports they tell the Commission on Wartime Contracting that prime contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t controlling the performance or fees of their subs. Patrick Fitzgerald, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, says that too often, unreasonable or unallowable costs get by the primes. And, there’s too little use of fair and reasonable fixed-price subcontracts.
  • President Obama is facing a zombie. That alternative engine for the new F-35 fighter — it appears destined for inclusion in the House 2011 Defense appropriation, the New York Times reports. This after repeated calls from the president and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to kill it off. A vote is expected on the measure today. Keeping the engine alive would add 485 million dollars to the Defense budget. The Senate version does not include the engine, setting up a battle within Congress. The main engine is made by Pratt and Whitney. The second, by a General Electric and Rolls Royce consortium. Proponents saying having two competing engine makers will drive down costs long term. President Obama has threatened to veto any Defense spending bill that includes the engine.
  • Oshkosh has landed a $41 million dollar Army contract for 60 Iraqi heavy equipment transporter systems. The Business Journal of Milwaukee reports the contract means Oshkosh will also supply more than six thousand spare tires, spare parts, manuals, and operator training. The work will be completed in Wisconsin and should be done by the end of September, 2011.
  • Could your agency be next? WikiLeaks, now famous for the trove of 91,000 classified Aghanistan war documents it published, says it’s only just getting started. Founder Julian Assange tells reporters he wants to partner with other news organizations to amplify WikiLeaks disclosures. He said he was frustrated with lack of coverage of earlier leaks, so he teamed with the New York Times, Der Spiegel in German and The Guardian in Great Britain. Meanwhile, Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia, tells the Wall Street Journal: It is illegal to steal documents, but not to publish them — provided the publisher didn’t steal them itself.
  • GSA and the National Federation of Federal Employees will try again to reach an agreement on use of social media by GSA employees. GSA management has tried to restrict use of social media, in part by requiring workers to add disclaimers to their online posts. It also wants employees to keep official business out of blog entries, according to the Washington Post. The union says the GSA is restricting free speech. Talks broke down two weeks ago, and are expected to resume tomorrow.
  • NIST is setting up a National Cyber Security Center of Excellence…and is in line to get $10-million dollars to do it. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the money for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create the new center, which is designed to help the public and private sectors cooperate on cyber security issues. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that in addition to the $10-million dollars for the center, the committee also approved another $15-million for NIST to research cyber threats. The center could bring up to 28,000 jobs to the state. No word on the location.
  • NASA is losing its chief information security officer to another agency. Jerry Davis has accepted a job with Veterans Affairs. VA is the federal government’s second largest department. No word on when Davis will start his new position.
  • Veterans Affairs has launched an IT procurement that could be worth as much as $12 billion dollars over 10 years. An RFP for the Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology program, or T4, went out yesterday, a month later than the department originally aimed for. According to NextGov, the T4 program is designed to give veteran-owned companies a shot at competing with large businesses. Secretary Eric Shinseki has said seven of 15 prime contracts will be reserved for veteran-owned businesses. Of the seven, four will be reserved for service-disabled vets. T4 will include hardware, software and services.
  • President Obama calls on agencies to add more people with disabilities to the federal workforce. The executive order directs agencies to hire another 100,000 disabled employees over five years. That’s a goal set by former President Clinton set. The order comes as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission releases its annual report on the federal workforce. That report finds that people with targetted disabilities make up less than 1-percent of all federal employees. It also finds a slight uptick in the number of women, Hispanics and Asians joining the workforce over a 10-year period.
  • We told you how the Energy Department is going green by installing cool roofs and white roofs at its facilities across the country. Turns out the Postal Service is a bit ahead of the curve. Not only does the Postal Service have solar panels on some of its buildings, and an entire fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles, USA Today reports the Post Office’s processing center in New York City has Manhattan’s largest green roof — at two-and-a-half acres. The green roof is expected to last fifty years and has already saved more than a million dollars in annual energy costs.

More news links

Norman Mineta Portrait on Permanent Display (NBCWashington)



Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Have you checked out the Federal Register 2.0 yet — new and improved. This afternoon, we’ll talk to the Silicon Valley developers who helped create the site.

** And it’s called social engineering — people who hack your network by getting information from YOU. We’ll talk to the team behind a social engineering capture the flag competition.

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