Monday Morning Federal Newscast – August 23rd

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.

  • The FDA Commissioner is calling for more enforcement powers, in the wake of a massive egg recall. Margaret Hamburg says federal regulators need more authority to intervene when food safety problems arise. She’s calling for action in Congress to make that happen. Hamburg appeared on the network TV news shows this morning. The eggs have been linked to more than ,000 cases of salmonella poisoning.
  • OPM will try to improve its centralized hiring registers. Director John Berry says the changes will make it easier for you to search for specific skills. The hiring registers are designed to be a simpler way for agencies to find prescreened job applicants. Federal Times reports that human capital leaders say the positions listed under the registers are too broad and don’t allow them to target the specific skills they need.
  • The president may be planning a July 11, 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the Army is building as if it will be there for decades. The Washington Post reports the administration is requesting $1.3 billion in additional fiscal 2011 funds for construction of long lasting military facilities. The House has approved the money, but the full Senate has yet to vote on it. Some projects are not scheduled for completion until after the planned start of withdrawal. The Army is also building facilities for use by the Afghan armed forces.
  • New rules for federal inspection of egg production facilities were inaugurated last month. But they came too late to prevent the current recall of a half billion eggs from two suppliers. The Wall Street Journal reports the Food and Drug Administration now shares responsibility with the Agriculture Department for inspecting facilities. It had been USDA’s job alone. An FDA investigation resulted in Sunday’s recall of eggs manufactured by Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa.
  • The Coast Guard Academy earns a place as the number 1 college in the North. The academy received a perfect score in US News and World Report’s latest Best Colleges issue. It was among more than 300 regional schools that were ranked. The school also earned the distinction of Great College to Work For.
  • One in four soldiers at the Army’s Fort Hood has been in psychiatric counseling during the past year. That amounts to 12,000 service members, and it is overwhelming the installation’s mental health system, USA Today reports. The Texas base is the Army’s largest, and it was the scene of a mass murder shooting by a deranged soldier last year, ironically an Army staff psychiatrist. Patients seek help for a variety of maladies from combat stress to marital problems. Counselors schedules and psychiatric facilities are fully booked.
  • Two big veterans groups are urging Congress to transfer management of Arlington National Cemetery from the Army to the Veterans Affairs Department. Arlington has been stung by a recent string of revelations of wasted contracting dollars, mismarked graves, and squabbling between two senior executives. The Washington Post reports leaders of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion want the VA to have a bigger role. VA already operates 31 veterans cemeteries throughout the country.
  • GSA launches a free web tool to measure your agency’s carbon footprint. Federal Times reports the tool can help you craft an inventory of both direct and indirect emissions. It works by using information from monthly energy bills, employee commuter surveys and business travel records. It can also show how much energy can be saved by boosting or cutting back certain programs, like telework and video conferencing. To use the tool, your agency’s sustainability officer will need to register at
  • Trax International has signed a lease for 120,000 square feet in Greenbelt. The space will house two projects the contractor is working on with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The Washington Business Journal reports that the office building on Hubble Drive will soon house a mix of government employees and contractors. They’ll be working on the Joint Polar Satellite System and the Polar Operational Environmental Satellites project.
  • If you like music and the space program, NASA ‘s asking you to help choose the songs they use to wake up the astronauts during the last two space shuttle missions they have scheduled. Traditionally, the songs have been chosen by friends and family of the crews. For the last two scheduled missions, NASA is inviting the public to visit a “Wakeup Song Contest” website, and pick out songs from a list of the top 40 previous wakeup calls, or to even submit original tunes.
  • Republican senators have, on average, a higher Web 2.0 IQ than Democrats. At least that’s what two professors have found. GovExec reports a study of digital competence in the Senate found that South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint has the highest level of what the researchers call digital velocity. That’s thanks to the number of Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers he generates. Conducting the study were Doug Guthrie of the George Washington School of Business and Scott Galloway of New York University.
  • Remember Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture official forced to resign after a video of a speech she made surfaced on the Internet? She is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to talk about his offer of a new job. The speech was delivered to the NAACP and discussed overcoming bias. But it was edited by a blogger in such a way as to make Ms. Sherrod appear biased.

More news links

US troops unlikely to resume combat duties in Iraq


Southern farmers say disaster aid plan failed them

LA unveils $578M school, costliest in the nation

Farms recalling eggs share suppliers, other ties


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** The economy is tough out there. And in private sector 401k plans, we’re seeing a large number of hardship withdraws. Are they seeing that in the TSP — and what are the concequences of a hardship withdrawl. We’ll get details.

** And Gov 2.0 — we talk about it a lot. The second Gov 2.0 Summit is coming up. What has changed in a year. We’ll find out…

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