Monday Morning Federal Newscast – August 30

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.

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan is claiming solid progress in the last 18 months to return families to their homes in New Orleans. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday talk show, Donovan said nearly all of the 40,000 families who had been in trailers are now in permanent homes. He also said large tracts of public housing in New Orleans have been rebuilt, with hundred of families moving back in.
  • Jack Smith has been named to head the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. The 41-year-old prosecutor’s first job will be to restore the credibility of the section. After decades of successful corruption prosecutions, the Public Integrity Section stumbled when lawyers failed to turn over evidence to defense attorneys of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Eventually, Attorney General Eric Holder asked a federal judge to throw out Stevens’s convictions. At the time, Smith was overseeing international war crimes claims for The Hague.
  • James Clapper, the new director of national intelligence, wants people to keep quiet. In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Clapper said he is concerned by recent leaks of confidential information to the media. One recent disclosure revealed the potential for using CIA drones against al-Qaida in Yemen. Another told of the CIA’s practice of paying the Afghan government for information. Clapper tells members of the 16 intelligence agencies, they should be like his grandchildren: seen but not heard.
  • Lead shot for hunting won’t be banned by the EPA. The Agency has denied a petition by five environmental groups to ban lead in hunting ammunition, saying the issue is not within its jurisdiction under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA said its still reviewing a petition to ban lead in fishing sinkers. The groups had argued in their petition that up to 20 million animals including birds are dying each year from eating lead-shot pellets or carcasses contaminated by lead.
  • The Obama administration on Friday accused a State Department analyst of leaking top secret information about North Korea to a reporter. Steven Kim, who worked at State as an contractor employee, maintains his innocence. He was named in a federal indictment unsealed Friday and charged with illegally disclosing national defense information. If convicted, Kim could face 10 years in prison.
  • Federal agencies that help people in need are being pushed to the limit, as they see their caseloads continue to increase. One in six Americans are now on some form of federal government anti-poverty program. USA Today reports that’s a record, and the numbers are growing. More than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, a 17-percent increase since December of 2007. More than 40 million people are on food stamps, which is a 50 percent increase. About 10 million people are on unemployment insurance, which is a 25 percent increase.
  • The National Institutes of Health needs another 350,000 square feet of office space. The General Services Administration has issued a request for expressions of interest. The Washington Business Journal reports that GSA is working with NIH to develop a strategy for the leases that are set to expire soon. Those leases are scattered throughout Bethesda and North Bethesda. The office space has to be available by early August of next year, which means it can’t be new construction.
  • The Federal Trade Commission needs some elbow room. The FTC is looking for 427,000 square feet to accommodate the extra 280 workers it expects to hire in the next four years. The Washington Business Journal reports that the FTC would also consolidate its three DC locations. But, there’s a catch. While the FTC awaits Congressional approval for its latest solicitation, the move conflicts with a law that would require the FTC to vacate the space and turn it over to the private, but publicly funded National Gallery of Art, which sits across the street. The battle may ultimately test how much power federal agencies can exercise over their own real estate.
  • The FAA marks a major milestone for the complete overhaul of air traffic control. For the first time, a commercial flight has landed without the use of radar. NextGov reports the American Airlines flight touched down in Hartford Connecticut using an advanced satellite navigation system. The technology is part of the FAA’s NextGen modernization project that will eventually do away with radar for air traffic control in favor of space-based communications.
  • The Transportation Department is at work on a new database of highway accidents it plans to unveil in September. NextGov reports the database will harmonize two separate data gathering efforts now conducted by DOT. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System contains details on highway deaths. And The National Automotive Sampling System – General Estimates System contains information on minor accidents. DOT wants to eliminate discrepancies between the two, and better align them with state accident reporting. DOT plans to show the work at a September 14th webinar.
  • How fair are those innovation contests? A new report from the Case Foundation finds that agency officials are having trouble making them fair. The study also says leaders don’t have cross-agency authority for authorizing the competitions. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra says that’s a problem he’s trying to fix. The findings come from a public-private strategy session hosted by the Case Foundation and the White House.
  • Small businesses earned a record number of contract dollars in 2009. But still, the government did not meet its 23 percent goal for contracting with small firms. Those conclusions are detailed in a new scorecard from the Small Business Administration. Agencies awarded $96.8 billion to small firms. That’s an almost $4 billion increase from the previous year. But overall, the percentage of contracts rose only slightly, to just under 22 percent.

More news links

Late payments on auto loans fall in 2nd quarter


Intel buying Infineon’s wireless operations

Calif. rare fruit growers meet to swap seeds, tips


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Feds miss out on hiring the best and the brightest. That according to a just release report. We’ll get details — and find out what you can do to tap into those rising stars.

** And the Industry Advisory Council — the new head of that organization has just taken over. In the DorobekINSIDER interview, Andy Robinson will tell us about his plans for the year ahead…

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