Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – August 12th

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.

  • Veterans Affairs is getting some new digs. The VA is moving into the downtown offices currently occupied by the Greater Washington Board of Trade. The Washington Business Journal reports the Board of Trade had been looking for a group to sublet the space. When the VA expressed interest in the entire office, the Board of Trade decided to move. The General Services Administration signed a 285,000-square-foot lease for the VA in May. The space will be used temporarily while the VA’s current home at the Lafayette Building gets a $105 million dollar face lift. The deadline for the Board of Trade to vacate is Friday.
  • The State Department faces $3.7 billion in building maintenance needs it doesn’t have the money for. The department has completed its first Long Range Overseas Maintenance Plan. It found that funding for new embassies grew 15 percent per year from 1999 to 2009. But maintenance funding grew only five percent, Federal Times reports. The result: 3,500 maintenance projects to be completed in the next few years. Requirements run from weatherstripping to major overhauls of buildings.
  • The federal deficit is pacing below what it was at this point last year. The Treasury Department says the government’s red ink totaled $165 billion dollars in July, down almost 8 percent from the same period last year. Treasury says the decrease represents lower spending on emergency programs to stabilize the economy. But still, the White House predicts this year’s deficit will top last year’s record of $1.42 trillion dollars. Less than two-months remain in the federal budget year.
  • Former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe and his son Kevin are expected to recover from their injuries, following a Monday plane crash. A spokesman for the O’Keefe family says the injuries don’t appear to be life-threatening. The two are among four survivors of the crash that killed former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and four others. They were on a fishing trip in Alaska. Sean O’Keefe is the CEO of EADS North America; that’s one of the firms competing for a contract to replace an old fleet of Air Force mid-air refueling tankers.
  • The Coast Guard is reviewing the recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the use of cell phones on Coast Guard vessels. The NTSB recommends that the Coast Guard have a policy regarding the use of cell phones on its vessels…and that the Coast Guard should issue a safety advisory to the maritime industry about the risk of using cell phones while operating vessels. The Coast Guard says they already prohibit cell phone calls and texting while on Coast Guard boats, without express permission. The NTSB made the recommendations after two accidents where crewmembers on Coast Guard patrol boats involved in collisions had been texting. The investigations into those accidents are ongoing.
  • Seeking to enable a single, lifetime electronic health record, the Veterans Affairs Department adopted a 10-digit identifier to be used from enlistment to death. VA’s CIO, Roger Baker, tells reporters the identifier will support data exchange between VA and the Defense Department, NextGov reports. The 2004 Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 called for creation of a standard identifier for federal employees and contractors. In 2009, President Obama announced a the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record project for service members.
  • The National Park Service is offering free admission this weekend. Nearly 150 of the sites throughout the nation’s national park system normally charge an entrance fee. But they’ll waive that fee this weekend. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the fee-free weekend gives families and individuals a chance to take an affordable vacation or explore a park they’ve never visited before. Fees will still be charged for campgrounds and other park services. The Park Service also will offer single fee-free days on September 25th and November 11th.

More news links

Not giving up: Officials look for challenge to USJFCOM closure (Suffolk News-Herald)


DOE awards $21.3M to study CO2 underground storage

AP Interview: US. contractor recounts kidnapping

Park Service has students guard historic sites