Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – August 5th

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.

  • Here’s one immediate change coming from the new financial regulatory reform law: The Securities and Exchange Commission has signed a 10-year lease for 900,000 square feet at Constitution Center. The Washington Business Journal calls it a massive deal that removes the project as a contender for a 1.1 million-square-foot Department of Homeland Security lease and a 600,000-square-foot NASA headquarters deal. The SEC lease will provide additional space as the agency ramps up regulatory work under the new financial regulation law.
  • Some feds could be behind the government’s problem with improper payments. Newly released findings from GAO show that 1,500 goverment workers could be recieving Social Security disability payments they aren’t entitled to. GAO representatives testifying before a Senate panel say the erroneous payments total $1.7 million dollars per month. The administration has made reducing improper payments one of its key initiatives.
  • Full body scanners at courthouses store images of people, despite repeated government claims that they don’t. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, has posted documents to its web site it received in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit it lodged against the U.S. Marshals Service. The documents show people who look nude in the the machines’ images. EPIC has also sued the Homeland Security Department, seeking information about scanners used in airports.
  • In case you missed it, the supplemental war appropriations bill the president signed last week requires OMB to put federal contractor integrity information on a public web site. NextGov reports, the bill reverses a Defense Department decision to block access to certain portions of the database. The database is called the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. Until enactment of the bill, the system, called FAPIIS, was for government eyes only. Recently the Pentagon turned down a freedom of information request from a good-government group seeking FAPISS data.
  • The Treasury Department is losing its CIO to the Department of Justice. In a letter Federal News Radio has obtained, Mike Duffy says his last day will be August 13th. It’s not clear what his new role will be. This is a return to the Justice Department for Duffy. He spent 15 years as that department’s deputy CIO before moving to Treasury.
  • A government report that most of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is gone is meeting with skepticism. The report, issued yesterday, said robust federal action — plus the forces of nature itself — had removed or dissipated 75 percent of the oil. But Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, environmental groups, and lawyers said the report was premature or politically motivated, according to the Wall Street Journal. Jindal said it is too early to declare victory. And one lawyer suing BP and the federal government said the reports smacks more of political science than hard science.
  • The Agriculture Department handed out grants worth 1.2 billion dollars for expanding broadband access in rural areas. The money comes from the 2009 economic stimulus bill. In announcing the grants, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the resulting projects will give rural Americans more access to the tools they need to attract new businesses, jobs, health care and educational opportunities. The grants went to 38 states and tribal areas.
  • The Senate has approved a bill to create a coin commemorating the War of 1812. Sale of the coins will also help fund a three-year state celebration surrounding the birth of The Star-Spangled Banner. The Washington Business Journal reports that Treasury will produce 500,000 silver coins, worth one dollar. They’ll also produce 100,000 gold coins worth five dollars. They will be issued beginning January first, 2012. Surcharges from the coin, which could total as much as eight and a half million dollars, would go to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. The bill heads to President Obama for his signature.

More news links

Investigations underway into cancer clusters near Fort Detrick (WTOP)


Don’t mess with Texas: Lessons from IT outsourcing disasters (CIO Magazine)

Why people still use BlackBerrys (CNN)


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Only weeks left in the government’s fiscal year — is there an end of year spending spree? Ray Bjorklund from FedSources has been parcing the numbers and we’ll talk to him about where the money is going.

** And securing cyber-space is a global challenge. We’ll talk to GAO about what agencies can do to be prepared.

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