Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – August 31st

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.

  • Hewlett-Packard will pay $55 million to settle claims that it defrauded the government. The case alleges that HP paid kickbacks to systems integrators who then recommended that agencies buy HP products. In a news release, the Justice Department says the settlement also resolves claims that HP’s 2002 contract with GSA was defectively priced. The firm joins a growing list of companies settling with the government or facing charges of violating the False Claims Act. Among them are Oracle, IBM, EMC and Computer Sciences Corporation.
  • A Texas congresswoman has admitted she steered college scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to relatives and the children of a staff member, in violation of House nepotism rules. But Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson said it was an honest mistake and she promises to return the money. The Dallas Morning News reports as much as $20,000 thousand in scholarships is involved. Scholarships went to two of Johnson’s grandsons and two grand nephews, plus the son and daughter of aide Rod Givens.
  • When he gives his nationwide speech about Iraq this evening, President Obama will not use the words “mission accomplished.” The White House is citing use of those words on a banner behind President George W. Bush during his famed speech from an aircraft carrier in 2003. Mr. Bush declared the end of major combat operations just before the Iraq insurgency got underway. But a White House spokesman says Mr. Obama will call Mr. Bush before the speech.
  • The Justice Department filed a second lawsuit against Arizona, again for immigration practices in that state. The Washington Post reports the latest lawsuit is aimed at community colleges in Maricopa County that require non-citizens to provide their green cards before they can be hired for jobs. It comes less than two months after Justice sued Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer over the state’s new immigration law. In Monday’s lawsuit, Justice officials say the green card requirement amounts to extra paperwork, a violation of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • Congressional investigators are questioning five lawmakers who might have misspent government money during overseas travel. The Wall Street Journal reports the probe is examining Representatives Joe Wilson of South Carolina; Alcee Hastings of Florida; G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina; Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Solomon Ortiz of Texas. The ethics committee is looking at whether leftover per diem dollars meant for lodging and transportation were used for gifts or travel by spouses.
  • Looks like the federal government is helping local governments maintain some stability. USA Today reports cities like Rockville, Maryland are so close to DC that it has managed to escape the worst of the housing bust and recession. While home sales have dropped dramatically, the federal government’s presence has provided a buffer against the downturn. Foreclosures have not been as numerous. Federal government services remain the center of the economy for Montgomery County. The National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy, along with many biotech firms with federal contracts, are all located in the area.
  • There’s a new rule for veterans who might’ve been exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam and other areas. Veterans Affairs has crafted a new rule that expands the list of health problems that VA will presume is related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures. It adds two new conditions and expands one category of conditions. VA is adding Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease and expanding chronic lymphocytic leukemia to include all chronic B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia. The rule will be published in the Federal Register today.
  • The government is changing the rules for contracting officers and vendors. A new rule raises the simplified acquisition threshold to $150,000 dollars. That threshold governs when agencies can buy products or services more quickly, more economically and with a focus on small businesses. Also, prime vendors will need to submit subcontracting plans on all contracts worth more than $650,000 instead of $500,000. The changes are effective October first.
  • GSA inches closer to making awards under its cloud computing program. Ed O’Hare, who works with GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, tells Federal News Radio the awards will be made by today. GSA issued the infrastructure-as-a-service request for quote in May.
  • The General Services Administration’s Public Building Service will try to use less office space. Chief Information Officer Diane Herdt tells Federal News Radio it’s part of the plan to go greener. PBS Commissioner Bob Peck is looking at tools and technology that will allow employees to telework when they’re outside of the office, and hotelling when in the office. In other words, if a worker is somewhere else two to three days a week, they may only require a hotelling suite to work out of, as opposed to a desk and cubicle.

More news links

CIA chief spices up spy shop’s image on reality TV


Bear attack highlights lax Ohio exotic pet laws

Montana drinking and driving culture at crossroads

No deal: buyers will see fewer discounts for cars


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Five years after Hurricane Katrina. Former representative Tom Davis led the special congressional panel that investigated the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. We’ll talk to him about what’s changed five years later.

** And you’ve heard of fantasy football — what about Fantasy TSP… Really? We’ll talk to the man behind it and tell you how you can play…

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