Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – August 25th

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 sixth investigator to be charged for lying on security checks in the past year-and-a-half will be spending the next year in her own home. Faye Liner used to work for OPM’s Federal Investigative Service. Now she’s been sentenced to home confinement, because she falsified security clearances. The Washington Examiner reports that Liner admitted to lying in nearly half of the more than 100 cases she worked on. In addition to the confinement, her sentence also includes $70,000 dollars in restitution.
  • A former senior regulator at the Interior Department took golf tickets, hotel rooms and meals from a natural gas company he regulated. That’s according to an Interior Department Inspector General probe. Steven P. Henke, who worked out of the Bureau of Land Management office in Farmington, New Mexico, accepted gifts from a Williams Companies unit, a natural gas processor. Henke solicited $8,000 for his son’s baseball team from the company. The IG found no corrupt acts by Henke, but said his behavior amounted to misconduct. Henke resigned in May, just days after the IG issued its report.
  • The Pentagon should create a new high-level office aimed a suicide prevention in all of the armed forces. That’s the main recommendation of a task force Congress set up to investigate military suicides. It sent its report, with 76 recommendations, to Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday. More than 1,100 members of the armed forces took their own lives between 2005 and 2009, and suicides are on the rise this year. The Suicide Prevention Task Force was led by Army Major General Philip Volpe.
  • WikiLeaks reportedly plans to release a document from the CIA today. Details are scarce. The word comes from a twitter post by the whistle-blowing Web site, reports CNN. In July, the site released 77,000 classified files on the war in Afghanistan. The group says it has another 15,000 documents that it plans to release soon.
  • The National Nuclear Security Administration is helping state and local authorities learn to cope with a dirty bomb attack. It conducted a table-top training exercise last week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which law enforcement attendees, guided by MIT faculty, walked through the steps they would take if a nuclear device was detonated. NextGov reports, NNSA supplied materials in the form of PowerPoint presentations and videos. Forty people participated, and another 160 observed.
  • The National Institutes of Health will pump more than $100 million dollars into research for countering nuclear threats. The goal is to craft devices that can diagnose, prevent and treat victims of radiological or nuclear terrorist attack. As part of that, researchers will find ways to detect physical and chemical changes in teeth, hair and fingernails after exposure to radiation. The funding will last thru 2015.
  • The first U.S.-made airplane weighing a million pounds has flown for the first time. Boeing tested a model 747-8, as part of gaining certification from the FAA. Boeing is aiming for certification at just short of a million pounds, but deliberately overloaded the plane. Using a desert runway, the new model took off. It was the heaviest jet to take off in Boeing history. The Wall Street Journal reports, it’s not the heaviest lift plane. An Airbus A-380 is certified for one and a quarter million pounds. A C-5 military transport has a maximum take-off weight of only 840,000 pounds.
  • Could the Grand Canyon be at risk? The National Parks Conservation Association has released a report that says the Grand Canyon National Park is a threatened landscape. The State of the Parks report finds that: Mining activities on lands adjacent to the park could result in environmental and watershed contamination, sound and air pollution are major concerns, the park has a $300-million dollar maintenance backlog. The report focuses on the Grand Canyon National Park, but says similar problems threaten other national parks throughout the country.
  • Oil-eating bacteria appear to be gobbling up the plume in the Gulf of Mexico, federal researchers say. Scientists from California Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory measured undersea microbes at work on the BP spill. Their measurements show that the Gulf may be rebounding faster than expected. They warn that more research is needed. Still, the report echoes an earlier assessment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stating that 75 percent of the oil is already gone.
  • A chicken salmonella vaccine that has been successful in Great Britain was rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In forming a new egg inspection rule that went into effect last month, the FDA concluded evidence for the vaccine wasn’t strong enough to make it mandatory, the New York Times reports. Administering the vaccine to hens would cost about a penny per dozen eggs. The FDA’s new rules do call for regular testing for contamination. They establish standards for henhouse cleanliness and refrigeration.


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:


** Big changes coming for federal contractors — you could be required to have goals for the number of disabled employees. We’ll have analysis of the Labor Department’s new proposed rule.

** And how many federal data centers are there? New guidance coming from OMB that seeks to reduce the number of data centers. We’ll get details from federal CIO Vivek Kundra.