Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – September 14th

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.

  • Federal employees and retirees will have to live with higher premiums for their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program at least until the government’s fiscal outlook improves. That, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Federal Times reports Hoyer told the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association that he would like to see an increase in the government’s share of premiums to 80 percent. It now stands at 67 percent. Hoyer said that when times get better, he would pursue raising the government’s share of premiums.
  • OPM orders changes to your agency’s policy on leave without pay. The memo from Director John Berry gives federal employees with same-sex partners 24 hours of unpaid leave to address routine, family educational and medical needs. That benefit is already given to heterosexual couples. This latest move implements part of a presidential order from earlier this year.
  • The White House is mulling an interim appointment of Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren to help set up the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. That’s because Warren is facing fierce opposition to confirmation from Senate Republicans. An interim appointment means she would not technically head the new agency, but would help set it up. Also under consideration is a recess appointment, which would give her the top job for about a year without Senate confirmation. The new agency was created to police banking products such as mortgages and credit cards. It was part of a financial industry regulation overhaul bill the president signed in July.
  • Contractors have too much easy access to sensitive government data and should be made to sign non-disclosure agreements. Those are among the findings in a new Government Accountability Office report. GAO looked at the contractor-dependent Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security departments. In almost half of the contracts, auditors found unfettered data access by program support contractors. The GAO recommended adding non-disclosure provisions to Federal Acquisition Regulations.
  • The Pentagon plans to announce new guidelines today for how it buys things. A DoD official in Defense News says the goal is to increase buying power while ensuring a financially healthy industrial base. The guidelines come after months of internal discussion and input from the private sector. Defense acquisition chief Ashton Carter has planned a Thursday meeting with industry leaders to discuss to changes.
  • You delay, you pay. Forty two agencies applied for extensions to the deadline for submitting transition plans to the the Networx telecom contract. Now Fierce Government.com reports, they will be charged higher management fees from the General Services Administration as long as they stay on their existing FTS 2001 contracts. That’s according to a statement from Karl Krumbholz, GSA director of network services programs. Departments seeking extension from the original deadline include Defense, VA, Justice and Homeland Security and GSA itself.
  • The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $13 million contract to upgrade its Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod’s datalink. The Washington Business Journal reports that the upgraded system will allow long-range transmission of high-definition images between aircrews and ground troops. Lockheed says the video datalink helps ground forces in surveillance, reconnaissance and nontraditional intelligence.
  • Four large contractors received new Social Security Administration contracts for information technology support services. The deal is worth potential $2.8 billion over seven years. Contracts went to Accenture, CSC, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. NextGov reports Social Security designed the deal so that price-reducing competition will take place among the contractors for each task order. The new program replaces a contract held by Lockheed, which reached its $525 million ceiling. SSA says it is seeking more expertise in health IT.
  • Metro is showing off its new diesel-electric hybrid buses and MetroAccess vehicles. The fleet was paid for by stimulus funds. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and members of congress visited Metro’s bus facility in Landover to see some of the new vehicles. There are 48 new buses and 80 new MetroAccess vans. Metro is receiving nearly $202 million from the federal government, including $52 million for the new vehicles and a new paint and body shop.
  • A Chinese man has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for trying to smuggle restricted U.S. military equipment to his native Macau. City News Service reports Chi Tong Kuok was convicted in May of conspiracy, money, laundering, smuggling and attempting to export defense articles without a license. Prosecutors say he tried to buy and smuggle communications, encryption and GPS equipment used by the United States and NATO militaries. He was arrested in June 2009.

More news links

Norton’s Second Hatch Act Bill to Create Regional Parity for Federal Employees Living in D.C. (press release)


Privacy group sues to get records about NSA-Google relationship (LATimes)

Police evacuate parts of Capitol

New Medicare chief speaks out against rationing

Plane evacuates sick US man from Antarctica

Cuba to cut 500,000 gov’t workers, reform salaries

Army band to get a $4.4 million home in Ala. (WashingtonPost)


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** It’s a way for government share software while reducing IT costs, foster collaboration, and spur innovation. We’ll tell you about Civic Commons.

**And move over Oprah! It’s time for the next meeting of the Federal News Radio Book Club. This time it’s a book that looks at the new ways we learn. We’ll unveil the new book and introduce you to the author.

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