Monday Morning Federal Newscast – October 11

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.

  • OPM’s Federal Investigative Service is taking criticism for not doing enough to protect sensitive information collected for background checks. The Government Accountability Office says the service doesn’t monitor whether investigators and agencies that use the information are complying with privacy laws. The Federal Investigative Service employs more than 7,000 people to conduct background checks for security clearances and federal employment. GAO recommends that OPM craft updated procedures for keeping tabs on investigators and customer agencies.
  • Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is planning a bill that would end advantages for Alaska native corporations competing for federal contracts. McCaskill says the Alaska native contracting program hasn’t been effective, and her proposal would put the firms on the same footing as other companies in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program. That includes no more sole-source contracts without ceilings. The idea has critics, though, including Alaska Democrat Mark Begich, who has publicly opposed it. Published reports say McCaskill plans to introduce her bill next month, when Congress returns from its election recess.
  • Women in developing countries are less likely than men to have cell phones, and the State department wants to do something about it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has launched a program to convince more women to use cell phones as a way to improve their economic and social success. NextGov reports State’s m-Women program supports a project already underway by two non-profits. At a kickoff event, Alec Ross, Clinton’s technology advisor, calls cell phones and other technology the on-ramp to modernity.
  • It’s been six years since federal inspectors made a surprise visit to a deepwater oil drilling rig. Surprise inspections of all rigs have been declining to their current level of about three per year. Those findings reported in the Wall Street Journal, which analyzed inspection data. Federal law requires periodic surprise visits. Inspectors spent 62 hours of pre-announced visits on the Deepwater Horizon rig, including a two hour visit weeks before the explosion last April.
  • Controversy is developing around Tom Donilon, President Obama’s choice to be the next National Security Advisor. Donilon spent six years as a lobbyist for the Fannie Mae, ending in 2005. He fought off congressional attempts to impose new regulations on the mortgage giant. He left several years before the near collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008, which so far have cost the federal government $148 billion. A spokesman says Donilon didn’t oppose regulation and oversight, but disagreed with the forms they were taking in Congress. Republican Senator Richard Shelby voiced strong doubts about Donilon.
  • The General Services Administration has asked car makers to bid on 100 all-electric cars. It will spend about $4 million on them. The government already has 57 electrics cars, mostly in use by the Postal Service. GSA oversees a fleet of more than 650,000 vehicles. About two percent are hybrid-electric. And half of those have been purchased in the last year.
  • The President has signed the Federal Supply Schedules Usage Act of 2010. The bill will allow access to the schedules by the American National Red Cross and other relief or disaster assistance organizations for purchases to facilitate emergency preparedness and disaster relief. State and local government would also be allowed access under the same circumstances.
  • SRA International will continue to provide bioinformatics support to the National Institutes of Health under a task order which could be worth as much as $17.9 billion over five years if all options are exercised. Washington Technology reports the Fairfax-based company will continue to provide help to the Data Coordinating Center for The Cancer Genome Atlas. As a joint project between the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, the Cancer Genome Atlas is one of the largest collaborative efforts ever attempted for the molecular characterization of tumors to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
  • The 2020 Company LLC finished out the fiscal year on top garnering four wins, including two large task order contracts, in the month of September. Washington Technology reports the company won a contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that has a 2.5 billion dollar ceiling over 10 years. The second large task order win of the month was with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worth 5 billion dollars over 10 years for information management services, management consulting services and IT infrastructure services.

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