Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – October 27th

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 data reporting burden on federal chief financial officers is about to get a little lighter. NextGov reports, the Office of Management and Budget will no longer require them to update a slew of databases established during the Bush administration. The databases were supposed to track progress towards financial goals. Results have been posted at a web site called NextGov reports CFOs were notified of the change in an e-mailed memo from Deputy Controller Debra Bond.
  • The new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection will take a novel approach to federal regulation. It will rely on citizens throughout the country to report suspected abuses by credit card companies and banks. The crowd-sourcing scheme was outlined by Elizabeth Warren, the White House advisor on the new agency. In an interview with National Journal, Warren said reports sent into the agency would create a heat map of areas requiring enforcement. Reports could take many forms, including cell phone pictures of bank documents with too much fine print.
  • Members of Congress are questioning a training program that sends government workers to Harvard at a cost of millions to taxpayers. The monthlong leadership course costs $18,000 per employee. That’s more than twice what the average public university charges for tuition and fees for an entire year. Government and school officials say that’s what it costs to train executives and what top companies are paying. They also note that government agencies compete with those companies for talent. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) says it’s hard to see how the expense can be justified. Grassley adds that the government office that runs the program “seems to have a lackadaisical attitude” about he describes as the “wasteful nature” of the spending.
  • The CIA, FBI and Secret Service have sent some of their intelligence agents to art school. The Telegraph reports the agents have taken a course called “The Art of Perception” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The students analyze paintings. The professor teaching the class says the goal is to refresh their sense of inquiry.
  • Federal regulators won’t be fining the Army’s flagship hospital for mishandling two packages of radioactive material earlier this year. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Walter Reed Army Medical Center committed a Level Three safety violation. The packages contained radioactive isotopes for the treatment and diagnosis of ailments including cancer and heart disease. The packages sat beneath a lobby counter for nearly two days after they were delivered. The NRC says it won’t impose fines, because Walter Reed staff made reasonable attempts to find the missing packages.
  • Congressional auditors say the Homeland Security Department isn’t doing enough to secure the nation’s critical infrastructure. Specifically, the GAO says the department hasn’t come up with a way to measure whether the owners and operators of that infrastructure are taking steps to reduce risks. GAO recommends that Homeland Security work on communication and performance measures for the owners and operators. DHS says it agrees with the recommendations.
  • The way you access information on is changing. The Recovery Board is adding a slew of new features, including a new developer center that you can use to put stimulus information on your own Web site, blog or social media site. The Board is also adding an expanded job search function, so users can find employment information thru their state Web sites. The changes are scheduled for today.
  • The Coalition for Government Procurement prepares to welcome a new president. Roger Waldron will take the job on November 8th. Waldron is currently an attorney with the law firm, Mayer Brown. He’s previously served in the General Services Administration and has experience in GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule program. He’s replacing Larry Allen, who has led the Coalition for 20 years.
  • Social Security is breaking ground on a brand new Teleservice Center. The new call center should help the agency handle the growing demand for services. The new Teleservice Center will be located in Jackson, Tennessee. It is the first new call center Social Security has opened in more than a decade. It will add 200 new federal jobs to that area. Commissioner Michael Astrue says that, nationwide, SSA Teleservice centers handle a total of 60-million calls every year. That number is growing as more baby boomers reach retirement age. The new center will provide more capacity in the Eastern and Central time zones, which is where more than two-thirds of the calls to Social Security originate.
  • We’ve lost the Wright Brothers’ original patent. We’ve lost maps for the atomic bomb missions in Japan. The Government Accountability Office finds that we could be losing a lot more of the nation’s prized historical documents. The GAO conducted an audit, and found nearly 80-percent of federal agencies are at risk of illegally destroying public records, while the National Archives is backlogged with volumes of records that need to be preserved. The risks highlighted by the GAO could affect volumes of mundane legal memos but also key pieces of history.

More news links

GAO: IRS study flawed on ending private debt collectors (The Hill)


Is the U.S. Government Sending Jobs Overseas? (DailyFinance, AOL)

LimeWire’s file sharing halted by injunction

Military, gov’t increase investment in algae fuels

USGS: Less oil in Alaska reserve than once thought

Large crowds christen new Social Security Administration building in Port St. Lucie (TCPalm)

Space station dodges piece of old NASA satellite


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Telework — there is a lot of talk about it, but only a handful of people are actually doing it. A group at the GSA’s regional office in Kansas City is doing it — and they have had some remarkable success. We’ll tap their lessons learned.

** And Homeland Security and the Defense departments are working together on cyber-security. Why? And how will it work? We’ll find out…

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