Monday Morning Federal Newscast – Nov. 15th

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 Postal Service has promised one approach to shrinking its continuing losses. Keep cutting jobs. Postal’s 2011 financial plan calls for elimination of 50 million work hours, or about 25,000 jobs. The agency has already cut 105,000 full time jobs since 2009. Even so, next year’s plan, approved by the Postal Board of Governors, calls for losses of $6.4 billion. Last week, the Postal Service reported 2010 losses of $8.4 billion. GovExec reports, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett is predicting growth in mail volume next year. He says the Postal Service will have to handle it with fewer people.
  • They’re back! Congress begins its “lame-duck” session today. Bush-era tax cuts will likely take the spotlight. But they’ll also tackle decisions about government spending. Right now, agencies are running on a continuing resolution that expires on December 3rd. It’s uncertain whether they’ll pass catch-all omnibus for the remainder of the fiscal year or approve all spending bills individually.
  • Workers at the Transportation Security Administration have received the right to vote on exclusive union representation. The Federal Labor Relations Authority has accepted a petition from two labor groups for an election. The groups are the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees union. FLRA has yet to set a timeline for the vote.
  • The top democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee is fighting to remain in that panel’s leadership. New York Congressman Edolphus Towns says he wants to become the committee’s ranking member in the next Congress. Towns is the current chairman, but he’ll lose that spot in January when Republicans get the House majority. Published reports say that Towns has already begun lobbying his colleagues to support his bid.
  • The danger in being a Social Security judge is growing. Threats from people angry at being denied benefits are up by 18 percent over the past year. Data from the Association of Administrative Law judges shows, the threats are getting more elaborate. Some claimants are threatening to kill judges’ families. One in New Mexico promised to shoot up a Social Security office. Another in Oregon vowed to join the Taliban. In all, 80 threats were logged over the past 12 months.
  • The Supreme Court will not stop the military from enforcing its ban on gays serving openly — at least for now. The request came from the Log Cabin Republicans — the same group that filed suit in lower courts to throw out “don’t ask, don’t tell.” That suit is currently pending in a federal appeals court. The Obama administration and several lawmakers are supporting a repeal by Congress instead of the courts.
  • The House Homeland Security Committee, soon to be dominated by Republicans, will focus on the Secure Border Initiative. They will demand a plan from the Obama administration for fixing the stalled SBI-net project. NextGov reports, the high-tech, virtual fence along the Mexican border is on hold while the Homeland Security Department figures out what to do with it. Awarded to Boeing in 2006, SBInet has been plagued with performance problems, lateness, and cost overruns. Peter King of New York is expected to chair the Homeland Security Committee. He promises to press for a concrete plan for securing the border.
  • NASA has awarded a $251 million contract for multimedia. The deal with DB Consulting Group of Silver Spring will support Johnson Space Center in Houston. DB will provide video for future space mission and create content for NASA’s web sites and TV channels. Services under the contract also include operation of NASA’s video and still image libraries. The three-year base contract has two, one year options.
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defends the extra security screening, including the more thorough pat downs and full-body scans. In a column written for USA Today, Napolitano says that the nation’s best defense against threats like the attempted Christmas Day bombing and the thwarted cargo plane bombs is a layered security approach. She says that means in addition to partnerships with law enforcement and private industry, the American people have a role to play. Napolitano is asking for the nation’s patience and cooperation as DHS expedites the deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology units at airports. Those are the full-body scans that can see what’s under your clothes. She says they’re also putting new technology in place to screen more cargo.

More news links


Swamp gas blamed for Mexican hotel blast

Viral video spotlights airport security debate

Cisco’s shortfall an omen for rest of tech world

Axelrod starts Obama’s re-election work next year


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** The Federal Trade Commission has announced it’s hiring Princeton professor Ed Felton as its chief technology officer. He starts in January, but we’ll talk to him about what he hopes to accomplish.

** And telework can be challenging, but the latest thinking is that telework might be a team sport.

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