Monday Morning Federal Newscast – December 20

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.

  • Senate leaders say they have finally reached a compromise that will fund the government through March 2011. Congress passed a continuing resolution Friday night to keep the government open three more days – until Dec. 21. The current CR would have run out at midnight on Sunday. Under the bill expected to pass, most federal government programs would be funded at last year’s levels until March 4. The new Congress will be seated on Jan. 5, with Republicans taking over control of the House. If this latest spending bill is enacted, Republicans will have a much greater say in legislation to fund the government through the rest FY 2011.
  • Now that President Obama is set to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, the Department of Defense will begin preperations to implement the changes. The new law will not go into effect immediately. According to the House-passed legislation, the President, Secretary Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must all first certify that the military is prepared to make the changes. After that will be a 60-day waiting period before the law can go into effect. The DoD has already begun preparing guidance to direct the entire department on how to move forward with the changes. That guidance, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will come in the form of a memo from undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Clifford Stanley.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is a step closer to major reorganization. The Senate on Friday passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which includes the NIST makeover. GovInfoSecurity reports more of NIST would be modeled after the agency’s Information Technology Lab. The IT Lab includes the team providing cyber security research and guidance. The legislation reduces the number of NIST labs from 10 to six, and elevates the director’s position to a Commerce under secretary. The House still has to re-vote the measure because of changes made by the Senate. Lawmakers are aiming for a vote this week.
  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu is making sure contractors share the pain of the federal pay freeze. The department will also freeze salaries and bonus payments of contractors who operate Energy’s facilities. The freeze will cover 28 locations and 75,000 contractor workers. They perform maintenance, operations and research. The freeze takes effect January 1.
  • The House failed to pass legislation to set new performance and management goals for federal agencies. That move followed a Senate vote to pass the legislation. The rewrite of the Government Performance and Results Act would have required each agency to have a chief operating officer and a chief performance improvement officer. Federal Times reports the House had passed a similar measure earlier this year, but the Senate version removed many provisions favored by Republicans.
  • House Democrats have chosen Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings to be the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Affairs Committee. GovExec reports his chief responsibility is likely to be going head-to-head with the incoming chairman, Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California. The outgoing chairman, Representative Ed Towns of New York, withdrew his bid to become ranking member.
  • Defense contractor Lockheed Martin will pay the federal government more than $10 million to settle allegations of price inflation. The Government says between 1996 and 2000, Lockheed Martin charged too much for a commercial contract with an Italian aerospace company to develop a light-to-medium tactical transport aircraft. The New Mexico Business Weekly reports that Lockheed charged business development, proposal and other selling costs associated with the commercial contract to cost accounts charged to government contracts.

More news links

Contractors behaving badly mean headaches for Us


Biden: US trying to stop WikiLeaks disclosures

Benefits: Jobless relieved life raft still afloat

SPIN METER: Conflicting GOP messages on pay cuts

In tough economy, Santas are also suffering

NY Rep. King: I’ll hold hearings on radical Islam