Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – Dec. 28

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.

  • The White House is expanding the two-year pay freeze to more federal employees and managers. A presidential order says the freeze will apply to people in the so-called Administratively Determined pay scale. The Washington Post reports that includes 30 percent of the 2 million person federal workforce. The freeze will also apply to the Senior Executive Service. A pay freeze for people in the General Schedule became law last week.
  • The White House is detailing plans to replace the controversial Federal Career Internship Program. The President has signed an executive order that replaces the program with a three-track system that officials say would allow agencies to access the entire pool of qualified candidates for entry-level jobs. The three-track system is being called the ‘Pathway Programs’. The first track is an internship program for students from high school through Graduate school. The second track is a Recent College Graduate fellowship and recruiting program. Finally the third track will embody the already existing Presidential Management Fellows Program. The White House says the current hiring structure favors job applicants who have significant previous work experience. They hope this program will eliminate some of the barriers to recruiting and hiring students and recent graduates. The embattled Federal Career Internship Program, accused of circumventing certain hiring rules, will be eliminated as of March 1, 2011.
  • The Pentagon wants acquisition professionals to get more training in writing requirements. The theory is that vague or constantly expanding requirements are the chief causes of projects being late and over budget. Federal Times reports Deputy Defense Acquisition Chief Frank Kendall is urging military buyers to take more training courses. He says good requirements development is paramount to successful acquisitions. He points out that DoD offers a lot of requirements training courses They range from two hours to two months. Five internal Pentagon working groups are studying how to overhaul acquisition.
  • Insurance giant AIG is preparing to repay a big chunk of aid it received from the federal government as the company secures more than $4.3 billion in new credit lines. The credit comes from deals signed with 36 banks and is the latest step by the company to replace the government funds with private capital. The New York Times reports AIG has been selling assets and raising money over the past six months to pay back taxpayers. It returned to debt markets this month for the first time since its September 2008 rescue, selling $2 billion in bonds. AIG received $182 billion in federal assistance it received during the recent financial crisis.
  • Your car mileage reimbursement is about to go up a penny. Effective January 1, federal travelers will be reimbursed 51 cents per mile, when they use their own cars. That new rate was published by the General Services Administration just before Christmas. While higher than 2010 reimbursement rates, the new rate is lower than 2009. That year, an increase in gasoline prices drove the reimbursement to 55 cents. Federal Times reports motocycle users will also get a one-cent increase, to 48 cents per mile. And if you have your own plane, that rate will stay at $1.29 per mile.
  • NASA has awarded Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services a two-and-a-half billion dollar contract to provide IT hardware and services. The deal is known as Agency Consolidated End-User Services, or ACES. It has a four year base period with two options each worth three years. It replaces incumbent contractor Lockheed Martin. The contract will be managed at the NASA Shared Services Center in Mississippi. NASA says the ACES contract will cover business, scientific, research and computational activities.
  • The National Archives is opening up your agency’s records — online. The Archives has launched its Online Public Access prototype. The system is a public portal for digitzed records. It includes about 11 million records. Project leaders expect to add more features, in the coming year, including the ability to share files through social media.
  • The federal government is stepping up its effort to preserve motion pictures. The Library of Congress has added 25 films to the National Film Registry. You might know some of them, including All the President’s Men and The Empire Strikes Back. The library says the films were added because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic value.
  • The federal Surface Transportation Board has approved the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s request to abandon 233 miles of rail in northern Maine. The move paves the way for the state to buy the line and find a new rail operator. For more than a century, the Railway company has carried products in and out of northern Maine. The rail line was asked last year to abandon the line from Madawaska to Millinocket because it was losing millions of dollars. The federal Surface Transportation Board has approved the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s request to abandon 233 miles of rail in northern Maine.