Monday Morning Federal Newscast – February 7th

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 Transportation Security Administration grants its 40,000 airport screeners the chance to vote on collective bargaining rights. TSA chief John Pistole says the agreement will cover performance management, awards and recognition, attendance management guidelines, and shift bids. But – Pistole says TSA will not negotiate on several issues: including pay, pensions, or any form of compensation and security policies. The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union have both been vying to represent the workers.
  • President Obama has ordered federal departments to review their regulations. Now they’ve been given 100 days to come up with a plan for how they’ll do it. Last week’s memo from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs stresses involving all affected parties in reviews. Regulatory chief Cass Sunstein asks department managers to pick out regulations that are obsolete, unnecessary, unjustified, excessively burdensome, or counterproductive. But it cautions against throwing out old rules just because they *are* old. It also asks independent agencies to voluntarily comb through their rules. The president’s order only covered cabinet-level agencies.
  • House Republicans are stepping up the debate over the future of the Environmental Protection Agency. They’ve asked 100 businesses, trade associations and conservative groups to name regulations they find burdensome. The Wall Street Journal reports EPA regulations top the list of answers. House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Darryl Issa will release the letters today. Complaints concern rules from mountain top mining to nitrogen released into ocean waters.
  • Washington D.C. operates a very large, very powerful fiber optic network…reportedly bigger and stronger than any other city in the nation. But now, it appears the District is ready to lease out access on it to federal agencies. The Washington Examiner reports the city is cash-strapped, and hasn’t spent any money on the 350-miles of fiber optic cable since 2007. The network runs on a surplus which is reinvested into infrastructure. The Interim director of the D.C. technology office, Rob Mancini, says the city already has a $1.6 million a year contract with the Office of Personnel Management.
  • The cost to build digital archive could hit $1.4 billion, or as 41 percent over budget, the Government Accountability Office says. The digital system is meant to gather, preserve and give public access to the records of the federal government. GAO blames the cost overruns and delays on weak oversight and planning by the National Archives. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $317 million contract six years ago to create a modern archive for electronic records.
  • A Homeland Security project to digitize processing of immigration papers is hundreds of millions of dollars beyond its original budget. NextGov reports, Citizenship and Immigration Services contracted with IBM in 2008 to build the system. The spending limit was $491 million. But DHS has spent more than $600 million so far. Final cost estimates have risen from $1.7 billion to $2.2 billion. DHS tells NextGov, the project isn’t really over budget. That’s because it has been re-estimated and re-baselined several times. The project has not yet gone live.
  • The federal government spends more than $4 billion a year to subsidize phone service in rural areas. Now it is considering ways to give those areas high-speed Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote tomorrow on details for a plan that would transform the Universal Service Fund to pay for broadband. That fund was originally set up to ensure that all Americans have access to a basic telephone line. But FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says that the Internet is fast replacing the telephone as today’s essential communications service. New FCC rules could also mean cable companies would begin collecting from the program.
  • Just because NASA is through with the space shuttle doesn’t mean the space shuttle is through with flying! United Space Alliance, a contractor with the space agency, is considering a bid to continue flying the space shuttle as a commercial service. USA Today reports that starting as soon as 2013, after they build a new external tank, United Space Alliance would fly Atlantis and Endeavour twice a year at a cost of less than a billion and a half dollars per year. It is a long-shot, but if the plan is approved, it would bridge the gap between the end of the space shuttle mission and the beginning of a new privately-run taxi to and from the International Space Station. NASA has refused to comment on any of the companies’ bids.

More news links

Republicans out front of Obama on regulations


National defense rocket launches from Calif. coast

Luxembourg ambassador says she filed rebuttal

Nasdaq hackers target service for corporate boards

Gulf seafood sales get a boost from the military


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Innovation – we know it can be difficult in government. We’ll tap insights and lessons from a group outside of government that has looked at government innovation and how you can make it work. And how agencies can fail — in a safe way.

** And the first Monday of the new month. We’ll find out how your Thrift Savings Plan performed in January.

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