Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – February 10th

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 House Appropriations Committee adds detail to its budget cutting plans. Members release a list of 70 cuts for fiscal 2011. GovExec reports, reductions include $600 million less for community police programs. And nearly $800 million less for food assistance to low income women and children. NASA would lose nearly $400 million, the Treasury Department nearly $800 million, with nearly $600 million from the IRS. Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky chairs the appropriations committee. He calls the proposed cuts the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the nation’s history. The overall goal: $74 billion in cuts.
  • The vast majority of positions being eliminated from the military’s Joint Forces Command – will be contractors. General Raymond Odierno is coordinating the shuttering of the command. He says of the organization’s 47,00 current jobs, 2,300 will be cut, with 2,000 of those cuts being contractors. The remaining personnel will either transistion in the the newly created command or move into the indivual armed forces. The new, yet-to-be-named command would reportedly save DoD around $400 million.
  • The Defense Finance and Accounting Service wants feds in DoD to forego paper pay stubs. DFAS is encouraging its more than 275,000 civilian employees to switch from getting paper statements in the mail, to just checking their statements online. The Service says most employees already access the same information on the web through their myPay system. Reducing the the mailings, it says, can save DoD $2.6 million a year. That’s money they want to use on better equipment, services for military members, or support for warfighters.
  • House Republicans join their Senate colleagues in questioning the Transportation Security Administration over unionizing. Last week, TSA Administrator John Pistole granted airport screeners collective bargaining rights. Now, FederalTimes reports he’s asked to supply documents to a House committee explaining his position. The requests come from Darryl Issa and Jason Chaffetz. Issa is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The two tell Pistole in a letter, they worry collective bargaining could lessen TSA’s ability to adapt as threats change.
  • The Recovery Board chairman wants reporting of stimulus dollars to go deeper than prime and sub recipients. In his blog at, Earl Devaney cites the example of money going to a federal agency. The agency makes a grant to a city. That’s the prime. The city awards a contract. That’s the sub. After that, the money becomes untraceable as the sub awards contracts of its own. Devaney asks, what if a subcontractor hires the mayor’s brother? He says, the Recovery Board has no way of knowing unless somebody blows a whistle. He adds, the Board will keep pushing for deeper levels of financial reporting.
  • The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is expected to tell Congress al-Qaida remains the top threat to the United States. That means al-Qaida remains the top focus of the nation’s intelligence community. Clapper could face some tough questions about whether intelligence officials failed to provide specific details leading up to the political revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. He’s also expected to talk about the threat of weapons of mass destruction and cyber terrorism.
  • Terror threat levels in the U.S. have risen from Americans radicalized by al-Qaida. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tells a House committee, foreign terror leaders use the internet to wield that influence. Homegrown Islamic radicals add to the threat from more traditional, lone-wolf bomb-throwers. The Wall Street Journal reports Napolitano thinks the threat level nearly rivals that of the pre-9/11 days. DHS officials tell Congress, they are devoting more resources to the domestic threat.
  • Yesterday we told you that a report was due out this week about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That report, from the White House, is expected to include details about how to phase out the two mortgage giants. Today we’re learning that Freddie Mac Chief Operating Officer Bruce Witherell has resigned. The Washington Business Journal reports Witherell is stepping down for personal reasons. The regulatory filing announcing the decision also says Witherell will not receive any termination benefits. Witherell has been COO at Freddie Mac since September, 2009.
  • Cyber security is getting to be big business, and local governments want part of the action. The Washington Business Journal reports that two managers in Virginia’s Loudoun County Economic Development Authority are working on a public/private partnership to stimulate cyber security research and development. The goal is to focus on cyber R&D, while creating, sharing and commercializing intellectual property and formulating policy. It would also train a regional cyber security work force.
  • Mitre Corp says it has partnered with Harvard University to jointly produce what they’re calling the first programmable nanoprocessor. The Washington Business Journal reports the nanoprocessor is microscopic, requires very little power, and can lead to much smaller electronic gadgets. The science journal Nature described the technology in a paper published this week. Mitre is a non-profit technology research group that serves the Defense Department, Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies.

More news links

Vets push VA to do more for caregivers in new plan


Defense leaders warn of impact of big budget cuts

Post office had $329 million loss in first quarter

DOD Must Train for ‘Degraded’ Environments, Official Says (American Forces Press Service)

Obama promotes plans for wireless expansion

Trump ‘seriously thinking’ about presidential run (CNN)