Friday Morning Federal Newscast – March 18th

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.

  • Now that the Senate has signed off on the latest Continuing Resolution, we await the signature from President Obama. He has until midnight to sign the CR. That’s when the current resolution expires. This new stopgap spending measure lasts until April 8th. It cuts $6 billion in what’s left of the budget year. Commerce, Homeland Security, Social Security and Labor take the deepest cuts. This is the sixth continuing resolution for 2011.
  • More than 300 top officers and senior executive service members in the Defense Department are about to lose their jobs. Secretary Robert Gates outlines management job reductions in a new memo. Some jobs slated for elimination include 176 civilian senior executive positions. Especially hit is the Missile Defense Agency which has been directed to eliminate 500 contractor support positions in 2011 and another 500 in 2012. It outlines hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for the department next year as a result of the cuts.
  • The U.S. government is quickening its response to the nuclear crisis in Japan. Evacuations of American started yesterday. Officials promise military aircraft to boost that effort if necessary. The Wall Street Journal reports U.S. officials are skeptical of damage and radiation estimates from Japanese officials. So DOD dispatches a U-2 spy plane and a drone to fly over the Fukushima Daiichi generating station for a first-hand look.
  • The U.S. Postal Service says it is closely monitoring mail being sent to and from Japan, looking for dangerous levels of radiation. The Washington Post reports, the Postal Inspection Service is teaming up Customs and Border Protection to detect and analyze any items that may contain harmful levels of radiation. CBP routinely screens mail for radiation. USPS says they have yet to find any items containing radiation.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency is getting better at recovering improper payments. Last year, if got back $47 million wrongly paid to people affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. GovExec reports FEMA has overhauled its process for recouping improper payments. It clarifies language in letters to recipients, and permits oral hearings. Elizabeth Zimmerman is deputy associate administrator for FEMA’s response and recovery. She tells lawmakers, the error rate for improper payments has dropped from nearly 15 percent to under three percent.
  • The government’s Troubled Assets Relief program or TARP, has more than $100 billion still outstanding. Just a few institutions are responsible for the balance. Analysis of TARP data from ProPublica finds those who still owe are student loan company Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, financial giant AIG and the big three auto companies, GM, Chrylser and GMAC. Congress authorized $700 billion to be loaned as part of TARP. All but $123 billion has been returned.

More news links

Developments in Japan’s quake, nuclear crisis


EMC’s anti-hacking division hacked

Familiar barriers slow Obama’s transparency drive

State Department axes guard firm for Kabul embassy

Man guilty in machete attack on federal official


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Those organization-wide meetings — most people hate them – both managers and employees. But there are ways you can make them useful and we’ll talk to two experts.

** And how popular are government agencies on college campuses? And what agencies are the most popular? A Web site called AfterCollege has a way to tap what young people are looking at. We’ll talking to them

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