Monday Morning Federal Newscast – March 28th

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.

  • Congress returns to Washington this week, still divided on the 2011 federal budget. Lawmakers and the White House have two weeks to reach agreement. The current continuing resolution expires April 8. Staff-level negotiations run aground while Republicans say they are waiting for a proposal from the White House. House speaker John Boehner has the additional challenge of trying to craft a deal acceptable to both the Democrats and spending hawks in his own party. The Wall Street Journal reports Democrats, including President Obama, will propose $20 billion in cuts beyond the $10 billion already agreed to for 2011. That’s far short of the $60 billion in cuts Republicans have been seeking.
  • One of the major federal employee unions prepares for a furlough, should the government partially shut down April 8. The American Federation of Government Employees has prepared a 15-page guide to what its leaders believe its members would be entitled to. AFGE vows to push for retroactive administrative leave and continuing health care benefits. The union pushes for negotiations on furlough issues now under the discretion of agency managers.
  • Insiders at the Homeland Security Department warned for months that senior Obama administration appointees were improperly delaying Freedom of Information Act requests. Uncensored emails obtained by The Associated Press, show feds inside DHS warning about appointees interfering with FOIA requests on politically sensitive topics. In the emails the interference with FOIA was called “meddling and crazy.” A congressional hearing will be held later this week as part of an ongoing inquiry by DHS’s inspector general.
  • The Small Business Administration is updating its rules for federal small business contracting. The revisions will let more than 9,000 additional firms become eligible for set-asides. Federal Times reports the new rules increase the maximum revenue levels for businesses to be considered small. 25 years have passed since the last major revision. Also changing is the formula for large contractors partnering with smaller ones. The proposed changes come after a critique by the SBA’s inspector general. The rules, published in the federal register, are open for comment until May 16.
  • Wide-ranging legislation that’s moving through Congress would impact the Federal Aviation Administration. Separate versions in the House and Senate would impact how workers at the FAA do their jobs. USA Today reports the House wants to cut FAA spending to 2008 levels, saving about four billion dollars over four years. Meanwhile, the Senate supports giving the FAA $17.5 billion this year, a 16-percent increase over the House. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says uncertainty about FAA funding has forced the agency to put a hold on new aviation technology.
  • Biotech companies are putting out the help-wanted sign. Many of them already do business with the federal government. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that MedImmune has more than 280 job openings for administrative positions, project managing, marketing and communications, and business operations. SAIC-Frederick is looking for clinical project managers, a research associate, and post-doctoral fellows. Life Technologies in Rockville has 10 positions, and Human Genome Sciences is hiring for eight jobs.
  • New Google apps launched especially for government are promising to make teleworking more efficient and help with collaboration. Google Apps for Government is a ramped up version of Google’s free application suite. Government Computer News reports the apps are more secure than what the public uses, and offers more tools for your organization. Employees can work from a dashboard page which gives an overview status of different applications and tools in the suite. Feds would also have access to a more secure email server.
  • A high-ranking Homeland Security official is in hot water, accused of faking his education credentials. Jorge Guzman was the assistant special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Los Angeles Branch. He held a top secret security clearance and supervised squads of agents. reports Guzman is now suspended as a federal grand jury probes an anonymous tip accusing him of lying about having a college degree. His lawyers say the accusations are false.

More news links

Magnitude-6.5 quake off Japan; small tsunami alert


Medicare rise could mean no Social Security COLA