Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 30, 2011

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.

  • Hundreds of Census Bureau workers could change or lose their jobs. That’s because Census plans to close six of 12 regional offices as a cost-cutting measure. The closures will affect 330 employees, about five percent of Census’ field workforce. But agency leaders are expecting a net loss of only 130 jobs as some employees will be able to take jobs at remaining regional offices or at headquarters. Over the next 18 months, the bureau will close offices in Boston; Dallas; Detroit; Charlotte, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; and Seattle. Employees not receiving preference hiring with other federal agencies will get help with resume preparation and job searches. (Federal News Radio)
  • Anxious to jump into cloud computing? You’ll have to hold your breath a little longer. Sources tell Federal News Radio, the final set of certification and accreditation requirements under FedRAMP will now be released sometime between August and October. GSA, DHS and DoD originally hoped to finalize FedRAMP by the end of June. The extra time is also delaying use of GSA’s infrastructure-as-a-service blanket purchase agreement. One source says the slowdown is the result of 30 new requirements dumped on the process by GSA. (Federal News Radio)
  • Today is Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ last day on the job. Gates sent a farewell memo to all military personnel. In it, he acknowledged the sacrifice of military members and their families and honored their service. He said his admiration and affection for service members is without limit, and he will think about them and their families for the rest of his life. Gates also called his tenure as Defense Secretary the greatest honor of his life. The Defense Department has posted a retrospective of Gates on its website. Gates oversaw two wars for two different administrations over the last four and a half years. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta takes over as Gates’ replacement tomorrow. (Defense Department)
  • The government has sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory. A 125-square-mile wildfire is burning close to the lab. Flames have forced closure of the facility and put scientific experiments on hold. Lab authorities described the monitoring as a precaution. They said they’re confident the blaze won’t scatter radioactive material. Lab Director Charles McMillan said nuclear materials are all accounted for and safely put away. Los Alamos is protected by a 10-mile fire break line. One spot fire jumped the line and started burning on lab property but it was quickly extinguished. (Associated Press)
  • The Obama administration’s plan to sell off unneeded federal buildings will end up costing money, not saving it. A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimated the plan would cost $420 million from 2012-2016. CBO is also skeptical of the administration’s claim that sales would net $16 billion in new money. It said that’s because many of the properties would have been sold anyway in the normal course of business. CBO sent its analysis in a letter to Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (Congressional Budget Office)
  • The mishandling of remains at Arlington National Cemetery has prompted a broad Justice Department criminal inquiry. The FBI has joined Army agents investigating possible criminal practices at Arlington National Cemetery that may have surrounded the burial of eight sets of cremated human remains found in urns in a single grave. A federal grand jury in Alexandria is subpoenaing witnesses and records relating to the scandal. Their goal is to track down evidence of contracting fraud and falsification of records. The probe goes along with several ongoing inquiries by Congress. A law passed last year requires the Cemetery to verify every one of its 330,000 graves. It also gives the Government Accountability Office power to look into Arlington’s contract management practices. (Associated Press)
  • The Senate took the rare step of curbing its own power Wednesday, voting to no longer require Senate confirmation for 169 high-level federal jobs filled through presidential appointments. Most of those jobs are second-tier Cabinet positions such as assistant secretaries and deputy directors that typically don’t inspire partisan wrangling. The Senate hopes this will curb the number of nominees that often hang in limbo for months because their confirmations get drawn into other fights. The bill passed 79-20. (Associated Press)
  • The global war on terror will feature fewer land battles and more surgical drone strikes. The Obama administration’s new counterterrorism strategy also calls for more frequent use of special forces. The doctrine has taken two years to hatch. It got a boost after Navy Seals killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in May. Last week, President Barack Obama said U.S. troops will begin leaving Afghanistan this summer. White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said the reworked doctrine acknowledges the growing threat of terrorism at home, including al-Qaida attempts to recruit and attack inside the United States. (Associated Press)


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