Tuesday Federal Newscast – July 5, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The General Services Administration has left its mileage reimbursement rates as-is for federal employees, and that’s not sitting well with the National Treasury Employees Union. NTEU is pressing GSA to increase the amount of money reimbursed to federal employees who use personal vehicles for government business. On its website, GSA said an internal evaluation didn’t support a rate boost at this time – but it did say it will continue to monitor fuel prices for any future adjustments. The IRS this month raised its mileage rate from 51 cents to 55.5 cents in response to higher gas prices. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Census Bureau is going through a reorganization to keep up with the times. Census Director Robert Groves told Federal News Radio the agency has to be at the cutting edge of technology for data collection. The agency is closing six of its 12 regional offices. The consolidation impacts 300 employees and could cut up to 130 positions. Census has set an 18-month timeline to complete the reorganization. Groves said among the goals in the next 1.5 years is to put into place a new supervisory structure for interviewers. The new structure might also include creating new positions, like an increase in teleworkers. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking management of its computing services in a new direction. For years, HUD has outsourced much of its network infrastructure to Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard. Now the department wants to go all the way to cloud computing. HUD has briefed industry on its cloud plan, known as HUDNet. HUD issued a request for information in February and is accepting comments, suggestions and recommendations on how to proceed through July 22. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department has chosen 15 companies to provide technology services under a new $12 billion contract. It’s called the Transformation 21 Total Technology program (T4). Under the five-year contract, VA can choose from a variety of IT and telecom services, including program management, systems and software engineering, and cybersecurity. (Federal News Radio)
  • Washington Technology is out with its annual list of the Top 100 largest government contractors. Topping the list is Lockheed Martin with $17.3 billion in contract obligations in 2010. Northrop Grumman was second with $10 billion in contracts, and Boeing came in third with $8 billion. Raytheon and General Dynamics round out the top five. The rankings were compiled using data from the Federal Procurement Data System. (Washington Technology)
  • A plea deal has been reached in the case of a TSA airport screener who beat a co-worker with a police baton at Miami International Airport. Rolando Negrin will write an apology letter, serve 50 hours of community service and make a $100 charitable donation. Negrin says he attacked his co-worker because he was relentlessly teased about the size of his penis, after volunteering to test a full body scanner. (The Smoking Gun)
  • Doctors who accept Medicaid patients face 30 percent cuts in fees unless Congress acts. That’s because the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 requires fees to follow a formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid points out the law has required fee reductions 11 times since it was enacted. Except in 2002, Congress has voted to override the rule so doctors don’t face drastic payment cuts. Donald Berwick, director of CMS, said Congress should enact a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate problem. It affects more than one-million practitioners. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid)
  • We told you the National Archives opened its new food exhibit last month. The exhibit, called “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam,” features presidential recipes, a collection of posters showing the importance of food during wartime, plus more than 100 original documents, images, and government videos. There is an amusing look at food marketing, including a company’s pitch for branding “Vitamin Donuts,” and many antiquated nutrition guidelines. Now, the new restaurant is open too. America Eats Tavern is named for the 1930s Works Progress Administration project that documented the nation’s food traditions. The pop-up restaurant opened July 4. (National Archives)
  • Kentucky blue grass is not a noxious weed. That might be obvious to aficionados of gorgeous lawns but it took nearly a decade for the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to decide. The issue dates to 2002 when two groups tried to get USDA to regulate genetically-modified grass seed produced by Scotts Miracle-Gro. The seed is engineered to resist certain weed control chemicals. Just this week, USDA ruled it won’t regulate the seed under its biotechnology authority. Nor will the department user its authority over noxious weeds. (USDA)


Coming up today on In Depth with Francis Rose:

  • Francis Rose is taking the week off so Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu steps into the anchor chair. On today’s show, we get analysis on what General David Petraeus faces as he takes over as head of the CIA. We speak with James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. Plus, we introduce you to a Service to America Medal finalist who is making you healthier. Join Jared from 3 to 7 p.m. on 1500AM or listen on your computer.