Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – July 27

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.

  • House lawmakers have filed a clean extension of Federal Aviation Administration funding. Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said the bill would fund the FAA in the short-term, ending a current partial shutdown. The Hill reports, the proposal does not include sticking points like cutting grants for rural air service. A longer-term bill is bogged down by a House effort to undo some rules for unionization of railroad and airline employees. 4,000 FAA workers are in their third day of furloughs. No word on when this plan could be voted on. (The Hill)
  • So far, your pay and benefits are safe. The House and Senate debt proposals released Monday do not contain specific language reducing federal employees’ compensation. GovExec reports, the plans also don’t spell out specific cuts in social security or Medicare. But that doesn’t mean they won’t. Changes to pay or benefits could still occur when the two sides sit down to reconcile their proposals. Among the possibilities – another year of a pay freeze and a larger employee contribution to the federal retirement fund. (GovExec)
  • Proposed changes to the federal workers’ compensation program could result in lower benefits, according to federal employee groups at a Senate subcommittee hearing. Federal union leaders welcomed a review of FECA but claimed the proposed changes are oversimplified and could harm injured workers. Lawmakers said FECA has not been significantly updated in 40 years and needs to be changed. (Federal News Radio)
  • The global security company once known as Blackwater is moving its corporate headquarters from North Carolina to Arlington, Virginia. Xe Services said 20 people will make the move to foster relationships with customers in and around Washington. Under the Blackwater name, the firm provided guards and services to the federal government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It drew harsh criticism from members of Congress and others after a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people. (Federal News Radio)
  • An industry commission urged the government to revise its procurement policies to speed the move to cloud computing. Agencies should be able to move money more freely between procurement and operational accounts, the commission said. Also among the recommendations, Congress should pass a law clarifying who is responsible for data breaches. The Commission, called Cloud2, is sponsored by the Tech America Foundation. In all, the Commission came up with 14 recommendations. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congressional websites have been crashing amid public response to the debt ceiling impasse. President Barack Obama, in his speech to the nation earlier this week, asked the American public to let members of Congress know what they think about the budget debate, and they answered the call with visits to congressional websites. The Washington Post reports, since the speech at least nine websites for House and Senate leaders went down. And it’s not just websites. House telephone circuits were near capacity too. (Washington Post)
  • Homeland Security has pulled the plug on its next generation radiation detectors. The Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) was meant to check for nuclear and other radiological material in cargo but the project had significant technical issues. A GAO report found it would take $300 million over four years to re-test and fix. Gov Exec reports DHS hoped to deploy 1,400 machines to ports of entry around the country. (GovExec)
  • The flag comes down at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in northwest D.C. today. Walter Reed has been the Army’s flagship hospital since 1909. Now, it moves to Bethesda. Hundreds of thousands of wounded Americans have received treatment at Walter Reed. The Georgia Avenue landmark has served privates up to top generals such as Dwight Eisenhower and John Pershing. By September, it will house parts of the State Department and the D.C. government. A Base Realignment and Closure Commission order combines Walter Reed with the National Naval Medical Center on Rockville Pike. (Federal News Radio)
  • Metro starts new and modified bus service Aug. 8 in Northern Virginia to help ease the anticipated traffic gridlock expected with BRAC. The new and modified bus service will start running between the Pentagon and Mark Center in Alexandria and around Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County. These new bus routes could provide a much needed alternative to driving. (WTOP)
  • IT security policies are a high priority for the energy sector but more needs to be done. That’s the bottom line of a new survey from IDC Energy Insights, which found that only half of the companies surveyed have an official strategy in place to overcome IT security threats. reports the survey finds oil and gas companies lagging behind in putting together information security policies. The top three threats listed were industrial espionage, employee error and accidental loss of sensitive information. (
  • Federal News Radio told you about the Department of Defense’s new cyber strategy, which was just released this month. Now, DoD has a new website to highlight the plan. It said the site is a tool to help explain and consolidate DoD’s cybersecurity accomplishments. It is also a way for people to learn more about the so-called “five pillars” of DoD’s cyber strategy. (Defense Department)
  • More than 40 Americans have been radicalized by al-Qaida terrorists in Somalia. And they’ve gone to fight there. That’s according to an investigation by Congressman Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. King presents his findings today at a hearing. U.S. counterterrorism officials haven’t confirmed how many Americans have joined al-Shabab but they say the number is at least 21. Some Americans are believed to have died in the Somalia war. (Federal News Radio)
  • A vote on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) two-step deficit reduction plan is pushed back to Thursday, Reuters reports. Boehner’s bill would extend Treasury’s borrowing authority through next year. A rival one-step plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calls for an almost $3 trillion deficit reduction over the next decade and extends the borrowing authority through the next election. Meanwhile, the White House says it’s working on a “Plan B” to raise the debt ceiling with lawmakers behind the scenes. Republican and Democratic leaders are scrambling to find common ground with less than a week before the government hits its borrowing limit. (Reuters)

More News Links

Fliers irked as airlines pocket suspended FAA taxes

All of GSA’s e-mail now in Google cloud



Coming up today on In Depth with Francis Rose:

  • The government’s data center closure plan is under way. Former e-Gov Administrator Mark Forman talks with Francis about how the plan will work.
  • Your agency has too many websites. Francis chats about a strategy to meet OMB’s goal to cut them down.

Join Francis from 3 to 7 p.m. on 1500AM or on your computer.