Tuesday morning federal headlines – Sept. 13

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.

  • Agencies are netting extra cash from contract fees, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. GAO found four of six governmentwide acquisition contracts netted ‘excess revenue’ for the agencies that run the contracting vehicles, in each of the last four years. GSA’s schedules programs earned an extra $62 million a year, while Interior and NASA earned an extra $4.7 million and $1.7 million, respectively. Agencies are not allowed to make a “profit,” but are able to keep excess revenue under certain circumstances. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal Aviation Administration workers furloughed this summer will not receive back pay under draft legislation of a stopgap transportation funding bill, GovExec reports. The latest version of the FAA reauthorization bill was modified over the weekend to remove the pay provision and combines extensions of spending authority for the FAA and for surface transportation programs. Otherwise, FAA funding runs out Thursday. The other programs can operate until September 30. Some 4,000 workers were furloughed for two weeks when the last of a string of FAA reauthorizations expired in July. The FAA needs Congressional say-so in order to pay its workers for lost time. (GovExec)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants input for a new nationwide broadband public safety network. NIST is seeking input on research and development of the system and a request for comment has been published in the Federal Register. The NIST notice lists more than a dozen features the agency wants in a future public safety network, organized around four themes: resiliency, reliability, security and affordability. Information is due back to NIST by Oct. 12th. (Federal News Radio)
  • House Republicans are trying to block a lawsuit against Boeing filed by the National Labor Relations Board. They introduced a bill to prohibit the NLRB from ordering a company to close factories or relocate workers. The Board sued Boeing for building a plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. NLRB claimed the company chose the factory location to retaliate for strikes at its airplane assembly in Washington state. Boeing said no reduction in work has taken place in Washington. The bill comes up for a vote Thursday and faces uncertain chances in the Senate where Democratic leaders oppose it. The Obama Administration said the bill would hinder its ability to enforce labor laws. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new House bill would give the Postal Service a 90-day extension to make a $5.5 billion pre-payment to its retiree health benefit fund — originally due Sept. 30th. USPS said it wants to suspend advance payments into FERS so it can have cash on hand to pay employees and bills. But the 2006 Postal Accountability Enhancement Act requires the Postal Service to make these pre-payments. The Government Accountability Office has recommended the Congress restructure the pre-payments so that USPS pays smaller amounts in the short-term and larger amounts later on.The Postal Service is anticipating a $6 billion loss this year. In the past five years, USPS has lost $20 billion. (Federal News Radio)
  • Administration officials suspected trouble at a solar panel manufacturer long before it went bankrupt and cost the government half a billion dollars. Solyndra Incorporated had received a federal loan guarantee under an Energy Department program to promote green energy. House investigators said that even while Solyndra testified its finances were improving, Energy and Labor officials suspected trouble. They were aware the company was about to restate its earnings. As early as 2010, the company canceled a public stock offering. Now the FBI is investigating the company. Last week it raided headquarters and the homes of Solyndra officers and the House has issued subpoenas to Energy and Labor, trying to find out who knew what, and when. (Federal News Radio)
  • Alliant Techsystems and NASA have struck a deal. Published reports indicate the space agency and the private contractor have reached an agreement to develop commercial services to transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station, according to the St. Louis Tribune. They’re scheduled to make the announcement this afternoon. Alliant Techsystems, best known for producing the solid-fuel rocket booster motors for the space shuttle program, also announced it’s moving its headquarters from Minneapolis to Arlington, Virginia, on Oct. 1. The company said that the move will increase contact with its federal government customers and Congress.
  • No single agency is in charge of keeping the nation’s food safe from terrorism. And it turns out, even though the federal government has invested more than $3.4 billion on myriad food counterterrorism programs, they are bogged down in bureaucracy. The Associated Press conducted an analysis of the programs that were started after 9/11 to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply. A Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing today to examine a new report revealing federal setbacks in protecting cattle and crops in the past ten years. While top food defense authorities insist that initiatives have made the food supply safer, the system remains fragmented with no single agency accountable. (Federal News Radio)