Friday morning federal headlines – Oct. 21

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.

  • Intelligence community CIOs have committed to consolidating their systems to save money. They revealed details of their plan two days after Intelligence Director James Clapper announced technology budgets cuts. But the CIOs say the consolidation is also a way to turn their agencies into better intelligence gatherers. Al Tarasui, CIO in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said said cloud computing would have a bigger role in the new approach. And most workers in the intelligence community will get terminals connected to central computers, instead of having their own PC. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal agencies have sold more than 3,200 assets since President BarackObama ordered a housecleaning last year. The savings have amounted to a $1.5 billion. So, now the the White House is upping the ante. Controller Danny Werfel told Federal News Radio, the goal of $3 billion in savings is rising to $3.5 billion. Werfel said agencies have found another 1,500 properties to get rid of, including both buildings and land. (Federal News Radio)
  • Not everyone thinks the federal real-property fire sale is successful. The Washington Business Journal reports that real estate experts are skeptical. They say most of the propery is not likely to draw any serious interest and that property is considered “excess” in the first place because there’s not much value for prospective buyers. On the other hand, they say the Civilian BRAC process could generate interest because there are properties included that are prime sites for redevelopment. That bill is working its way through Congress. The properties also have to be OK’d for sale. (Washington Business Journal)
  • The Senate has confirmed Heather Higginbottom as the new deputy director for budget in the Office of Management and Budget. President Obama nominated her in January, but the nomination was held up in part because some senators questioned Higginbottom’s budget credentials. She was the president’s policy advisor during the 2008 campaign, then deputy director of the president’s domestic policy council. She also spent seven years on the staff of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). An OMB spokesman said Higginbottom will work on the 2013 budget proposal. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate has also confirmed John Bryson as Commerce Secretary. Bryon, the former CEO of Edison International, a California utility holding company, was also a board member of The Walt Disney Company and Boeing. President Obama nominated Bryson five months ago. But the nomination was held up by senators wanting the president to move on trade treaties with Korea, Columbia and Panama. Congress ratified the treaties last week and the president is expected to sign them today. Bryson replaces Gary Locke, who became the ambassador to China. (Federal News Radio)
  • Northrop Grumman plans to cut up to 800 jobs across the U.S, with most of the cuts coming in Maryland, The Washington Business Journal reports. The positions are being eliminated from the contractor’s electronic systems business. A Northrop Grumman spokesman said the layoffs are in response to slow demand from the federal government. (Washington Business Journal)
  • Government Accountability Office employees could face six furlough days in fiscal 2012. That’s because the Congressional agency is anticipating a budget cut of up to $42 million dollars. GAO said it has imposed a hiring freeze expected to reduce staff by 375 positions or over two years. The human capital office will lose 22 people. Personnel actions will save $21 million. The rest of the cuts will come from technology and travel spending. GAO will delay replacing employees’ notebook computers. Plus the agency will put in place a more liberal telework policy. (Federal News Radio)
  • A trio of contractors is suing the government for the right to make campaign contributions. Federal law bars government contractors from contributing cash during a federal election. The lawsuit filed against the Federal Election Commission says that rule is unconstitutional. The suit is filed by two consultants for USAID and a researcher at the Administrative Conference of the United States, Federal Times reports. In their complaint, the contractors want some ability to contribute to federal campaigns similar to what federal workers and corporate contractors are allowed to do. (Federal Times)
  • Here’s an idea! Let more people vote by mail! It’ll be convenient for the voter, and it’ll help the Postal Service’s bottom line. But not so fast, the Government Accountability Office says in a recent report. GAO found that voting by mail has limited potential to provide USPS with any more revenue. Election mail has low profit margins, and there’s just no support for a national ‘vote-by-mail’ cause. GAO says even if mail voting were implemented nationwide in the presidential elections, the volume of mail would be relatively low. If the 2008 election had been conducted solely by mail, that would’ve been 324 million pieces of mail.That is only two-tenths of 1 percent of the Postal Service’s total fiscal-year mail volume of 177 billion pieces. (GAO)