Monday morning federal headlines – Oct. 10

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.

  • It’s been meeting for weeks. But the 12-member select committee on deficit reduction appears far from agreement on how to cut future federal spending by $1.2 billion. Congress established the committee last summer. It consists of six Democrats and six Republicans and Its charge is to find the savings through spending cuts, tax hikes or a combination of both. But sources told the AP that ideological differences are preventing progress. Most discussions take place among staff members, not the members themselves. The committee’s failure to come up with a plan by mid-November would trigger automatic, across-the-board budget cuts. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Obama administration could be hit with subpoenas over a gunrunning fiasco as early as this week. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee promised the subpoenas during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Issa contends Attorney General Eric Holder knew about Operation Fast and Furious sooner than he’s publicly admitted. Fast and Furious was a project by the Buearu of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that involved gun dealers selling thousands of rifles in Mexico so the government could track their resale. But ATF lost track of several thousand weapons. Some ended up being used in the murder of federal agents. (Federal News Radio)
  • The longtime head of a leading federal contracting information advisory service has stepped down. Bill Gormley’s last day on the job as president of Washington Management Group was Friday. WMG, which operates FedSources, was acquired in April by Deltek. Gormley said he agreed to remain on the job through the transition which is now complete. Gormley worked at WMG for 11 years, and before that he spent 28 years at the General Services Administration. WMG specializes in the GSA and Veterans Affairs Multiple Award Schedules program. Deltek earlier acquired FedSources main competitor, Input. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House has taken new steps to safeguard secret information. The administration plans to create a special committee to make sure agencies use only classified networks for classified data, according to a new executive order, signed Friday by President Obama. That order comes after a seven-month review, which aimed to create policies to prevent another WikiLeaks episode. An Army private is alleged to have given tens of thousands of classified memos and cables to the website WikiLeaks. Under the new policy, each agency will have a senior official responsible for safety measures. (Federal News Radio)
  • For the first time in three years, federal retirees will likely get a cost-of-living adjustment. For some, that increase may be as much as 4 percent. Tammy Flanagan, the senior benefits director at the National Institute of Transition Planning, said federal retirees will be pleasantly surprised. COLA adjustments are tied to inflation and apply to both federal civilian and military retirees, and Social Security recipients. (Federal News Radio)
  • The departing chief information officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is apologizing for his criticism of the department’s foreign service officers. Kirit Amin is being reassigned from his position. He shared a list of complaints with Federal News Radio about the bureau, including what he called cronyism, nepotism and bad contracting decisions. He also accused foreign service officers of going overseas to have a good time. Amin apologized to his colleagues in a written statement. Amin says he issued a separate, private apology to the membership of the American Foreign Service Association. The group denounced Amin’s remarks after Federal News Radio published them last week. (Federal News Radio)
  • Same-sex domestic partners of federal employees will get access to a longer list of healthcare plans in 2012. This year, five plans offer coverage. Next year a dozen will. Domestic partners still must enroll on their own, and pay for their own coverage, GovExec reports. Also, premiums will mostly be at the individual rate not the group rate. The Office of Personnel Management has already announced average premium hikes of 3.5 percent for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. (GovExec)
  • The FBI will activate a facial matching service for state and local law enforcement in mid-January. NextGov reports four states will participate in the testing of the new tool. It’s all part of an upgrade of the FBI’s nationwide fingerprint matching system. The overhaul will add other biometric markers, including facial recognition. Under the new system, local officers will be able to send in a photo of a suspect for whom they have no name. FBI systems will then compare that image with the agency’s mug shot database to produce 10 likely matches. The system is supposed to produce the possible matches within 15 minutes. Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington are first to try out the system. (Nextgov)
  • The National Air and Space Museum is back open for business after protestors shut the museum down over the weekend. A group swarmed the building Saturday to protest a drone exhibit. Security guards used pepper spray to repel more than 100 demonstrators. They were told they could not enter the building while carrying signs. The spray sickened some. The museum was evacuated and closed. The protestors at the museum included those taking part in the 2011 Stop the Machine demonstration in Freedom Plaza. (Federal News Radio)