Monday morning federal headlines – Oct. 31

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.

  • The Air Force is aiming to have one unified network by the end of 2012. Air Force wants to migrate most of its localized IT networks into a single system called AFNET by the end of next year. There are 384 bases left to migrate. The move would use enterprise services across the Air Force. But it’s still undecided exactly who will host and operate those services over the long term. The Air Force official in charge of the network migration says the answer to that question is “still in flux.” (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs has awarded a $50,000 prize to a company that helped apply its health IT technology to the private sector. The “Blue Button” technology was developed to give VA patients direct access to their medical information. Atlanta-based RelayHealth won the cash prize for being the fastest company to develop and implement the single-click technology that allows more than 25,000 private sector patients to quickly download their health records. (Federal News Radio)
  • DISA has a new director. Air Force Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins will succeed Lt. General Carroll Pollett as the Defense Information Systems Agency’s leader. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the president nominated Hawkins for appointment to the rank of Lt. General and for the DISA director. Hawkins returns to DISA after serving at the Pentagon as the Joint Staff’s deputy director of C-4 systems. Prior to his Joint Staff assignment, Hawkins was DISA’s vice director under Pollett. (Federal News Radio)
  • If agencies could work together, they might be able to better secure federal courthouses. There are 424 federal courthouses in the U.S. The Justice Department said that the number of threats against the courts have more than doubled in the past six years. While a memorandum of agreement already exists that outlines each agency’s role in keeping courthouses safe, the Government Accountability Office found overlap, redundancy, and workers performing jobs outside their responsibilities. GAO recommended that the agreement between the Federal Protective Service, the Marshals Service, Homeland Security and others be updated to clarify everyone’s role and to assess costs and benefits. GAO also said that if the agencies decide to expand the program, they need to take each agency’s views into consideration. (GAO)
  • The muffins didn’t really cost $16. The Justice Department’s Inspector General is backpedaling from a report about excessive spending at federal conferences. The IG said some highly publicized muffins were actually part of a breakfast package that totalled more than $16 per person. The IG office made the revision after it said it received additional information about food and beverage costs. The original report examined spending for 10 Justice conferences and found the department spent almost $500,000 dollars on food and drinks alone. That led the Office of Management and Budget to order a governmentwide review of conference spending. (Federal News Radio)
  • Are some government officials truly immune from civil suits when it comes to their work? That’s the question the Supreme Court will be deciding starting this week. It will take up the case of a former district attorney who was accused of perjury. The courts declared that he had immunity from the suit. The other party appealed. The Supreme Court’s decision could what set a precedent about how far a court official’s immunity really goes. Oral arguments begin tomorrow morning. (Albany Herald)