Thursday morning federal headlines – Oct. 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Lawmakers are asking the deficit reduction committee to lower the cap agencies pay contractors for executive salaries. They also want to extend salary caps to all contractor employees. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) along with Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) authored the letter. They said capping the salary reimbursement for contractors’ top five executives would save at least $3 billion over 10 years. Existing law limits the amount contractors can charge for executives’ salaries at about $690,000 dollars. They want the new cap to be closer to $200,000. (Federal News Radio)
  • The union representing the IRS says jobs and national revenue will be lost if budget cuts are passed. IRS faces a $450 million cut in the Senate 2012 appropriations bill. The House version would cut $600 million. The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees, said the magnitude of the cuts could force the agency to slash 4,200 jobs and lead to $4 billion less in revenue collected every year. Lawmakers have until Nov. 18th to pass a new budget before the current continuing resolution expires. (Federal News Radio)
  • Some privacy concerns are being raised over the Postal Service’s new change-of-address “welcome” kits, which come packed with ads and coupons. It’s part of a deal between USPS and the private company Imagitas, which oversees the process by selling ads to major retailers. Both parties say the partnership is totally legal — and just renewed it for another 10 years in January. But critics told The Washington Times that federal agencies are prohibited from leasing personal information like names and addresses under the Privacy Act. (The Washington Times)
  • The Information Sharing Environment is designed to ensure that everyone’s on the same page to enhance national security. But the Government Accountability Office took a closer look at the ISE, and found it isn’t fully-functioning yet. GAO had already recommended that agencies have a plan to put an ISE in place, in addition to a system to help gauge success. GAO said the so-called “fusion centers,” where states and feds share security information are more concerned about their ability expand their operations over the long term. Auditors said this makes it harder for the the centers to function as part of an existing network. (GAO)
  • Meanwhile, ISE is taking on greater responsibility after the president’s executive order laid out a new policy for information sharing post-WikiLeaks. ISE will expand its purview into classified information sharing and supporting activities. ISE director Kshemendra Paul said his agency will also play a coordinating role for three new information sharing offices. (Federal News Radio)
  • A seven-seat space taxi backed by NASA to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station will make a high-altitude test flight next summer, Reuters reports. Sierra Nevada Corp’s “Dream Chaser” space plane, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is one of four space taxis being developed by private industry with backing from the federal government. Sierra Nevada got a $25.6 million boost to its existing $80 million dollar contract with NASA. (Reuters)