Wednesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 12

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 Office of Personnel Management has gone live with a new version of its jobs web site. OPM director John Berry said 3.0 will make it easier for people to find and apply for federal jobs. The new site doesn’t look much different from the old one, but Berry said the technical behind the scenes is all new. OPM has moved away from proprietary software of contractor Monster Government Solutions, and the new site makes greater use of open source software. Berry said has 17 million user accounts. In the past year it processed 21 million job applications. (Federal News Radio)
  • One VA medical center is getting a big payoff from its green IT investment. The Lebanon Medical Center in Pennsylvania bought software, known as a dashboard, to measure and report on energy use by the computers themselves. It cost $150,000, but the center will save $178,000 in utility bills in the first year. Horace Blackman, VA’s director of IT services, said the dashboard tells managers the potential impact of energy-saving measures, including printer sharing, reconfiguring PCs and teleworking. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bill that could institute a civilian BRAC process for federal agencies has advanced in the House. The Transportation and Infrastructure committee will take up the Civilian Property Realignment Act, introduced by California Rep. Jeff Dedham (R-Calif.). The bill would create an independent commission to review federal properties and make recommendations for relocation, redevelopment, selling or other actions. The goal is to cut down on mismanagement and waste of federal properties, increase transparency and hopefully save billions of dollars.
  • Congress is on something of a crusade when it comes to agency travel and meeting expenses. This time the focus is on Veterans Affairs, which spent $220,000 for an 11-day conference in Arizona. That’s put VA in the hot seat, Federal Times reports. Congress has passed a bill requiring VA to provide quarterly accounting of conference expenses, which would track events involving more than 50 people or that cost more than $20,000. They would also include estimates for future conference expenses. Lawmakers hope the bill will cut down on wasteful spending. (Federal Times)
  • Senate Republicans were joined by two Democrats to defeat President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill. The bill needed 60 votes but got only 50. The bill would have placed a surcharge on the tax bills of millionaires and provided federal funding for local police, firefighters and teachers. The White House is hoping Congress will vote to keep a cut in the Social Security payroll tax through 2012. It also wants tax breaks for companies who hire unemployed veterans. (Federal News Radio)
  • Employees at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission might be furloughed, GovExec reports. That’s because the agency is facing a budget cut in fiscal 2012. While EEOC hasn’t yet made formal plans to furlough it’s 1,800 workers, Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien has told the staff to be prepared. One option is to designate a skeleton staff to keep basic services running during a furlough. EEOC’s 2011 budget was $367 million. Senate appropriators want to reduce that by $7 million, while the continuing resolution imposes a $5.5 million cut. (GovExec)
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union’s PenFed Realty has acquired Prudential Carruthers Realtors, The Washington Business Journal reports. The combined company will have 1,000 agents and offices in 35 locations in the D.C. Region. Financial terms of the merger weren’t disclosed. The newly merged company will be called Prudential PenFed Realty. (Washington Business Journal)
  • The man who oversaw the space shuttle program for the past three years is leaving NASA. Mike Moses will oversee operations for Virgin Galactic, Reuters reports. The deputy space shuttle program manager and former flight director said he still supports NASA’s plan to build a heavy-lift rocket and capsule to fly astronauts to the moon, asteroids and Mars. But he said that’s still another eight to ten years away, and he said he doesn’t want to wait that long. As Virgin Galactic’s vice president of operations, Moses will set up and oversee the company’s commercial suborbital spaceflight services. Virgin’s first ship, called SpaceShipTwo, is undergoing flight tests, with a trial run expected next year. (Reuters)
  • The State Department is warning Americans around the world of the potential for terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, after an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States was disrupted. In a new worldwide travel alert, the State Department said the foiled scheme might indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on terrorist activity. Officials said diplomats from countries critical of Iran should be especially careful. (Federal News Radio)