Wednesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 26

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 military retirement system might be expensive, but leaders say DoD can afford it. Pentagon officials reassured Congress they won’t cut costs on the backs of pensioners. Jo Anne Rooney, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the House Armed Services Committee, retirement is not the main driver of DoD’s escalating personnel costs. She acknowledged a recommendation from the Defense Business Board to overhaul the pension system, but Rooney said DoD won’t rule out changes in benefits for future retirees. (Federal News Radio)
  • Employees of the Homeland Security Department will soon be working in the cloud. The department will start a pilot program in January to offer virtual offices to some workers. CIO Richard Spires calls the experiment “workplace-as-a-service.” All of an employee’s computing needs would be stored in a DHS data center, and the worker would use a smart phone or tablet to connect and do work from wherever they happen to be. The department hired Hewlett Packard and CSC to manage workplace-as-a-service. The companies will receive a flat fee per worker. (Federal News Radio)
  • Boeing has just opened its new Cyber Engagement Center in Annapolis Junction, Md. The 32,000 square-foot facility will give security experts a place to collaborate on current and evolving cyber security challenges, The Baltimore Business Journal reports. The center also has secure meeting areas and features dynamic data analysis, information sharing, traffic intelligence and analytics for commercial and defense customers. It’s staffed by cybersecurity experts and Boeing’s research-and-development teams. (Baltimore Business Journal)
  • The House is expected to vote this week to repeal a law withholding taxes from federal contractors. The current law requires government to hold on to 3 percent of payments to contractors — to encourage them to pay their taxes. Now, an overwhelming majority of lawmakers say it’s time for that law to go. The hope is that a repeal will put more money into the hands of job makers. President Obama also supports the measure. But that didn’t stop him from threatening to veto the repeal last week. At issue were $30 billion of unspecified cuts attached to the bill. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to create a third-generation federal retirement system. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has proposed replacing the Federal Employees Retirement System for new federal employees, Federal Times reports. In place of FERS, Issa would have a mandatory, 401(k)-style plan. Employees would retain the option to also have a Thrift Savings Plan account. Issa’s proposal would end defined benefits in favor of defined contributions, but retirees would still receive Social Security. The current system superceded the Civil Service Retirement System 27 years ago. (Federal Times)
  • Impending defense cuts could have more of a trickle-down effect than expected. George Mason University Professor Stephen Fuller released a report saying that more than 1 million jobs across the country would disappear if the Congressional Deficit Reduction Committee doesn’t decide on an alternative balanced budget. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the total potential aerospace/defense and supply chain job losses would reach 352,000. California would lose the most (more than 125,000), followed by Virginia (nearly 123,000.) Maryland would lose the sixth most jobs (more than 36,000) in the U.S. (Baltimore Business Journal)
  • FEMA has a new policy of getting ready to respond even before the president and a governor declare an emergency. The agency is pre-staging people and supplies so it can leap into action on a moment’s notice, GovExec reports. FEMA had pre-staged teams on the East Coast last summer, waiting to see what would happen with Hurricane Irene. Administrator Craig Fugate told lawmakers the 2006 FEMA reform law gives the agency that level of flexibility. But he said FEMA will only go so far in responding early since, by law, state officials are the very first responders. (GovExec)
  • People may distrust government more than they ever have before. The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, links deep economic anxiety and doubts about the future to people trusting the government less and less. According to the numbers, 89 percent of Americans in poll say they distrust government to do the right thing, 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress. That’s bad news for both parties. (The New York Times)