Wednesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 5

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 State Department’s Consular Affairs Bureau CIO has resigned. Kirit Amin cited frustration with senior management and what he called bad contracts as the reason for his departure. Amin also criticized Consular staff, whom he said have resisted change. He told Federal News Radio instead of fixing expensive contracts, State would rather cover them up. He said he’ll work for State CIO Susan Swart until he is able to find another job in government. The recommendation to not leave government altogether, Amin said, came from Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House passed a Senate-approved continuing resolution Tuesday, keeping the government funded through Nov. 18. Another difficult task now looms: passing the 12 annual spending bills that lay out the day-to-day operating budgets for Cabinet agencies and departments. It promises to remain a contentious fight. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Federal Procurement Policy wants to shine a light into what it calls a procurement blind spot. Administrator Dan Gordon has asked GSA to create a database of blanket purchase agreements. Agencies create BPAs as a way to speed up their purchases. BPAs are often written to use GSA’s multiple award supply contracts. But Gordon said hundreds of BPAs duplicate one another and cause waste. He’s hoping a directory of BPAs will help agencies do a better job of comparison shopping. (Federal News Radio)

    The Government Accountability Office warned Congress about what it calls an “unachievable” acquisition program at the Coast Guard. Auditors told a House committee the Coast Guard’s program to recapitalize its boats and aircraft has been hindered by unrealistic budget and cost assumptions. Coast Guard Commandant Robert Papp disputed GAO’s findings, saying the conclusions were based on year-old information. (Federal News Radio)

  • CACI has wrapped up its acquisition of Advanced Programs Group. APG is an Oracle Platinum Partner and provides Oracle e-business services in the federal market. CACI said this move expands its presence in the business and government transformation fields. It also will help the firm provide solutions to help agencies meet their missions. The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but APG’s revenue last year was nearly $42 million. (CACI)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to modernize its air traffic control system is hitting turbulence. Problems have delayed deployment of a critical flight-tracking system. FAA Inspector General Calvin Scovel told a House Committee the problem threatens to increase the system’s cost and delay its completion. The agency also hasn’t set deadlines for when key aspects of the new air traffic system will be in place, Scovel said. Nor has FAA made clear to airlines what benefits they can expect. Scovel said that’s discouraging airlines and others from spending money on replacing cockpit equipment necessary to transition to the new air traffic system. (Federal News Radio)
  • FDA will augment its scientific staff with independent outside experts. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health is asking for comments on its plan to establish the network, which would provide staff with specialized knowledge quickly. The center is also conducting a 12-week test of the plan. The expert network would be different from FDA’s advisory boards, where membership requires a federal hiring process. That, the FDA says, creates lags when expertise is needed quickly. The request for comments covers two components to the plan. One is a set of procedures for how to vet and enroll outside experts. The other is for how to use them once they’re enrolled. (FDA)
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline passed a milestone this week: It received its three millionth call. The Lifeline is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It started up in 2005 and now receives more than 2,000 calls every day. The Lifeline has become a big operation, with 150 crisis centers and special technology linking callers to the nearest center. One in five callers asks to be connected to the Veterans Crisis Line, operated by the VA. (SAMHSA)