Friday morning federal headlines – Nov. 4

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.

  • Performance is improving for the new version of The site is no longer in a death spiral, Office of Personnel Management director John Berry said. However, the staff is still working to fix glitches. He said USAJobs is handling 700,000 visitors a day. OPM took over operation of the re-designed site last month from Monster Government Solutions. It immediately ran into problems when it was swamped with users. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) wants OPM to re-bid the contract. Monster is headquartered in Massachusetts. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army is always working to maintain readiness. Now there’s a new front: renewable energy. Brass want 25 percent of the Army’s energy to come from renewable sources like solar and wind. So now the Army is working towards improving its efficiency at installing panels, windmills and algae ponds. Katherine Hammack, the Army’s assistant secretary for installations, said predictability is why the Army established an energy initiatives task force. The Army plans to hand out $30 million in grants to help it test and develop new energy technologies.
  • Jack Lew is optimistic Congress won’t shut down the government when the continuing resolution ends Nov. 18. But the Office of Management and Budget director won’t say whether the administration would freeze federal pay for another year. Regardless, Lew says federal workers should not think they’re being singled out. He told reporters at a Politico forum both he and President Obama have high regard for the workforce. It’s just that sometimes, the fiscal situation requires tough measures. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House Energy and Commerce committee plans to subpoena the administration for documents about the Solyndra affair. Solyndra is the solar panel company that went bankrupt after receiving a half-billion-dollar federal loan guarantee. The committee voted on party lines. Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said the administration is stonewalling congressional requests for information and that getting documents from the Energy Department is like pulling a tooth without novocaine. Democrats say Upton is overreaching. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is giving its workforce an extreme makeover. They’re eliminating 9,000 support and management jobs, and adding 5,900 positions in areas like nuclear enterprise, acquisition, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Air Force Materiel Command is the biggest civilian employer in the force — They’re losing about 1,000 jobs. The move is in response to a Defense Department mandate to halt civilian growth above fiscal year 2010 levels. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy says it’s new network will cost less to run than it first thought. Leaders there have lowered cost projections for the Next Generation Enterprise Network by $500 million a year, Nextgov reports. They’re expecting the annual price tag to be $1.5 billion. But still, that’s more than $1 billion they pay for the current network. (Nextgov)
  • Officials at Arlington National Cemetery put on a command performance later today. They’ll brief Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on efforts to reform management of the cemetery. McCaskill chairs the subcommittee that’s been investigating Arlington. The cemetery has been working to modernize ever since discovering hundreds of mis-marked graves last year. McCaskill will take a tour of the nation’s most hallowed ground. (Federal News Radio)
  • Freddie Mac has already borrowed more than $72 billion in taxpayer funds. Now, the government-owned company says it needs to borrow another $6 billion from the federal government, Reuters reports. It just posted its worst quarterly loss in more than a year — more than $4.4 billion. And, they believe things are going to get worse before they get better because of more downward pressure on housing prices into next year. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were seized by the government in 2008 as mortgage losses piled up, threatening their solvency. Between them, they own or guarantee about half of all mortgages in the country, so the Treasury sees them as ‘too big to fail.’
  • Baltimore ranks high on the list of the top digital cities recognized by the Center for Digital Government. The survey focused on how cities use technology to make their operations more efficient. It also looked at how city governments used IT to meet their objectives — even with budget cuts. Baltimore ranked 9th in the category of cities with 250,000 people or more — tied with Virginia Beach. Alexandria, Va., ranked third among cities with more than 125,000 people. Click here for the full results.