Monday morning federal headlines – Nov. 7

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.

  • Four agencies are running pilot programs to change the way they manage contractors. The Veterans Affairs, Interior and Education Departments, along with the Patent and Trademark Office are each creating single points of entry for contractors. The new federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel, said the government now has an infinite number of front doors, creating confusion and adding to costs. He’s urging all agencies to set up vendor management offices. (Federal News Radio)
  • The IRS is the latest agency to offer employee buyouts and early retirements. Commissioner Doug Shulman says buyout offers will extend only to employees not in direct tax service or enforcement. In a statement, Shulman called the 2012 budget outlook challenging. Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved bills cutting the IRS budget by around $600 million. Shulman isn’t ruling out a second round of buyouts that would include people working directly in taxpayer services. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employee unions are objecting to a House committee move to cut the federal payroll. Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, is calling the move wrongheaded, misguided and based on false assumptions. Last week the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce. The bill would let agencies replace only one out of three people who left. The vote wasn’t totally on party lines. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) joined committee Republicans in voting for the measure. The bill also calls for a reduction in payments to contractors. (Federal News Radio)

    Veterans Affairs is getting ready to launch its own online jobs site. The ‘VA for Vets’ website has a job search board, self-assessment tools, resume builder and military skills translator to help vets find jobs that match their skills. It matches them to openings within the department. VA is currently running a pilot version of the site with limited access. More than 3,500 job opening are already listed. The official site launches on Veteran’s Day, which is Nov. 11.

  • The House Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas to the Homeland Security Department. The committee wants information on illegal immigrants identified but not detained or deported. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is looking into the Secure Communities program. Under Secure Communities, DHS collects fingerprints from local jails to identify illegal immigrants. Those who commit crimes are supposed to be deported first. Smith said the administration is not always carrying out its own policy. DHS officials say they’re working on the request for records. (Federal News Radio)
  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport was one of eight airports to win approval from Customs and Border Protection to provide flights to and from Cuba. The Washington Business Journal reports that Island Travel and Tours will start the weekly chartered service in March. The Obama administration loosened regulations on travel sanctions, expanding religious, academic and journalistic travel to Cuba. Customs chose airports with customs and immigration systems that could handle flights to and from Cuba. (Washington Business Journal)