Tuesday morning federal headlines – Nov. 29, 2011

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The FAA continues to migrate the current air traffic control system to NextGen. The Next Generation Air Transportation System will transform the current radar-based system into a satellite-based one. The European Union is doing it too, except their system is called the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research programme, or SESAR. NextGen and SESAR systems will have to be able to talk to each other. The Government Accountability Office says that so far, both groups are working together well. But, GAO investigators say the FAA needs to keep its stakeholders in the loop, especially when it comes to how NextGen will work with the SESAR system. (GAO)
  • A new policy would require all suspected terrorists to be held in military custody, the Associated Press reported. But the FBI says that’s too restrictive. FBI Director Robert Mueller raised his concerns in a letter to lawmakers. Mueller says the requirement would have a negative impact on open terrorism investigations and discourage detainees from cooperating with the United States. Republican lawmakers disagreed saying the bill was bipartisan and built to create clear lines of authority when it comes to handling suspected terrorists. The policy is tied to a massive Defense bill currently being crafted in Congress. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Obama administration has ordered agencies to overhaul electronic records management. Agencies have 30 days to designate a senior manager to review handling of e-records. They have 120 days to complete their reviews and submit them to the National Archives and Records Administration. The latest presidential memo stresses the importance of email, instant messages and tweets to governmental decision-making. The order comes after a NARA survey found most agencies have weak processes to protect e-records. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate has voted to expand the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Associated Press reported. It would include the National Guard chief. The vote comes despite opposition from the current chairman and the armed services chiefs. The effort to include the National Guard was spearheaded by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). They had 70 co-sponsors. Leahy argued, the Army and Air National Guard roles have changed since 9/11. Many Guard members were sent to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal safety panel is calling for more oversight of federal aircraft operated by contractors, the Associated Press reported. The National Transportation Safety Board has investigated 349 accidents since 2000 in which 135 people died. At a forum tomorrow, the Board will suggest more accountability and more clearly defined lines of authority over nonmilitary government aircraft. Federal, state and local agencies own or lease more than 2,400 planes and helicopters. Most are operated by by contractors, who police their own safety. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Justice and Homeland Security Departments are launching a crackdown on counterfeit goods, according to the Associated Press. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has shut down 150 websites selling fake merchandise. ICE Director John Morton warns, some counterfeit property poses health and safety risks. Attorney General Eric Holder will announce a campaign later today to warn the public to avoid counterfeit goods. Imitations range from sports jerseys to computer parts. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded a supercomputing contract to IBM. NextGov reports, the deal is worth $502 million over 10 years. The new contract follows a 2002 supercomputing award to IBM. In its request for proposals last year, NOAA called for a new Weather and Climate Operation Supercomputing System. It will replace a system now in use at NOAA’s office in Camp Springs, Md. The agency’s strategic plan calls for computers running at petaflop speed, or one quadrillion mathematical operations per second. The power will be applied to hurricane predictions. (NextGov)