Friday morning federal headlines – Dec. 16, 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • CSC has landed a $67 million contract to continue helping immigration officials figure out who is legal and who is not. The Washington Business Journal reports that CSC will continue to operate the Verification Information System for Citizenship and Immigration Services. That includes the E-Verify program that allows businesses to see who is eligible to work in the U.S. CBS has been doing this for 10 years. Under this contract, it will continue for another year, with another year-long option, and two, six-month options. CSC posted a nearly $3 billion loss in the latest quarter. (Washington Business Journal)
  • Congress appears on track to avert a government shutdown this weekend. There may be a compromise on finding spending cuts to pay for the expiring Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Democratic leaders are proposing a shorter two-month, $40 billion extension of the tax breaks and jobless benefits, for now. That could put the House on track to pass the massive, $1 trillion omnibus spending bill to fund government through the rest of the year. A vote is set for this afternoon. A stopgap bill option remains on standby if negotiations are snagged at the last minute. Meanwhile. federal agencies have released guidance to workers briefing them on what could go down in the event of a partial government shutdown. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate is beginning work on a FISMA update. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) says congressional staff is reviewing draft language of the comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, which includes an update to the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) promised to work on a cyber bill during the early part of the Senate session in 2012. Senate lawmakers have been trying to update FISMA for the last three years. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal commuters will soon be shelling out more money to get to work, if Congress doesn’t step in. The public transit benefit that feds use to take the subway, bus or vanpool to work will drop on January First from $230 a month to $125. The mass-transit benefit is one of several tax provisions set to expire at the end of this month. More than 70 lawmakers have written to House and Senate leaders urging them to stick extension language in any spending bill Congress that passes. They say it could be done without increasing federal spending. The 2009 stimulus bill raised the public transit benefit to the current level for a year. It was extended for one year. (Federal News Radio)
  • GSA is going to pick and choose which Metro rail sites would be best for federal agencies. Metro’s Board of Directors has signed off on an agreement that clears the way for the General Services Administration to pick the sites then build facilities for feds. The Washington Business Journal reports Metro will offer up sites it owns throughout its rail system that are large enough to accommodate at least 500,000 square feet of development. Then, GSA can choose which agencies have space needs large enough to fit on those sites. The idea is to let federal agencies serve as anchors for larger, mixed-use developments near Metro rail sites. (Washington Business Journal)
  • Major improvements have been made at Arlington Cemetery, but more work must be done. The Government Accountability Office says officials are making progress in the management of Arlington National Cemetery, after reports of widespread problems, including mis-identified gravesites. GAO says more improvements must be made, like information-technology planning, workforce planning, assessments of operations and coordination. But GAO also isn’t convinced it is a good idea to transfer cemetery management from the Army to Veterans Affairs. Another progress report mandated by Congress is expected next week. (GAO)