Friday morning federal headlines – Dec. 30, 2011

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive host Tom Temin discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • A new clause in a defense contract will hold the contractor financially responsible for defective parts. Bloomberg reports, the Missile Defense Agency added the clause in seeking bids for a missile development project. It’s the first time anyone has used the clause. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are competing for the $600 million deal. The language is called the Contractor Accountability for Quality Clause. The agency tells lawmakers, the clause will let the government reduce or eliminate performance fees if the contractor delivers low-quality goods. (Bloomberg)
  • An advisory group has a heap of advice for how the federal government can help women-owned businesses. The National Women’s Business Council recommends tax incentives to boost lending by banks and investors. It calls for better statistics on federal contracting with women-owned companies. And it wants full funding for the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, which tracks characteristics such as gender. The Council’s recommendations are part of its 2011 annual report to the President and Congress. (NWBC)
  • The administration has confirmed plans to sell a flock of new fighter jets to Saudia Arabia. Under terms of the $30 billion deal, the Saudis will get 84 new F-15S-As and upgrades to 70 others. President Obama says the sale will generate $3.5 billion annually for the U.S. economy. And, he says, it will support 50,000 jobs. Boeing is the prime contractor for the twin-engine F-15 series. The sales confirmation and Saudi military boost come as Iran warns it might block shipping traffic through the Strait of Hormuz. (Federal News Radio)
  • The CIA has issued a statement, saying director and former four-star Gen. David Petraeus did not consider resigning the Army over President Obama’s withdrawal plans for Afghanistan. Earlier, we reported that a forthcoming biography of Petraeus said, he’d thought about it but decided against what he called grandstanding. It turns out, Petraeus was urged to quit by Max Boot, a conservative writer who frequently covers military affairs. The Associated Press describes the biography as part hagiography and part defense of Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy. The book is co-authored by Paula Broadwell and Vernon Loeb of the Washington Post. (Federal News Radio)
  • A growing number of U.S. troops are getting high on the herbal mix known as Spice. Smoking the mixture mimics the effects of marijuana. The armed services have investigated more than 1,000 suspected users this year. Mark Ridley, deputy director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, says the Navy has a zero tolerance policy toward use of spice. Seven hundred sailors were suspected of using it this year. The Air Force has punished nearly 500 users. The Army doesn’t track total figures but says it treated 119 soldiers medically for use of Spice. Spice is made from dried leaves of exotic Asian plants. (Federal News Radio)
  • Stop before you talk. Maybe you will be able to avoid using phrases on this year’s List of Banished Words from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. the list is prepared by Lake Superior State University. Among the offending words this year: Win the Future, Occupy, The New Normal and Shared Sacrifice. In all, a dozen words or phrases made the 37th annual list. The word receiving the most nominations? Amazing. (Federal News Radio)
  • One senator is calling on international regulators to scale back plans to expand the number of domain names on the Internet. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. NextGov reports, he’s rallying other telecomm leaders to ask the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to change its plans. ICANN wants to roll out unlimited new generic domain names that could include names of companies, like dot-facebook. Rockefeller worries thousands of new domain names could cost business millions by forcing them to defend their brands and could increase Internet fraud.(NextGov)
  • The Homeland Security Department is launching a hot line for people jailed on suspected immigration charges. They can call if they believe they are the victims of crime or may be U.S. Citizens. The toll free hot line will be staffed 24 hours a day and run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Staffers answer questions about whether they may face deportation proceedings. It’s the latest move by the Obama administration to address concerns about suspected illegal immigrants being held in local jails. (WTOP)