Friday morning federal headlines – Dec. 9. 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.

  • A two-year-old initiative to improve cloud computing security has taken a step forward. Federal CIO Stephen Van Roekel gave out details on how the process of certifying cloud providers will actually work. It’s called Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP. The idea is for a multi-agency board to approve cloud vendors once and have that certification recognized for all government customers. Van Roekel’s policy memo also set deadlines and named DOD, Homeland Security and the General Services Administrations as the certifying authorities. OMB has been at work on FedRAMP for more than two years, trying to get agencies to increase their use of cloud computing. (Federal News Radio)
  • Tough reviews of troubled IT projects have saved the government big money. Federal CIO Stephen Van Roekel says, since the so-called TechStat sessions started two years ago, agencies have saved or avoided spending nearly a billion dollars. OMB leads the TechStat sessions in which a panel of experts grills CIOs over why projects are late or overbudget. Van Roekel says TechStat has caused the cancellation of some projects but improved management of many more. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force is scrounging around to save a billion dollars in information technology spending over the next five years. That’s on top of more than a billion dollars in savings it’s already planning to slash. Lt. Gen. Michael Basla is vice commander of the Air Force Space Command. He says savings could come from reducing the number of application the Air Force supports. He’s also looking at moving more applications to a cloud facility operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Basla says unclassified e-mail, and the directory services that support it, are good candidates for the cloud. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army plans to cut 8,700 civilian jobs by next September. Reductions will occur in 70 locations in 37 states. The bulk of the cuts will come from the Installation Management, Materiel, and Training and Doctrine Commands. Thomas R. Lamont is assistant Army secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. He says tight budgets are forcing the reduction in staff. Some workers will be offered early retirement benefits.(Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate rejected President Obama’s choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The party-line vote touches off a battle about the future of the agency. Republicans want it restructured so it is run by a five-member commission. The president is considering giving Richard Cordray, a recess appointment, which would put him in the job until the end of next year. Without a director, the agency is unable to operate at full strength. Since it was started in 2010, the bureau has not had a confirmed leader. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Labor Department wants to force contractors to hire more people with disabilities. A proposed rule would require 7 percent of companies’ workforces to be made up of the disabled. The rule is published in today’s Federal Register. You have 60 days to comment. The rule would also apply to subcontractors. And it would impose a new reporting requirements on companies to prove they are meeting the requirement. Until now, companies only had to make good faith efforts at hiring the disabled. (Federal News Radio)
  • Auditors with the Government Accountability Office say that the Defense Contract Audit Agency needs to start working more closely with contractors’ internal audit departments. Defense companies have internal audit departments to monitor policies, procedures, and business systems related to their government contracts. GAO says that DCAA should come up with a plan that would allow them to have access to those audits. DoD officials agreed, but were skeptical that it would actually do the trick to get them full access. (Government Accountability Office)
  • A member of Congress fired three staff members for drinking on the job and then tweeting about it. Washington Democrat Rick Larsen says he didn’t know what was going on until a conservative blogger in his home district published the tweets. The tweets told of staffers Seth Burroughs, Ben Byers and Elizabeth Robblee taking shots of Jack Daniels and then blowing off work. Burroughs also tweeted that his boss was an idiot. Don’t look for the Twitter feeds — those accounts have been deleted. (Federal News Radio)
  • Outsourcing is dead at the Defense Department…for now. Acting Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Jo Ann Rooney is reminding Pentagon staff about the moratorium on A-76 competitions. Gov Exec reports the fiscal 2012 Financial Services and General Governmentwide appropriations bill includes a ban on those competitions across government. (Gov Exec)
  • NASA has awarded TASC a five-year contract to provide highly-specialized system-software services. The cost-plus-award-fee contract has a potential value of $133.9 million dollars. TASC, which provides verification and validation software engineering, will partner with other vendors to pull this off. The company has already teamed up with fifteen other contractors including Azimuth, KeyLogic, SAIC and others. Under the contract, TASC and its partners will provide independent verification and validation, software assurance, research and development and technical quality monitoring. (TASC)