Monday morning federal headlines – Dec. 12, 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.

  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched an effort to cut new weapons development by 80 percent. DARPA researchers want to see if each part in a complex system can be modeled and tested in cyberspace before they are put together physically. The Advanced Vehicle Make project has already shown the concept can work for vehicles. The challenge is to see if it can work for ships and airplanes. DARPA is asking industry for ideas on how to create what it calls the iFab process. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy has delayed the final request-for-proposals for a new networked communications system. Instead, the Navy is giving industry more time to comment on a draft set of instructions. Comments are open until Dec. 19. The Navy didn’t give a date for the final RFP, except to say it won’t occur before February. The multi-billion dollar Next Generation Enterprise Network, or N-GEN, will eventually replace the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. A Navy spokesman said initial comments showed a lot of industry concern with the draft RFP.(Federal News Radio)
  • House Republicans have unveiled their version of a plan for extending the payroll tax cut. It includes extending a freeze on federal salaries boosting federal employees’ retirement contributions. It would extend the current freeze another year to 2013. Starting in January 2013, federal employees’ contributions to their pension plan would increase annually, until it reaches 2.3 percent. For new federal employees, the contribution would be more then 3 percent. The bill would change the salary calculation for pension benefits. Annuities would be based on the final five years worked, rather then three. (Federal News Radio)
  • Not everyone agrees that the so-called “civilian BRAC bill” would save much money. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says that the bill would cost the nation $200 million over the next five years. But the sponsor of the bill says that figure is inflated. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) sponsored the Civilian Property Realignment Act. A spokeswoman for his office tells the Washington Business Journal that the bill would actually trim millions in federal real estate costs and even with the start up costs would net the federal government nearly $600 million. (Washington Business Journal)
  • The Senate has approved a bill to give American flags to families of civil servants killed while on the job. The House passed a similar measure last month. The Civilian Service Recognition Act passed the Senate unanimously. GovExec reports, the measure applies to civilian federal employees killed by a criminal or terrorist or by natural disaster. Since 1992, 3,000 federal workers have been killed in the line of duty, according to Office of Personnel Management estimates. (GovExec)
  • Four Nuclear Regulatory commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, say they have grave concerns about NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko’s leadership. They tell the White House, Jaczko’s bullying and high-handed style is causing serious damage to the commission. They say he’s caused a chilled work environment at the NRC. They worry Jaczko could impair the NRC’s mission to ensure safety of the nation’s nuclear reactors. Jaczko counters that his four colleagues have a lack of understanding. Jaczko faces hearings this week in the House and Senate. At issue is whether Jaczko was correct in declaring damage to a Japanese reactor an emergency for the United States. (Federal News Radio)
  • A deal between Boeing and a labor union means the National Labor Relations Board will drop a case against the defense contractor. The NLRB was challenging the opening of a nonunion plant in South Carolina. Under the deal, Boeing will build the new version of its 737 in Washington state, and the Machinists union will drop its complaint to the NLRB that resulted in the case. (Federal News Radio)
  • Maybe there’s a way for Congress to help federal managers with their performance. That’s the latest in a study by the Government Accountability Office. GAO says that The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 calls for a more coordinated approach to meaningful results. GAO auditors say that if GPRAMA were implemented the way it was intended, it would be easier to identify the agencies and programs that are working without duplication. GAO says that a lot of federal programs, including homeland security, ensuring food safety and monitoring incidence of infectious disease require collaboration between agencies. That collaboration can be made more effective with the implementation of GPRAMA. (GAO)