Thursday morning federal headlines – Dec. 15, 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.

  • You might not be able to use your iPad during takeoff and landing, but your pilot can. The Federal Aviation Administration says pilots on American Airlines flights would be allowed to use iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit starting tomorrow, even during takeoff and landing.The FAA tells the New York Times that it had tested the iPad for use in the cockpit and that each pilot is limited to one device. With the 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth all being turned off, there was no interference. No word on why they haven’t tested the cabin so passengers can use their iPads and Kindles, too. (New York Times)
  • The clock is ticking closer toward Dec 16. That’s when the current continuing resolution funding government is set to expire. Stalls in the debate over an omnibus spending bill mean a partial government shutdown could be around the corner. Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have netted near-agreement on the omnibus bill, but it appears to be held up by the wrangling over the payroll tax cut. A House bill extends the soon-to-expire Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits by adding another year to the pay freeze on federal employees and increasing their pension contributions. Democrats in the Senate oppose those measures. The White House is now pushing for another CR to stave off a shutdown until a compromise can be reached. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration has inked a deal for more than 103,000-square feet in Landover, Md. GSA will use the space for its Support Services Division. This is big for Prince George’s County, after it was passed over for an agency of Health and Human Services. The Washington Business Journal says the 10-year lease is for industrial space at the Wilson R. Gale building at 3101 Pennsy Drive. (Washington Business Journal)
  • Agencies have several new deadlines to meet, including tomorrow’s deadline to tell the Office of Management & Budget how much money was saved through data center consolidation. Federal News Radio obtained a copy of the IT budget passback guidance. That’s where OMB detailed new mandates for agencies, including identifying the net cost savings from consolidation. OMB also wants an itemization of how much money was saved, and where, so it can measure whether consolidation worked. (Federal News Radio)
  • A massive defense bill is on the brink of final passage thanks to a last minute compromise over a provision dealing with terrorist suspects. The House voted overwhelmingly to pass the $662 billion measure Wednesday night. The rare bipartisan vote would authorize spending for the military for 2012. The House vote came just hours after the administration abandoned a veto threat over provisions dealing with the handling of terrorism suspects. The bill would require the military to take custody of possible terrorists, but now has an exemption for American citizens. New language also guarantees existing investigations won’t be affected and the president can waive the provision based on national security. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service and its two largest unions must agree on a new labor contract before tomorrow’s deadline, according to a Postal Service press release. That date has been pushed back twice already. The contracts with the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union expired in late November. The Postal Service wants the power to layoff workers and make other workforce decisions it needs to remain solvent. If negotiations fail, a process begins in which a third party could determines contract terms and work rules for a combined 240,000 employees. (Postal Service)