Monday morning federal headlines – Jan. 9, 2012

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.

  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement wants to train 7,000 officers to carry out a new deportation strategy. But the union representing the officers is saying no. The New York Times reports, the National ICE Council says White House policy is forcing its members not to enforce immigration law. At issue is the policy of focusing deportation efforts on high-risk illegals. ICE Commanding officers and prosecutors have all had the training. But the agency will have to bargain with the union in order to get the rest of the agents to carry out the strategy. (New York Times)
  • A new system for evaluating the performance of senior executives will be good for some, tough on others. Those receiving low marks could be demoted or asked to leave. Those receiving high marks should find it easier to enhance their careers by moving among agencies. The 13-page evaluation form will be used government-wide. It requires supervisors to rank SES members on a one-to-five scale. Executives will be rated on their ability to lead change, manage people and build coalitions. (Federal News Radio)
  • A military museum will get a new trophy thanks to an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE agents said a military airplane was flown to the United States illegally. And that the owner smuggled 20 millimeter cannons for the plane in shipping containers. A federal judge in Alabama agreed. He ordered Claude Hendrickson of Woodstock, Ala., to forfeit the plane and its weapons to the government. ICE will donate the historic Douglas 4N Skyraider to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. (ICE)
  • The State Department has named January as 21st Century Statecraft month. Twenty-first Century Statecraft adds a big dose of online social media to the conduct of foreign policy. Alec Ross, State’s senior advisor for innovation, holds a video web chat tomorrow morning. The Embassy in Port Au Prince, Haiti hosts a Twitter question-and-answer session on Wednesday. And the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna holds a Virtual Town Hall about nuclear weapons on Friday. State and the Fish and Wildlife Service join forces to showcase photography on World Wetlands Day next month. State is accepting snapshops on its Flickr page until Jan. 20. (State Department)
  • The Navy has unveiled a new disaster response van that uses solar and wind energy to power its computers and communications equipment in the field, Government Computer News reports. It’s being built by the Navy’s Salvage Service. Just like other command vehicles it is equipped with a high frequency radio, satellite phone and a network interface that lets it use any nearby cell phone tower. Unlike other vehicles, it carries a solar panel array and wind generators. It was built in response to Hurricane Katrina and the challenges responders faced in the field to fuel their generators. (Government Computer News)
  • President Obama plans to propose a slight thaw in the federal pay freeze. It’s not enough to keep pace with inflation, but it would be a break from the moratorium on raises that feds have been under for the past two years. Early details of the budget the president will submit to Congress next month indicate the administration wants to bump salaries upward by half a percentage point. The increase would have to be approved by the House and Senate, where it could run into competing legislative agendas proposing to extend the freeze for at least another year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel says he expects 2012 to be a year of progress on what he thinks is one of federal IT’s major shortcomings: Recruiting people with business experience. One program, Entrepeneurs in Residence, is designed to temporarily rotate people with private sector IT management expertise into government agencies. VanRoekel says he plans to ramp that effort up in 2012. A second, the Presidential Technology Fellows program, creates a pool of talent made up of people with graduate-level IT experience that agencies can hire from directly. VanRoekel says he has commitments from each agency CIO to hire at least one person from that program this year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army is awarding a contract to more than a half dozen vendors to help it with its data center consolidation plans. Out of the 11 firms that placed bids, eight of them are named in the service’s Army Private Cloud indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery contract. And they’ll all compete for individual task orders. The overall five-year deal is valued at $250 million. It’s part of the Army’s effort to close or consolidate 185 data centers by the end of 2014. (Federal News Radio)
  • A major defense contractor is getting hit with another class-action lawsuit for allegedly mishandling the personal information of military members and retirees. NextGov reports, the suit was filed in a state court in California. It claims Science Applications International Corporation violated state laws by failing to protect the records of 4.9 million TRICARE beneficiaries, and also failed to follow state laws requiring notification to the victims of the data breach. The records were stored on backup tapes stolen out of an SAIC employee’s personal vehicle. (NextGov)
  • The Air Force plans to buy several thousand iPads for use by its special operations command, Information Week reports. The service wants to procure upwards of 2,800 iPad 2 tablets to replace paper publications that are regularly issued to pilots by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the Air Force. A notice the Air Force posted on FedBizOpps says each member of the command’s air crews would receive their own iPad, and it would improve the existing paper-based system by making updates to publications almost instantaneous and less costly. (Information Week)