Tuesday morning federal headlines – Jan. 24, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • We’re learning of at least one proposal from tonight’s State of the Union speech. President Barack Obama will renew his call to create a national broadband network for emergency responders. Capacity for that network would have to come from spectrum now used by television broadcasters. A big question is how public safety agencies would get the required bandwidth. Aneesh Chopra is the administration’s chief technology officer. He speculates a network provision will be attached to the bill extending payroll tax cuts. (Federal News Radio)
  • If you’re holding your breath waiting for the president’s 2013 budget numbers, you can exhale. The White House says it’s delaying release of President Obama’s budget for one week. It was first scheduled to come out Monday, Feb. 6. Now it will be Feb. 13. An administration official says staff needs more time to finalize decisions. The president delivers his fourth State of the Union speech tonight, and will likely reveal at least some budget proposals. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Obama nominates three people for undersecretary jobs at the Defense Department. He names Erin Conaton to personnel and readiness. She’s been Air Force undersecretary since 2010. Conaton would replace Clifford Stanley, who left last year amid charges of abusive management. The president named Frank Kendall to acquisition, technology and logistics. He’s been deputy to Ashton Carter, who was promoted to deputy secretary. The president named James Miller to the top policy slot, replacing Michelle Flournoy. (Federal News Radio)
  • The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found a friend — the Federal Trade Commission. The two agencies sign an agreement to coordinate their efforts. Since the two have similar missions, officials want to avoid duplication of effort and ganging up on regulated companies. FTC chairman Jon Liebowitz and CFPB director Richard Cordray signed the memo. It calls for the two staffs so meet regularly, to inform one another of enforcement actions and to share complaints coming in from consumers. (Federal Trade Commission)
  • Book that trip overseas. You can now apply for a U.S. Passport card online. The State Department is launching a 90-day pilot program. It allows U.S. citizens to apply for the travel cards digitally, instead of having to mail in their current passport book and other forms. The agency hopes it will help save them time and money. Participants in the pilot must have a valid passport, upload a digital picture and make an online payment in using Pay.gov. The pilot program is the department’s main initiative to meet a presidential order to simplify customer service interactions. The wallet-sized passport card is a low-cost alternative to the passport book. (State Department)
  • The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is preparing to welcome the space shuttle Discovery into its collection, the Associated Press reports. Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough says the shuttle will be flown to Washington Dulles International Airport on the back of a Boeing 747 in April. A flyover is also planned above the nation’s capital on April 17. The Discovery will makes its final home at the museum’s massive hangar in Northern Virginia. The remaining Shuttle Endeavour will travel to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the second half of the year. (Associated Press)
  • Veterans Affairs finds big problems at several of its cemeteries nationwide. VA says in at least eight cases, people were buried in the wrong plots. The Washington Post, also reports mismarked and unmarked graves. The problems apparently stem from renovations at seven cemeteries across the country. VA says contractors temporarily removed headstones and put them back in the wrong places. The department is working to contact affected families and fix the problems. (Washington Post)
  • The Air Force is giving Boeing $693 million to build five more C-17 transport jets. It’s a contract modification. The service branch ordered the first five aircraft in May 2011. Boeing will build the jets in its Long Beach, Calif., plant and hopes to finish by March 2013. (Defense.gov)
  • Federal job bias claims rise to an all-time high. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission says workers filed almost 100,000 claims in fiscal 2011.That’s the most in its 46-year history. Charges of discrimination based on religion and national origin drove the up-tick. On the flip side, claims of racial and sexual discrimination fell. (Federal News Radio)