Thursday morning federal headlines – Feb. 2, 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.

  • The House has voted to freeze federal salaries through 2013. Many Democrats voted with the Republican majority in favor of the freeze. The bill also holds the line on Congressional salaries. In pushing the bill, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) cited a Congressional Budget Office Report published Monday. It found the government spends 16 percent more on compensation than the private sector. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Congressional Budget Office says high deficits will continue for a few more years, then drop back to historical levels. This year, CBO projects a federal deficit of $1.1 trillion. It will drop to $200 billion and average 1.5 percent of gross domestic product through 2022. But CBO cautions that the improved fiscal forecast makes several presumptions about what Congress will and won’t do about taxes. CBO says federal discretionary spending will fall, but be more than offset by increases in entitlement spending. (CBO)
  • The General Services Administration plans to award the second version of its E-Travel system by April. GSA announced in today’s Federal Register civilian agencies will be required to use the new system. GSA recommends agencies begin preparing to move to the new travel system in 2012. GSA wants agencies to sign an agreement outlining the steps it must take to transition from version 1 to version 2. In 2003, GSA awarded three vendors contracts to provide e-travel systems to the civilian agencies. But under the latest contract, GSA expects to pick only one or two winners. GSA is strongly encouraging agencies to transition to the new system quickly once it’s ready. The agency says the transaction fees to use version 1 will increase significantly. (Federal Register)
  • The Justice Department and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government reform committee are butting heads. Chairman Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) is threatening to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Holder has refused to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious operation. That’s a failed effort by Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace gun smuggling in Mexico. The standoff continues on the Hill today at a hearing. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sailors with at least 15 years of experience could be eligible for early retirement. But it’s going to cost you. The Navy says any sailor who is not selected for retention by the 2012 Enlistment Retention Board can apply for the early out. Under the terms detailed by Congress, sailors leaving early would get a reduced monthly stipend. The Navy previously announced it would reduce its ranks by more than 3,000 sailors as part of a force management effort. The Navy says high retention rates have left the Navy over-manned in certain positions. The service says it’s goal is to rebalance the force in terms of seniority, experience and skills. (Federal News Radio)
  • Northrop Grumman is the big winner to upgrade the networks that run on the Navy’s ships. The Navy awarded Northrop a $637 million contract to consolidate and improve computer systems on 54 of the service’s 286 ships. Under the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES, program, the Navy chose Northrop over Lockheed Martin. The Navy expects to implement the first network under CANES on a fleet destroyer in late fiscal 2012. Over the next eight years, the Navy says it will deploy CANES across more than 180 ships, submarines and maritime operations centers. The service says CANES will merge five shipboard networks and provide a common computing environment for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence applications. After the initial deployment, the Navy says it will hold another procurement competition to deploy CANES across the remaining ships and subs. (
  • The CIA and Defense Department might be delivering crippling blows to Al Qaida. But the Homeland Security Department has doubled the size of its no-fly list in the last year. According to figures obtained by the AP, the no-fly list now has 21,000 names. That’s up from 11,000 a year ago. Most of the people on the list are foreigners. Only 500 Americans appear on the list. The no-fly list started a growth spurt after the 2009 bombing attempt of a plane headed for Detroit. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology is putting up $10 million to get rid of usernames and passwords. NIST released a federal funding opportunity yesterday asking for private sector proposals to test the concepts of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace or N-STIC. NIST says it will award five to eight projects between $1.25 million and $2 million for up to two years. The pilot programs will cover the four principles of N-STIC to make identity management secure, interoperable, privacy enhancing and cost effective. Proposals are due March 7. NIST will host an industry day Feb. 15 in Washington. (NIST)
  • The IRS is launching filters to help spot and stop identity fraud in online tax forms. The bad news — it could mean some delays in processing your return. It’s part of a crackdown on identity theft and tax refund fraud. The IRS says the news system has already helped flush out 105 people in 23 states who filed bogus returns. But the agency says, it has also caused delays of about a week for early tax return filers to get their money back. IRS says, those delays aren’t expected to last. (IRS)