Tuesday morning federal headlines – Feb. 21, 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.

  • President Obama isn’t waiting for Congress to give him authority to reorganize trade agencies. He’s asking the Export Promotion Cabinet to align interagency efforts to promote U.S. exports. The export cabinet includes the Secretaries of Commerce, State, Treasury, Agriculture and Labor and the heads of all the trade-related government agencies. Mike Froman, the assistant to the President for international economic affairs, will coordinate their efforts. Plus the administration launches BusinessUSA.gov, a portal for business that need to interact with the federal government. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal agencies will soon be able to shop for cloud computing services at an online store. The General Services Administration is building that store. It expects to be up and running by the end of the year. Commercial cloud providers will sell their services there. And so will other agencies that may have unused computing capacity. Or, they might have a software available for licensing by other agencies. Dave McClure, a GSA associate administrator, says he wants the online store to help soak up excess federal data center space. Two agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Labor Department, plan to move financial systems to a private cloud. (Federal News Radio)
  • The federal government is looking beyond the nation’s school cafeterias. They’re moving on to the vending machines down the hall. The New York Times reports, the Obama administration is preparing nutrition standards for food students buy outside of the cafeteria. The rules could be ready in a few weeks. At stake is $2.3 billion worth of annual school vending machine sales. Health advocates predict the rules will replace regular potato chips with baked, and regular peanuts with low-salt versions. (New York Times)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is explaining its plan to help uninsured Americans get health insurance. OPM wants to contract with multi-state health plans that will be part of new insurance exchanges. It’s also working to give employees of some tribal groups access to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. This is all part of the healthcare reform bill, and OPM details its plan in new 2013 budget documents. (2013 Budget)
  • The government is paying more to maintain federal property. The General Services Administration says the administration paid $1.5 billion more in 2010 compared with the previous year. The total price tag hit $31 billion. But Federal Times reports the price of maintaining excess and underutilized property fell by just a bit. Agencies are stepping up efforts to get rid of what they don’t need. (Federal Times)
  • Switching to dollar coins might save less federal money than first thought. The Government Accountability Office says getting rid of paper notes could save $4 billion over 30 years. That’s down from an estimate last year that pegged the number at $5.5 billion. And either way, the government would lose money at first to pay for the new coins. Still, GAO says there is a benefit because the coins last longer. (GAO)