Friday morning federal headlines – March 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 Senate now has two competing cyber security bills to consider. The new bill was unveiled yesterday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). It sets up data sharing between the federal government and private sector operators of critical infrastructure. The competing bill gives the Homeland Security Department more authority to regulate cybersecurity practices of those operators. That bill came out last week, led by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). Both bills would update the Federal Information Security Management Act. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Social Security Administration is close to a new contract with its largest employee union. The breakthrough occurs after 27 months of negotiating. The American Federal of Government Employees calls the tentative deal a conceptual agreement. AFGE president John Gage says the union won better eye-care benefits and working conditions. Both sides caution, they still have details to work out and the agreement must be voted on by AFGE locals. (Federal News Radio)
  • USDA is launching a series of Twitter feeds to warn of food safety problems. Tweets emanate from the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Each feed is designated for a specific state. The first 11 states to get the feeds are in the West, including Hawaii and Alaska. The alerts cover recalls and other safety issues for meat, poultry and processed egg products. Tweets will also carry information about maintaining food supplies during severe weather. (FSIS)
  • Local technology workers thinking of changing jobs will have their chance next week as Women in Technology stages a job fair featuring 55 companies and government agencies. It’s free and open to both men and women. Recruiters will be on hand from companies like BAE Systems, Deloitte, CACI, Harris, Oracle and CGI Federal. The job fair takes place from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 7 at the Sheraton Premier in Tyson’s Corner. (Women in Technology)
  • The Internal Revenue Service is tangling with conservative groups who say the agency is tying up tax exempt applications in red tape. The groups say information requests from the IRS go beyond what is necessary. In some instances, IRS has asked for information about social media postings and group members’ relatives. An Ohio Tea Party group calls the IRS demands intimidation. The IRS says decisions on tax exempt status sometimes require lots of information. Officials say decisions are made by career employees without regard to politics. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Federal Acquisition Regulations Council finalized three rules addressing everything from multiple award contracts to women-owned businesses. One rule would set the requirement for when agencies can use cost-reimbursement type contracts. Another rule requires agencies using multiple award contracts do their best to get at least three qualified bidders or justify why they didn’t. The third rule restricts competition for certain federal contracts for women-owned businesses. All three are effective April 2. (GPO)
  • A new tool promises to make Freedom of Information Act requests easier. The Justice Department is opening access to more than 100 agency Freedom of Information Act request forms. They are available together on Justice hopes the remaining departments will submit links to their agency’s FOIA information to help streamline the process. Justice says keeping all of the request forms together will provide easier integration with their FOIA tracking system. (Justice Department)