Thursday morning federal headlines – March 1, 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.

  • Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) vowed to introduce legislation to shake up the Senior Executive Service. Moran said he wanted to jostle the federal government’s top career workers out of their comfort zones. Research published this week showed half of the senior executives never leave their agencies. When it created the SES, Congress meant for members to be more mobile within the federal bureaucracy. Now Moran wants to make SESers the government’s A-team, deployable where needed. A spokesman said the legislation would address SES recruitment and retention problems. It would reform the compensation system and increase career development. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy has started testing a gun that could shoot a round more than 100 miles. The super-powerful weapon is called an electromagnetic railgun. Testing is designed to see if the barrel could withstand the heat and stress of repeated firings, and if the shells hold up while traveling seven times the speed of sound. The Navy has spent $240 million developing the railgun. But it might be several more years before it’s ready for mounting on ships. One contractor is General Atomics, maker of the Predator Drones. (Federal News Radio)
  • An Australian man and his company were indicted for scheming to export parts for drones, torpedoes and other military technology to Iran, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors said the scheme went on for two-years starting in 2007. David Levick and his company ICM solicited purchase orders for aircraft parts for a trading company in Iran. Prosecutors said he sometimes placed the orders through a broker in Florida and duped manufacturers, shippers and distributors by concealing the intended end-use of the goods. (AP)
  • The General Services Administration today is releasing new guidelines banning all agencies from disposing of electronic waste in landfills. The new policy will direct agencies on the reuse of electronics to the maximum extent possible and the use of certified e-waste recyclers. It also will ensure that the government is effectively managing the disposal process of e-waste. GSA administrator Martha Johnson and other agency officials will hold a press conference today to discuss the new policy. (GSA)
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is suing the Postal Service over a whistleblower case. GovExec reported the case involves a safety specialist at a Seattle mail processing center. The suit says he was forced into a lower-paying job and denied promotions after advising a worker to file a safety complaint. OSHA is seeking back pay and compensation for emotional distress. OSHA, a part of the Labor Department, can’t sue other federal agencies. But a 1998 law makes an exception for the Postal Service. (GovExec)
  • Veterans Affairs terminated its contract with a vendor developing software to support electronic health records. VA had already stopped work on the contract. The $102 million deal had been awarded to ASM Research only last month. Industry sources told NextGov, the contractor might have had an organizational conflict of interest. The sources said people who worked at the Military Health System when the contract went out for bid, now work for an ASM subcontractor. (NextGov)
  • Defense officials were grilled by members of Congress on why DOD doesn’t have a database of medal recipients. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said such a database would help prevent people from claiming to have earned medals they did not. Lernes Hebert, director of the Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management system, said existing databases already let authorities verify medal claims. The committee on Government Oversight and Reform is considering the Stolen Valor Act. The bill would make it a crime to falsely claim a military honor. (Federal News Radio)
  • It’s about to get more beautiful in the Capitol region. It has been 100 years that Washington, D.C., has had its famous cherry blossom trees, and peak bloom season is just around the corner. The National Park Service is expected to announce today the peak dates when the trees will be full of pink and white flowers, the Associated Press reported. If current weather holds up, it could be sooner than normal. (AP)