Friday morning federal headlines – April 13, 2012

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Agencies are ready to take on the next frontier of cloud computing services. The General Services Administration and Veterans Affairs are considering moving human resource applications to the cloud. VA released a request for proposals to the four private-sector shared service providers, Accenture, IBM, Carasoft and Allied Technologies. Cynthia Vaughn, director of VA’s HR line of business management office, said the agency plans to make an award by the end of the year. GSA is still developing its acquisition strategy. Right now, 40 federal agencies use HR services hosted by GSA itself. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House unveiled a new online tool to help agencies avoid improper payments. The Treasury Department developed the Do-Not-Pay application at the behest of the Office of Management and Budget. It crawls several federal databases, spitting out names of people or companies not eligible to receive federal payments. Acting OMB Director Jeff Zients ordered chief financial officers to submit plans for how they will use Do Not Pay. They have until June 30. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors. Some gay rights groups had asked for a presidential order to that effect. Press secretary Jay Carney said the president would support legislation banning discrimination against gay contractors. Gay rights groups said that Congress won’t pass such a law. They said the White House should step in with an executive order. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Transportation Security Administration might need to give up the cash it finds at airport checkpoints. Fliers have left behind an estimated $1 million over the past couple of years, and the TSA has gotten to keep that money. But there’s a bill that would force TSA to give it up to the USO. The Congressional Budget Office said moving the money would actually cost $1 million in the short term. But CBO expects an offset later because of lower outlays for aviation security. (CBO)
  • The National Institutes of Health are focused on the nation’s smiles. Their National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is moving to consolidate three dental research networks into one and awarded a $67 million grant to do so. The University of Alabama is the headquarters for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. NIH described the network as an investigative union of practicing and academic scientists. They conduct research studies into day-to-day issues in oral healthcare. (NIH)
  • A long-standing member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will step down when his term expires July 1. Appointed by President George W. Bush, Stuart J. Ishimaru joined the EEOC in 2003. He gets credit for re-invigorating the commission’s focus on racial discrimination issues. He restarted its focus on age discrimination. In a statement, the EEOC said Ishimaru helped rebuild the commission. It had become under-funded and under-staffed. (EEOC)
  • The Justice Department settled a long-standing case brought by American Indian tribes. The 41 tribes altogether will receive more than $1 billion. Some of their claims date back more than a century. The tribes said the Interior and Treasury departments mismanaged the money and natural resources held in trust for them. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the settlements would strengthen the government’s relationships with tribes. (Justice)
  • The Navy has seen a disturbing trend in the number of commanding officers fired because of behavioral issues. About 22 were dismissed last year. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said the specific causes run the gamut — from drinking to fraud to adultery. In response, the service is boosting leadership training at command schools. It’s using the recent firings as case studies. Greenert said sexual assault also continues to be a problem among all ranks. The Navy averages one or two episodes daily. (Federal News Radio)
  • FBI agents are trying to unravel the shooting deaths of two Coast Guard members on an island off of Alaska. A coworker found the two Coast Guard members dead Thursday at their work areas inside the Kodiak Island communications station. A spokesperson said it appears to be a double homicide, and officials believe a third person was involved. Security was increased at the base after the shooting, which is located about 8 miles from the island’s largest city of Kodiak. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new Government Accountability Office report said the Postal Service has more mail processing centers than it needs. But the watchdog agency stopped short of making new recommendations to Congress. Mail volume has plummeted with the growth of email and online bill payments. The Postal Service wants to close at least 200 processing facilities starting next month. Many lawmakers don’t like the idea, however. They may consider legislation to help the Postal Service when they return to Washington. (GAO)
  • Defense Department employees will have to wait longer than other feds to invest retirement money in the new TSP Roth option. It will go online for most federal workers on May 7. But Federal Times reported that Defense civilian employees and the Marines won’t get the option until early summer. Other service members may have to wait until the fall. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service said the services’ pay systems are complicated and required more testing. (Federal Times)