Monday morning federal headlines – April 2, 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.

  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was supposed to receive a pay raise, but it’s been blocked by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) Vitter said he would hold the raise until Salazar began approving six new deepwater drilling permits per month. Vitter’s move received a rebuke from the Senate Ethics Committee, which took no other action. Salazar is paid less then other cabinet secretaries because he was a senator when he was appointed. That restriction was about to expire. Salarzar is eligible for a raise to match cabinet pay of $199,000. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force hopes a virtual tool can help it slash the time it takes to hire civilians. Agencies are trying to fill vacancies within 80 days. That’s been hard for the Defense Department to do. The Air Force said its new onboarding tool would replace one that doesn’t meet federal requirements. The USA Staffing Onboarding Manager should also reduce the number of documents that Air Force HR staff have to manually process. The service will phase it in this month. (Federal News Radio)
  • What does NASA, the State Department, USAID and a leading sports brand have in common? It turns out they all want to cut the garbage. The three agencies and Nike are soliciting proposals for managing waste. They’re looking for “game changing” business plans and prototypes. NASA said waste management was important for planning longer spaceflights. (Federal News Radio)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection is ready to retire its legacy system for filing cargo information. After a six month trial run, the new Automated Commercial Environment will become CBP’s system of record. But rail and ocean shippers must now begin submitting advance cargo manifests using ACE. David Aguilar, CBP’s acting commissioner, said the launch of ACE marks a cooperative effort between government and the private sector. ACE has been under development since the late 1990s. (CBP)
  • The 1940 census goes digital this morning. The joint National Archives and Census project opens a new window into the era marked by the Great Depression and black migration from the rural South. The 1940 census covered the standard questions but also surveyed Americans on their income, and whether they had worked for Depression-era public-works entities. The agencies took so long in releasing the data because of privacy concerns. The information includes 21 million people who are still alive. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program is expanding members’ access to experimental drugs. It will require insurers to cover participation in certain clinical trials next year. The Office of Personnel Management said those trials would include federally-funded research into prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The agency’s “call letter” also tells insurers to stop limiting “essential health benefits” like maternity care and prescription drugs, although few limits exist now. The federal program is getting a head start on legal mandates that kick in in 2014. (Federal Times)
  • The White House wants CIOs to know more about how their departments spend information technology money, and it wants CIOs to have more control over that spending. The Office of Management and Budget launched a series of review sessions it’s calling PortfolioStat. CIOs have a lot of data gathering to do before the first PortfolioStats. Sessions start in July. The ultimate goal is to find ways to consolidate buying common across departments. Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel expects Portfolio Stat to impact 2014 budgets. (Federal News Radio)