Tuesday morning federal headlines – April 10, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The second in command of the General Services Administration’s Public Building Service has been placed on leave. That made David Foley the fourth senior official to feel the aftershocks of an inspector general report on excessive spending. A GSA spokesman said Desa Sealy was appointed interim deputy commissioner. Linda Chero is acting commissioner, coming in from the Mid-Atlantic region. That IG report piqued Congress. Two committees have scheduled hearings next week. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senators put aside partisan differences momentarily before recessing. Republicans joined Democrats in confirming 60 Obama administration appointees. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced numbers from the Senate calendar that corresponded to individual nominees. In just minutes, the Senate approved new and reappointed ambassadors, department officials and financial regulators. The White House had pledged not to bypass the Senate during the April recess. Senate Democrats had agreed to confirm eight Republican nominees. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is hosting a “Grand Challenge” conference to highlight the government’s dedication to finding the next big idea. The July event will showcase new commitments by federal agencies and others. The Office of Science and Technology Policy said challenges can serve as “north stars” for collaborations between the public and private sectors. The Energy Department is leading the way with programs to make solar energy and electric vehicles more attractive options. USAID also is using challenges to find ways to improve health care access for women and newborns in developing countries. (White House)
  • Most Americans think government employees have it pretty good. That finding was suggested by a new Rasmussen Reports survey. GovExec reported that nearly half of the participating government workers agreed. They also said the government offered greater job security. But just 35 percent of government employees surveyed said the average government worker earned more than his or her private-sector counterpart. The polling group surveyed 1,000 people. (GovExec)
  • By not having a Facebook page, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is the lone holdout among 24 major agencies in using that social network. NRC officials told NextGov that it had no plans to follow the trend. The agency said its small public affairs office might not be able to effectively monitor and respond to Facebook comments and that other agencies reported Facebook was a less effective tool than other social networks. (NextGov)
  • The Department of Homeland Security issued a solicitation for technology to help secure the Mexican border. It called for towers loaded with sensors that would replace a canceled fence project in which DHS had sunk nearly $1 billion. NextGov reported the new solicitation called for existing products. The government emphasized the option to cancel the whole thing if contractors bid exotic but untested technology. The project called for the first tower to be delivered a year from the contract award. (NextGov)
  • Federal agencies finished updating transparency plans that replaced ones prepared early in the Obama administration. NASA said its open government blueprint meant new ways of building and maintaining websites. The agency has nearly 1,600 sites available to the public. The Social Security Administration plan called for new online services that would enhance citizens’ ability to obtain disability benefits. (Federal News Radio)