Federal Drive interviews – May 8, 2012

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources. Audio will be added later today.

Today’s guests:

Rep. James Lankford(R-Okla.)


Conventional wisdom says the government is spending billions on duplicative — perhaps wasteful — programs. But it’s hard to pinpoint all the areas of overlap. Lawmakers are trying to flesh out the details with two bills. One is aimed at agencies and the other at Capitol Hill. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) has cosponsored both and calls the first bill “a straightforward transparency piece.”

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Joe Petrilloprocurement expert with Petrillo and Powell.

What effect would removing three small words from the Federal Acquisition Regulation — the FAR — have on the whole acquisition process? It depends on who you ask. The Department of Defense wants to remove the words “of a type” when referring to commercial products in order to streamline the purchasing process. Others say removing the words would make the process more complicated. Procurement expert Joe Petrillo of Petrillo and Powell offers his insight.

Dr. Sonja Battendeputy chief for specialty mental health, Veterans Affairs Department

The Department of Veterans Affairs is hiring nearly 2,000 mental health professionals and support staff. This comes in the wake of a scathing inspector general’s report, record high number of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line and anticipated increases in the number of veterans seeking disability benefits. Dr. Sonja Batten, a top mental health consultant at the VA, to tell us what the changes could mean for veterans.

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Julian Sanchezresearch fellow and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expert, Cato Institute

A secret court is giving approval to increase the government’s authority in terrorism or spy investigations. In 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or FISC said yes to more than 1,700 requests from the Justice Department for wiretaps and evidence searches. In 2010, FISC approved more than 1,500 similar requests from Justice. Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank here in Washington, D.C., puts this in context.

Mark MillsDefense Connect Online program manager at Carahsoft.

Hundreds of thousands of DoD servicemembers and civilians already use an online collaboration tool called Defense Connect Online to attend meetings without actually going to meetings. As of yesterday, DoD users can do the same thing on their mobile devices…at least if they a smartphone or tablet that runs Android. The Defense Information Systems Agency and its vendor, Carahsoft, has just released DCO’s first mobile app. Mills talked with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu about how the military uses the online collaboration tool now…and how that might change in the mobile environment.