Thursday morning federal headlines – May 3, 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.

  • Federal CIOs received their marching orders on how to cut costs by sharing. The Office of Management and Budget has issued the shared services strategy it promised last year. Its goal is to chip away at $46 billion worth of duplicated IT spending. OMB is giving agencies until Aug. 31 to come up with plans for which services they’ll consolidate and share. It wants agencies to focus on common applications and commodity services such as e-mail and data storage. (Federal News Radio)
  • Usually Congress tells agencies what to do. But two big Departments are telling Congress to get off the stick and pass cybersecurity legislation. Defense and Homeland Security department officials are warning there’s trouble ahead if the House and Senate don’t get together. The House has passed four cybersecurity bills. The Senate is still debating two competing bills. Mark Weatherford is deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at DHS. He says rising threat levels compel congressional action. (Federal News Radio)
  • A sentence that begins with “GSA” and “conference” usually ends with a punch line these days. But yesterday it was the agency’s turn to laugh. GSA officials at a telework town hall meeting took home a prize for innovative technology that helps employees work away from the office. It’s “A-3” program stands for “any device…anywhere…anytime.” Telework Exchange sponsored yesterday’s event. It says the GSA strategy turns the tables on past policies that let only a few staff members telework. See full list of telework winners. (Telework Exchange)
  • Lawmakers say the Veterans Affairs Department should not wait to help veterans sickened by three decades of water pollution at a Marine Corps base. The leaders of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs committees have written to President Obama. They say Veterans Affairs has billions in surplus cash because it overestimated its health care needs. They say the agency should spend it on veterans and their family members who were stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between the 1950s and 19-80s. The VA would like to wait for more conclusive evidence that contaminated drinking water caused leukemia and other deadly diseases. But the lawmakers say that could take two years, and the veterans need help now. The bipartisan group says they are working on legislation. (House and Senate VA Committees)
  • The Agriculture Department will revamp how it tracks dangerous bacteria in meat. Its goal is to find sources of E-coli faster, and speed up the recall of tainted meat. Inspectors will begin tracing the source of potential contamination at the first positive test. They won’t wait for further testing, the procedure now in place. That would let inspectors find E-coli sources two days sooner than they can now. The change comes as National Barbecue Month gets underway. (Federal News Radio)
  • The former chief of intelligence for ICE has pled guilty to defrauding the government. James Woosley could spend more than two years in prison. Federal prosecutors say he scammed Immigration and Customs Enforcement out of $180,000 by submitting fake travel vouchers and time cards. Prosecutors say he also took kickbacks from subordinates doing the same thing. All told, Woosley is the fifth and highest-ranking former official to plead guilty to the scheme that defrauded the government of $600,000 It lasted three years from 2008 to 2011. (FBI)
  • More than 400 sailors met at Pearl Harbor Tuesday to learn about the risks of synthetic drug abuse and the Navy’s related policies and programs. Spice is a synthetic drug intended to give a similar effect to marijuana. It’s more potent than it’s organic counterpart though — 200 times more according to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Plus, the blend of chemicals used in the drug are constantly being manipulated so it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. Command Master Chief Marc Sibal said he has seen 20 to 30 Spice-related cases since he arrived at Commander Navy Region Hawaii in 2010. (Navy)