Tuesday morning federal headlines – May 15, 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.

  • Senators want more answers from the General Services Administration on how it is controlling its wallet. Leaders of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have asked acting General Services Administration chief Dan Tangherlini to respond to 41 new questions. The senators cite concerns that GSA headquarters does not oversee regional offices adequately when it comes to spending. In the past, regional heads have approved their own travel and expenses. The lawmakers have asked the agency to respond by the end of the month. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • Rural post offices avoided the chopping block last week, and now your downtown post office has also gotten a stay of execution. The Postal Service announced yesterday that about 600 urban and suburban post offices that were slated for closure will now remain open. It has backed off its plan to close nearly 4,000 post offices, which would have happened today. The Senate has offered an $11 billion cash infusion to keep the Postal Service afloat. But Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says that falls far short of what it needs in the long-term. Without congressional intervention, the Postal Service will default on its Treasury debt this fall. (Federal News Radio)
  • Pentagon leaders hope 1,000 suppliers sign up to share cybersecurity information. The Department got White House approval expand its pilot program of 36 companies. DoD’s goal is to improve cybersecurity in the defense industrial base by exchanging threat information in a secure way. DoD will send threat information to the companies’ internet service providers. The ISPs will then be able to stop the threats before they reach the companies. Homeland Security is involved too. It maintains the threat database and makes it available to the participating ISPs. (Federal News Radio)
  • Big Blue is helping federal buildings go green. The General Services Administration has hired IBM to install monitoring and control technology in 50 federal buildings. The buildings will feed energy consumption data to a central dashboard, so they can all be controlled from one location. GSA estimates energy savings will amount to 15 million dollars a year. Among the 50 buildings covered will be the Ronald Reagan Building and the FAA’s headquarters in Washington. Also the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in Boston and the Everett Dirksen building in Chicago, both completed in the 1960s. (Federal News Radio)
  • An IT shakeup at the Social Security Administration suffered from a lack of planning, according to GAO auditors. Social Security closed down its chief information office in June. It gave its Office of Systems responsibility for managing IT. GAO says Social Security did not foresee some of the challenges that occurred and did not have a game plan for overcoming them. (Government Accountability Office)
  • Justice is blind, and so, apparently, is TSA. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was flagged for extra screening by airport security on Friday. A freelance journalist recognized the 89-year-old statesman, but TSA agents didn’t. They subjected Kissinger to a full search. The journalist told the Washington Post that Kissinger didn’t ask for any special treatment and even cracked jokes with an aide. (Washington Post)
  • NOAA says it is turning the corner on ending overfishing and rebuilding U.S. fisheries. Its annual report card shows 2011 was a record-breaking year. From Bering Sea snow crab in Alaska to summer flounder in the Atlantic, six species that had been overfished returned to target levels. NOAA keeps a Fish Stock Sustainability Index, which is like a Dow Jones for fish. It has risen steadily for 11 years now. The agency credits what it calls a science-based management process with annual catch limits and accountability measures. Still, 1 out of 5 species remains overfished. (NOAA)