Wednesday morning federal headlines – May 16, 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.

  • While most government workers are enjoying a long weekend, the General Services Administration will be working to migrate to the new System Award Management. “SAM” will absorb the data from the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the Federal Agency Registration (FedReg), the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). Contractors will only need to access one system now, and that means fewer passwords to remember. SAM training is available online. CRR will stop accepting data on the May 23. (GSA)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the Air Force to restrict all F-22 flights. There have been 12 cases in which pilots reported symptoms of oxygen deficiency. Any pilot who ventures out in the aircraft will now have to stay close enough to landing sites to enable a quick recovery. Panetta has called for the Air Force to expedite the installation of an automatic backup oxygen system. The decision to restrict flights came in part because some pilots have expressed hesitations to fly the plane. (Federal News Radio)
  • Your salary information is now online, thanks to a New Jersey newspaper. The Asbury Park Press has posted a database listing federal employees by name. It includes not only an employee’s base pay, but whether he received a bonus in 2011.It also tells people the employee’s grade level and where exactly he worked. The newspaper got the data after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Personnel Management. It covers most federal employees who work at civilian agencies, or seven out of every 10 federal workers. (Asbury Park Press)
  • A Senate committee will vote today on whether to extend federal workers’ benefits to their same-sex partners. The legislation would give gay couples access to federal employment benefits like health care, retirement, and family and medical leave. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders back the bill. Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the only Republican sponsor. She said the bill would make the federal government a more attractive employer because many companies already have this policy. (GPO)
  • Thirty companies will share in a $3 billion Homeland Security program. DHS awarded the contracts so it could buy tactical communications equipment and services. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity deal has a base period of two years plus three one-year options. Among the large companies receiving contracts are Harris, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Qinetiq and Unisys. (FedBizOpps)
  • NASA is getting ready to launch the fifth generation of its popular governmentwide acquisition contract. SEWP-4 is about to reach its limit of $10 billion in sales. It expires in 2014. SEWP, which stands for Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement, is used by nearly every agency. Program Manager Joanne Woytek said she’s already filled the first round of vendor meetings in anticipation of SEWP-5. She said the industry meetings would help the SEWP staff better understand technologies of the future before they launch the competition. (Federal News Radio)
  • The government’s long trek to cloud computing has advanced another step. The General Services Administration authorized eight companies and one federal agency to assess cloud service providers. The assessments will determine if the provider meets federal security standards. If a provider passes muster, it would be able to offer its services to any federal agency. It’s all part of the FedRAMP program, designed to streamline agency adoption of the cloud model. The agency getting the power to kosher the cloud is the Transportation Department’s Enterprise Service Center. (Federal News Radio)
  • You don’t have to wait so long for a security clearance anymore. Half of all applicants get it within four months, about a month earlier than people in the same position back in 2010. released the results of its new survey. It credited the Defense Department for centralizing its processing facilities and the Office of Personnel Management for shelling out more money to cut wait times. But four in 10 candidates still wait longer than six months and 7 percent wait a year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Employees at one small agency can relax, knowing they are no longer being used as a political football. Congress has voted to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank for three years. The bank helps finance sales of American products abroad. Conservative groups had argued for its abolishment. They said it distorts markets. But the Chamber of Commerce helped persuade lawmakers that the bank helps American companies compete overseas and hire workers at home. (Federal News Radio)