Wednesday morning federal headlines – May 9, 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.

  • The leader of the agency that represents federal whistleblowers said she’s heard enough to be concerned about flying, GovExec reported. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner sent a letter to President Barack Obama listing the alarm bells: Federal Aviation Administration workers said they saw air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job, unauthorized aircraft flying in U.S. Airspace and lax oversight of airlines’ maintenance programs. She said these employees have told the FAA, but the agency has done little in response. The agency has one of the highest rates of whistleblower filings in the government. (GovExec)
  • The Government Accountability Office has rejected a contractor’s claim that it was duped into raising its bid. The case concerned a contract from the Centers for Disease Control. CDC wanted to re-do a sprawling data center. It told both contractors their proposed staffing levels were too low. Unisys raised its staffing levels and therefore its price. Competitor Hewlett Packard argued the staffing bid was correct, stayed with its original bid and won the contract. Unisys protested. In rejecting the protest, GAO said the agency didn’t have to spoon-feed vendors on how to respond. (GAO)
  • The Air Force said it won’t take action against airmen who complained about problems with the F-22 fighter. Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told a Senate subcommittee the pilots would receive whistleblower protections. Both pilots are members of the Virginia Air Guard. The pilots made comments about the plane on a national television show. They claimed faulty oxygen delivery systems caused pilot dizziness and blackouts. The Air Force said the problems have been repaired. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House Armed Services Committee is proposing to increase next year’s Defense spending by $3 billion more than the administration wants, and it rejected the Pentagon’s call for military base closings. The committee meets today to mark up a bill that would provide a base budget of $554 billion, which would provide another $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan. Unless Congress says otherwise, automatic reductions of $50 billion a year will hit DoD starting in January. (Federal News Radio)
  • House members angry over a botched gun-tracking program have voted to cut the Justice Department’s budget. The amendment easily passed the full chamber. It would cut $1 million from Justice’s general administration fund, which pays for salaries. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who sponsored the measure, said the agency has not fully answered questions about Operation Fast and Furious. The controversial program led to the death of a border patrol agent. Justice said it has given Congress thousands of documents. But the House Oversight Committee has asked for thousands more. (
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is suspicious that the Drug Enforcement Administration might be causing a shortage of legal prescription drugs. He asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. Grassley was worried that DEA quotas imposed on drug manufacturers might limit supplies available to sick or injured people. Grassley wanted the GAO to look into how quickly the DEA responded to quota requests, and, how fast it granted requests for supplemental quotas for drugs in high demand. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined Grassley in the request for an investigation. (
  • A proposed rule could require companies that take over agency contracts to keep the employees who were doing that work. A council that oversees federal acquisition regulations has published the rule in the Federal Register for comment. It follows an executive order, which explained the situation like this: When a service contract expires and a follow-on contract is awarded for the same service, then the new contractor should hire their predecessor’s employees. The White House said it would make transitions between contracts run smoothly and keep experienced contractors around. (Federal Register)
  • The FBI has teamed up with a nonprofit group to fight back against the latest cyber-threat. The DNS Changer malware stops anti-virus software from working correctly. That lets the malware interfere with your web browsing. The tide of infections has receded in recent weeks, but there are still about 80,000 infected computers. So an FBI task force has joined with nonprofit group Internet Services Corporation to provide clean servers that anyone can use to rid themselves of the malware. You can go to the DNS Changer Working Group website to check your computer. The process takes only a few minutes and you’ll need to do it by July 9. After that, if you still carry the malware, you may lose access to the Internet altogether. (FBI)