Tuesday morning federal headlines – July 10, 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.

  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said she will help seasonal firefighters in their struggle for federal health care benefits, saying she would introduce a bill this week that would let the firefighters enroll in the federal employees health benefits program. About 8,000 firefighters are working for the federal government on a season-to-season basis, which means they don’t receive any benefits. One federal labor union estimated it would cost the government $17.5 million a year to cover the Forest Service’s seasonal firefighters. Firefighters said without health insurance for themselves or their families, they simply pray they don’t get sick. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency got sloppy at handling employee security clearance controls. But the agency said it would respond to a recent inspector general report. The IG found, EPA management wasn’t fully complying with governmentwide National Security Information standards. Employees were not all receiving the training they needed to handle classified information, and the agency wasn’t always putting non-disclosure agreements in employees’ personnel folders. Renee Page, director of EPA’s Office of Administration, said the agency concurred with most of the findings. (Federal News Radio)
  • You might need a helicopter to see them, but changes to the Energy Department’s historic Forrestal Building are saving money. The agency estimated switching to a white roof was one way it will save $600,000 dollars annually. Peter O’Konski, the director of administration, said Energy also installed more efficient air conditioning gear. To get the updates done, Energy used an Energy Savings Performance Contract. It pays the contractor out of the savings. DOE will also install LED outside lights and update its steam traps. Officials hoped to install 126 new cool roofs on other DoE buildings this year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement rented a database of hundreds of millions of automobile license plate images. The images will help the agency hunt down hideouts of escaped illegal immigrants. NextGov reported the agency wasn’t spending much for this capability — about $25,000 for a five-year deal. Agents enter a runaway’s plate number. They receive an alert when the database records a matching location. It works because the file of 685 million plate pictures is continually updated by commercial camera operators. They capture both the number and its location. The system was originally developed for lenders who want to repossess cars from deadbeats. (NextGov)
  • The Federal Trade Commission is about to collect the biggest fine in agency history. The guilty party is Google. The Internet giant will pay $22.5 million to settle charges that it disabled privacy settings of people using the Apple Safari browser. The final deal is awaiting a vote by the commissioners. The Wall Street Journal reported the FTC was rooting out privacy violators. The Journal first reported Google’s Safari practices. This won’t be Google’s biggest fine. Last year it paid $500 million after the Justice Department said Google illegally promoted sales of prescription drugs. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information to help it arrest four men. It believes they were involved in the shooting of Border Patrol Agency Brian Terry in 2010. Terry was killed with a gun used in the Fast And Furious gun-tracing operation operated by the Justice Department. Two men have already been arrested in connection with the Terry murder. The gun-tracing operation was an attempt to nab Mexican drug kingpins. But it’s caused a furor on Capitol Hill. Last month the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for withholding documents related to Fast and Furious. (FBI)
  • Buyouts are coming to Goddard Space Center, with 117 employees receiving offers this month. Most of them work in science and exploration. NASA said the buyouts were aimed at reshaping the workforce rather than trimming it. The agency was offering up to $25,000 as an incentive. Employees must sign up within 10 days and retire by October. NASA offered buyouts to more than 600 employees nationwide last fall but Goddard did not participate. (Federal News Radio)