Friday morning federal headlines – Aug. 31, 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 Justice Department has ended its investigation of Bush-era interrogation techniques by the CIA. It will not bring any criminal charges. The lead prosecutor, John Durham, examined the treatment of 101 detainees held since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He started the probe in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder expanded it in 2009 to include overseas interrogations. The CIA inspector general that year found interrogators had threatened to kill the children of one detainee. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agencies now have 17 vendors to pick from for cloud email services. The General Services Administration said its new blanket purchase agreement would make it easier for agencies to meet the White House cloud-first policy. Mary Davie, acting commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said using one of the cloud providers would save agencies $1 million a year for every 7,500 email accounts they sign up. Vendors on the new BPA would also offer office automation applications and electronic records management. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Commerce Department has funded a software tool to help communities more accurately gage the impact of economic development. It’s called the Triple Bottom Line Tool. It measures not only jobs created, but also how projects affect the environment and local social conditions. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration partnered with Portland State University to code the tool. Portland’s team included several non profits and think tanks. In a blog post, acting assistant secretary Matt Erskine said the triple bottom line approach is gaining recognition by major corporations. Erskine said the beta version is available now for free. (Commerce Department)
  • A former consulate guard has pleaded guilty to trying to spy for China. Bryan Underwood was working at the construction site of a new consulate in Guangzhoum, when he wrote a letter asking the Chinese government to pay him $3.5 million, the Associated Press reported. In return, he would hand over information on the compound’s layout, including the location of classified information. U.S. experts said that could have caused serious damage to the United States. But China did not respond to Underwood’s invitation. He could face life in prison. Prosecutors said he lost a lot of money in the stock market. (Associated Press)
  • The Pentagon is threatening legal action against the former Navy SEAL who is publishing a new book on the killing of Osama bin Laden. Defense Department lawyers have written to Matt Bissonnette, who goes by the pen name Mark Owen. DoD said he was violating agreements to never divulge classified information. Bissonnette did not clear his book with the Pentagon. In it, he recounts the raid on Abbottabad. He said he and another SEAL killed bin Laden, who was unarmed. That contradicts what the government has been saying. (Federal News Radio)
  • The government’s push to go digital is leaving millions of Americans behind. So says a new report by Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law. It takes aim at the Government Printing Office. The agency is putting more and more official documents into electronic formats and cutting down on the number of hard copies. The group said more than a fifth of Americans are not online. It’s getting harder for them to obtain a copy of the Federal Register, the Congressional Record or committee hearings. Nader said we risk losing an invaluable resource. (Center for Study of Responsive Law)
  • Civilian agencies could lose $39 billion under sequestration. That’s according to the Professional Services Council. The contractors’ group says that’s just a top-line figure. No one really knows where the cuts will come from. President Barack Obama is supposed to submit a detailed report to Congress on Sept. 8. (Federal News Radio)