Monday morning federal headlines – Aug. 27, 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.

  • Defense Department civilians, and not contractors, would get hit first under sequestration. That’s the main finding of a study from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis. It says that should the budget sequester occur as scheduled on Jan.2 , 108,000 DoD civilians would lose their jobs immediately. The study said that because contractor funds might already be obligated, sequestration would take longer to hit companies doing business with the Pentagon. In 2013, most contractors will be working on projects whose funding was obligated months or years earlier. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Obama administration is making a new run at electronic record-keeping. In a new directive, it asks agencies to start working toward a 2020 goal of totally online records. The guidance was written by the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives and Records Administration. It gives agencies until Nov. 15 to name a senior official to oversee e-record keeping. By 2016, agencies should be managing email electronically. The guidance calls for more training in electronic record-keeping techniques. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration has spent $24,000 in the last year on commuting costs for one employee. He works for GSA’s Kansas City office, but lives in Hawaii. CNN reported, in a one-year period, GSA spent $750,000 on long distance commuting for nearly 100 employees. The employees mostly telework, but must travel frequently to their assigned offices. In the case of the Hawaii employee, the Kansas City regional administrator said the employee was saving the government money overall. But a GSA spokesman told CNN the agency couldn’t defend that amount of travel spending. (CNN)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department gave Congress dozens of DVDs depicting every minute of a 2011 HR conference. The conference was one of a series that cost $5 million in 2011. Federal Times reported the DVDs contain some embarrassing moments, such as VA employees singing a karaoke version of Michael Jackson’s Beat It. VA officials have acknowledged some of the conference spending was over the top. But they said that in the ensuing year, they took measures to control conference costs. The VA inspector general acknowledged the conferences did have legitimate business purposes. (Federal Times)
  • Auditors say Veterans Affairs employees were in on a scheme to help a major company reap rewards from small business contracts. The department inspector general said Enterprise Technology Solutions won contracts as a service-disabled, veteran-owned concern. But it passed the bulk of the work on to Health Net, a major player in the claims-processing industry. It’s against the rules for small companies to front for large ones. The IG said Health Net encouraged a former VA employee to set up the small company for the sole purpose of funneling business to Heath Net. It says agency contract officers knew about the arrangement. Health Net is one of the companies that services TRICARE. (Veterans Affairs)