Thursday morning federal headlines – Aug. 30, 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 National Archives and Records Administration is claiming success on the declassification front. It has reviewed nearly all of a 400,000 page backlog of old documents. Officials cite help from an executive order in 2009 creating the National Declassification Center. It fostered a more uniform approach to how agencies classify and declassify documents. Under a Clinton era law, records more than 25-years old are generally released automatically. But some contain information that could potentially harm current national security. Those records must be reviewed by hand. (Federal News Radio)
  • Millions of college students have returned after summer break. But 27 students are returning from internships at U.S. national laboratories. They’ve been studying domestic nuclear threats and how to detect them. They’re part of the Homeland Security Department’s Nuclear Forensics Education Award Program. The program is also supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Energy Department. Huban Gowadia, who runs the program for DHS, said 61 students have taken up the nuclear detection field since the program launched in 2008. It has invested $65 million in research to prevent nuclear terrorism. (DHS)
  • Health and Human Services will award $23 million in grants to help train public health workers. The awards will help them get up to speed in nutrition and epidemiology. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will award another $25 million to fund residency-style training programs in state and local public health departments. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the awards in a blog post. She said much of the training will take place online, concentrating on field health workers. (HHS)
  • The Commerce Department will save $1 million a year buying software packages that almost every agency uses. CIO Simon Szykman said he’s cut a new deal to acquire Adobe products through a reseller, Alvarez and Associates. He said Commerce is aggregating its Adobe buys to get better pricing leverage. It’s part of a larger effort to save $176 million in acquisition costs starting in fiscal 2013. Commerce also launched a blog post series to talk about ways it will save that money. (Commerce)
  • A leading postal workers’ union said the new Republican Party platform is anti-letter carrier. The National Association of Letter Carriers said Republicans would destroy their jobs and the Postal Service. The union hopes the platform will galvanize members to vote. In the platform, the GOP says the Postal Service must downsize in the Internet era. It says mail delivery from the days of the “Pony Express” cannot go on, and it calls on Congress to explore ways to privatize parts of the mail-processing system. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new report shows the Interior Department is still struggling to monitor oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Government Accountability Office said the department has a limited capacity to identify and evaluate risks. Staff shortages and ineffective technology are contributing to the issues. The Interior Department split its oil and gas division in two following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. GAO said the reorganization is complete. (GAO)
  • The Agriculture Department is urging livestock producers affected by natural disasters to keep good records. Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan Garcia said those affected by wildfires, drought and Hurricane Isaac may have federal assistance held up if they don’t keep proper records. He recommended they keep documents of extra expenses, emergency transportation costs, plus livestock and feed losses. He also suggested supplementing records with video and photos. There are five federal disaster assistance programs administered by USDA. (Federal News Radio)