Wednesday morning federal headlines – Aug. 29, 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 Park Service is deep cleaning rental tents in Yosemite National Park after two visitors died from infections. The two contracted lung disease from contact with rodent waste or breathing dust contaminated with it. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed the visitors became sick after staying in a low-priced section of housing called Curry Village, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Now, the Park Service is sending letters to 1,700 visitors who were potentially exposed. The disease can take up to a month to develop. A third of the people who get it, die from it. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is watching Hurricane Isaac closely. The agency has sent more staff to help resident inspectors at nuclear plants in Louisiana and Mississippi.They plan to ride out the storm inside the plants. Meanwhile, the NRC’s regional response team in Texas is monitoring wind speeds at the three plants. Plant operators already have tied down loose equipment, cleaned debris and topped off water and fuel tanks. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Transportation Security Administration has launched a request for information on how to make the screening process more comfortable for passengers. It asks industry for white papers describing new equipment or ways to improve existing equipment. The goal is to improve airport security while making the process easier on the public. TSA told potential vendors it might ask them to come in and demonstrate their technology. But the agency cautioned, it was only doing market research at this point. Officials said they haven’t decided whether they’ll move on to an acquisition. (TSA)
  • The Republican Party platform calls for a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce. And it said federal pay and benefits should be made more in line with those of the private sector. The party unveiled its platform on the eve of its national convention, taking place in Tampa, Fla. The platform said the government has become bloated, antiquated and unresponsive to taxpayers. Cuts would come through attrition. The G0P platform also calls for hiring contractors to replace Transportation Security Administration employees who screen airline passengers. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service is finally moving ahead with its plan to cut hours at post offices. It will begin notifying communities after Labor Day that their local post offices may be open for just two or four hours a day. It is going to send surveys to residents and hold public meetings. The first 4,500 post offices could cut their hours by November. When fully implemented, the plan could save the agency $500 million. It cleared a hurdle last week when it got the green light from regulators. (USPS)
  • The Justice Department may have to start over in its attempt to buy ID smart cards. The Government Accountability Office has sustained a protest from losing bidder Nik-Soft Systems. I’s the second time that the judges have ruled in the Reston company’s favor. NikSoft argued that the department gave the winning bidder., LS3 of Maryland, too rosy an assessment, and NikSoft said it could do the work for less money. GAO is telling Justice to re-evaluate the bids. (GAO)