Friday morning federal headlines – Sept. 7, 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.

  • Senate staff asked the inspector general of the General Services Administration to explain its aggressive tactics. The questioning came during a call preparing the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee for a hearing on GSA conference spending. Staff members wanted to know why an investigator woke a manager late at night after finding no wrongdoing. The incident occurred at the recent SmartPay conference in Nashville. It was first reported by Federal News Radio. Committee staff confirmed the questioning, but IG Brian Miller wouldn’t comment. (Federal News Radio)
  • The State Department has until Sunday to decide whether a Pakistani-based militant group is officially a terrorist organization. The designation means the government would have to impose blanket sanctions on the Haqqani network. Officials told the Associated Press that could actually increase the network’s appeal among would-be jihadists and hurt U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to deliver her verdict to Congress later today. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Food and Drug Administration is approving cancer treatments at a faster rate than other new drugs. Tufts University found FDA takes 10 months less to approve oncology drugs than others. Researchers said a smoother regulatory process has cut six months out of the process for drug makers compared with a decade ago. But they found that for non-cancer drugs the FDA takes longer than its European counterparts. The EU approves those drugs in about two-thirds of the time than it takes the FDA. (Tufts University)
  • A review of terrorism statistics from the Justice Department shows officials gave Congress slightly incorrect information. The numbers came out in an inspector general report. It says Justice reported 512 people were charged with terrorism or terrorism-related crimes in the six years after the 9/11 attacks. But an audit came up with a figure of 544 people. Justice also reported that 319 people were convicted or pleaded guilty to terrorism or related crimes during that time. The audit showed 324. A Justice spokesman said the department is committed to accurately reporting terror-related investigations. (Federal News Radio)
  • Cyber attacks might be a two-edged sword. Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel said they could be damaging to federal information systems and data. But their intensity could force agencies to adopt real change. He said federal managers faced other intense pressures. These included citizens’ desire for convenient, online government transactions. Budget pressures could also force innovation. He pointed out, Microsoft and General Electric were launched during economic downturns. Van Roekel spoke at the Excellence in Government Conference. (NextGov)
  • The new Amazon Kindle Fire HD could increase competition in the federal mobility market. The device, announced yesterday, has a higher resolution screen than old models. A 9-inch model due to ship in November nearly matches the Apple iPad but will cost less. The Kindle now has two WiFi antennas and a battery life of 11 hours. The Amazon app market is no match for those of the Apple or Android devices. But you can get Docs-to-Go, Adobe reader and any of 54 web browsers. (Federal News Radio)