Monday morning federal headlines – Sept. 10, 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.

  • NASA may have put a nuclear-powered robot on Mars. But two other rovers are taking home the prize. The team behind older Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity has earned a Haley Space Flight Award. The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., joins the likes of John Glenn, the first man to orbit the Earth, in receiving the award. The solar-powered Spirit and Opportunity have been on Mars for almost nine years. Opportunity is still at work, exploring rocks in search of clay, which could provide new information about a formerly wet environment.The small rovers pale in size when compared to their newest cousin, Curiosity. It landed on the red planet last month and is the size of a car. (NASA)
  • Acting OMB director Jeff Zients is throwing his weight behind a push to make strategic sourcing mandatory. The proposal comes from the President’s Management Advisory Board, on which Zients serves. Strategic sourcing is part of a White House plan to better use the government’s buying power to purchase everything from print management to mobile devices. Zients says mandatory strategic sourcing offers more rewards than risks. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House says it will deliver a report on sequestration this week despite missing Friday’s congressional deadline. The Office of Management and Budget is meeting with agencies and the White House says it needs time to address complex issues. But that doesn’t please lawmakers, who passed legislation, which the President signed into law, telling the President to deliver the report Friday. The report is supposed to outline how $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade would affect federal programs.(Federal News Radio)
  • The Border Patrol has stopped flying illegal immigrants back to Mexico, ending a 7-year experiment that cost nearly $100 million. The agency flew home more than 125,000 Mexican citizens who had crossed the border illegally. Supporters say it was a humane way to return people to Mexico and deter other would-be migrants. But officials are now struggling to fill the planes as Border Patrol arrests are at 40-year lows and fewer people are coming to the United States. (Federal News Radio)
  • The FOIA backlog is growing. Agencies received more than 640,000 Freedom of Information Act requests last year, an 8 percent increase from the year before. And the backlog grew to more than 83,000 pending requests even though the government added more staff and spent an extra $20 million on FOIA activities. But it still couldn’t keep up. The Department of Homeland Security had the biggest number of overdue requests. The Justice Department has released the latest figures in its summary of annual FOIA reports.(Federal News Radio)
  • Congress returns to work today with a full plate of bills to pass but lawmakers have little much appetite for any of them. Lawmakers however are expected to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for another six months. Funding for food stamps would dry up if lawmakers don’t pass a farm bill to replace or extend the existing law that expires at the end of the month. Other bills awaiting action include cybersecurity reform and a bailout for the Postal Service. And lawmakers aren’t likely to take up the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration until after the November election.(Federal News Radio)