Monday morning federal headlines – Sept. 24, 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 giant swooshing sound you heard was Congress leaving town. It’s out of session until after the November national election. Before adjournment, the Senate passed a $500 billion continuing resolution bill, following House passage of its version. Once the president signs the CR, the government will be assured of no shutdown on Sept. 30. But Congress left undone passage of a farm bill that covers many federal food and nutrition programs, and it has yet to find an alternative to sequestration, which will automatically cut budgets in January. Expect a lot of honking from the lame duck session. (Federal News Radio)
  • Agencies have a week to meet a mandate to upgrade their public-facing networks. But few will make the deadline. Since 2005, the Office of Management and Budget has been urging agencies to upgrade to version six of the Internet Protocol. Commerce Department figures show that 58 percent of agencies are nowhere near complete. Conversion will ensure networks remain universally accessible in the future. There’s no immediate danger to websites and services that still use IP version four. All new devices and data center gear use IP version six, because Internet addresses available under the old protocol have run out. Commerce also reports, half of agencies haven’t upgraded the security for their top level domains. (Federal News Radio)
  • Before leaving town, senators introduced a bill to expand The new legislation mirrors one that passed the House months ago. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) sponsored the measure. It would require governmentwide standards for financial data, including information on waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments. Supporters envision the public tracking federal spending via the website. Warner said it could help policy makers too. (Senate)
  • The Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia is reverberating in the presidential campaign. The Homeland Security inspector general found a hotel record of an administration employee. The IG indicated that person might have been involved in bringing prostitutes to rooms of the president’s Secret Service detail. The discovery prompted two Republican senators to call for more information. Charles Edwards, the DHS acting inspector general, said his office is only looking at Secret Service activities, and that it didn’t pursue the possible role of the White House worker. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wonders why the IG’s final report is so long overdue. (Federal News Radio)
  • As if delivering the mail weren’t enough, the Postal Service is taking on another task: getting drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Florida news station WWSB reported the agency was tired of drivers crashing into post offices in that state. Eight Florida post offices have been crashed into just this year. One woman plowed into a post office lobby because she hit the gas rather than the brakes. The Postal Service says that’s a common reason for the accidents. The other is that customers think they’re in drive when they’re really in reverse. (WWSB)
  • Twenty-two labor and public interest groups are supporting poultry inspectors in their fight against the Agriculture Department. The coalition has sent a letter to USDA urging it to withdraw a proposal to speed up poultry inspections. The agency wants inspectors to check 175 birds per minute. The groups, which include the AFL-CIO, said that would be hard on poultry plant workers. They also said the proposal would give the industry too much control over testing protocols and would let them replace federal inspectors with their own employees. USDA said the plan lets it focus on the most serious health hazards. (Federal News Radio)
  • Government auditors said the Department of Homeland Security needed more discipline when it comes to managing its investments. The Government Accountability Office looked at 71 programs. It said nearly all of them were experiencing hiccups like uncertain funding, a shortage of workers or a change of resources. The auditors said these problems weren’t new, but they were growing more expensive. It said DHS needed to manage its acquisition portfolio as a whole rather than looking at each program individually. And it said while the department has some good policies on the books, program managers have to follow them. (GAO)