Federal Drive interviews – Oct. 12, 2012

Dr. David WinelandPhysicist, NIST

Research into very tiny particles has resulted in a very big prize for a federal scientist. David Wineland gained worldwide renown in quantum mechanics. His most recent work has upended some major theories, and he’s won the Nobel prize.

Diane SullivanLead Sustainability Planner, National Capital Planning Commission

You may want to take a good look the next time you’re on Independence Avenue by the National Mall. Those hulking federal buildings to the South may not be there much longer. The General Services Administration is considering redeveloping L’Enfant Plaza. That means the Energy Department complex, FAA buildings, General Services Administration offices and the old Cotton Annex could go.


Rebecca SpitzgoAssociate Administrator, Bureau of Clinician Recruitment and Services, HHS

Getting the right doctor to go where he or she is needed most is no easy task. Recruiting is expensive and it takes time.Yet many communities remain shorthanded in healthcare. So, Rebecca Spitzgo came up with a solution. She’s an HHS Innovation award winner.

Chris O’ConnorsSARSAT program director, NOAA

NOAA satellites are famous for helping predict the weather. But a whole fleet of them help save lives, too. In fact, this month NOAA is celebrating 30 years of a program that involves a fleet of a dozen satellites and international cooperation. O’Connors is the program director for NOAA’s Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, or SARSAT.

Ed ZurndorferRegistered Employee Benefit Consultant

We apologize in advance is this messes up your plans for the weekend, but this is your reminder that Monday is the deadline to file an amended 2011 tax return. And if you performed a Roth IRA conversion, Monday is also your last day to change it back. Why would you want to do that?


DoD Report

The Pentagon is paying aerospace giant Boeing $2 billion to keep doing what it’s doing with C-17 transport planes. The follow-on contract will run for five years. The Chicago-based company supplies forecasting, purchasing and material management for the hulking aircraft. The performance-based logistics program began 24 years ago. At that time, there were 42 planes. Now there are six times as many. Boeing says it has lowered costs through economies of scale. The C-17 carries large equipment and supplies to troops. Performance-based logistics contracts let the Pentagon pay for a certain level of readiness rather than for a specific number of spare parts. (Sacramento Bee)

The government’s watchdog in Afghanistan is warning troops: their lives may be at risk because of contract fraud. The military has hired local contractors to install and inspect culvert denial systems, which block insurgents’ access to main roads. The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction says many of those systems don’t exist. Others that were installed weren’t done correctly. The special IG says troops aren’t as safe as the military thinks. Insurgents can plant improvised explosive devices along those roads. (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)

Cybersecurity Update

The Defense Department’s worst cyber fears are coming true. Secretary Leon Panetta told of escalating and damaging cyber attacks against Middle East oil and gas companies. He warns the state-sponsored attacks could start hitting critical infrastructure in the United States. Panetta spoke in New York. He described how a virus called Shamoon attacked computers of the Saudi state oil company in August. It forced Aramco to replace 30,000 machines. Panetta says, this is a pre-9/11 moment, and that the attackers are plotting. He didn’t tie the Aramco attacks to Iran. But, he says, Iran, Russia and China are all bad actors in cyberspace. (Federal News Radio)

The White House says you don’t have to be a tech whiz to put cybersecurity on your priority list. Andy Ozment in the White House cybersecurity coordinator office says more budget folks are getting the message. The Obama administration is trying to get agencies to join in three governmentwide projects: One entails using the H-S-P-D-twelve smart identification cards. The second is the Trusted Internet Connections Initiative. And the last is continuous monitoring of computer networks. The White House outlined those goals in its fiscal 2013 budget request to Congress, something all federal financial folks scrutinize. (Federal News Radio)