Friday morning federal headlines – Jan. 18, 2013

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 Homeland Security Department is losing a senior cybersecurity official. Mike Locatis, the assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, leaves today. In an e-mail obtained by Federal News Radio, his boss, Rand Beers, said he’s sorry to see Locatis leave after only nine months on the job. Before joining DHS, Locatis spent 18 months as the Energy Department’s CIO. The Beers e-mail said Locatis plans to move back to Colorado to rejoin his family. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office said, once again, it cannot fully audit the government’s books. It failed to give a clean opinion on the consolidated financial statements for fiscal 2011 and 2012. Comptroller Gene Dodaro said that underscores an urgent need for better financial management. GAO blamed material weaknesses in internal controls and singled out the Pentagon. The Defense Department holds more than one-third of the government’s assets. GAO also said the government, as a whole, has to figure out how to prevent $107 billion in improper payments. (GAO)
  • If anyone has to be a jack of all trades, it’s federal chief information officers. In its latest version of CIO core competencies, the CIO Council has added multiple topics to the list of items CIOs are expected to know about. The Council reviews the competencies list every two years, which guides the development of training courses for CIOs. This year, the Council added new skills for IT governance and program management, vendor management, cybersecurity, social media, and cloud computing, among others. (CIO Council)
  • The Small Business Administration has launched the test version of a new website designed to streamline federal contracting for small technology companies. RFP-EZ was developed by White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. The idea behind the site is to let small businesses easily access low-dollar contracting opportunities. At the same time, the government can quickly engage what SBA calls high-impact, innovative companies. SBA said RFP-EZ is the first of five projects assigned to the fellows aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and the economy. (RFP-EZ)
  • One of the largest federal unions said the White House doesn’t seem to be listening to its concerns over sequestration. The American Federation of Government Employees’ new letter to Controller Danny Werfel oozes with frustration. The union worries that agencies will furlough or lay off federal employees and give their work to service contractors. AFGE asked the Office of Management and Budget to address the issue in guidance to agencies, but a recent OMB memo was silent on the issue. (AFGE)
  • The government is about to change the look and layout of Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood. The General Services Administration opens online bidding today for the Georgetown West Heating Plant. GSA has scheduled a soft close to the auction for Feb. 19. If the agency doesn’t like the bids it receives, it could keep the auction open. The towering structure was a steam heating plant for federal buildings, but it’s no longer used. The Georgetown Dish reported, at least two groups plan to bid, one with the idea of converting the property into condominiums. (
  • Six-thousand National Guard soldiers and airmen from all over the country are coming to D.C. to assist with the Presidential Inauguration. There will be mass in-processing today at the D.C. National Guard Armory, Joint Base Andrews and Fort Belvoir. Members will be sworn in and designated as special police to support U.S. Park Police and the District of Columbia’s police force, fire and transportation units. The guardsmen will help during Monday’s events with security, crisis response, traffic and crowd control. Another 2,000 personnel will be on alert this weekend in Maryland and Virginia. The troops come from more than 25 states and territories. (DC National Guard)
  • The Army will delay its next-generation Ground Combat Vehicle program. It plans to stretch out the technology development phase by six months, according to When the Army awards a contract to actually build the vehicles, it will pick one vendor, not the two it originally promised. That contract won’t come until late in fiscal 2014. A memo from the Pentagon said the delay was prompted by tight budgets the Army expects. The Army also needs more time to finish the design phase. BAE Systems and General Dynamics are the prime development contractors. (Defense News)
  • The Air Force’s cyber chief is warning that Iran will be a “force to be reckoned with” in cyberspace. Air Force General William Shelton said a cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities two years ago was a wake up call for the country, according to Reuters. The Stuxnet virus attack is thought to have come from Israel and the United States. Since then, Shelton said, Iran has bolstered its cyber capabilities. He would not say whether it’s now strong enough to attack U.S. government networks. Shelton said the Air Force has thwarted nearly every attempt against the Pentagon. He added, the Air Force is hiring 1,000 more cyber professionals. (Reuters)
  • The Smithsonian and the Patent and Trademark Office are bringing innovation to one of the oldest buildings on the National Mall. They plan to reopen the 123-year-old Arts and Industries Building next year. It was closed in 2004 because of structural problems. PTO is spending $7.5 million on exhibits about the history of American innovation. They’ll be showcased in a new innovation pavilion. While the building is under construction, the agency will host an expo at its headquarters in Alexandria. It opens in June and tells the story of the agency’s role in innovation and technology development. (Associated Press)