Wednesday morning federal headlines – Jan. 30, 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 Labor Department is the latest agency to move its email to the cloud. NextGov reports, Labor has awarded a $50 million contract to InfoReliance. That company will manage Labor’s move to Microsoft cloud services. Besides email, the contract covers e-discovery, records management and software-as-a-service tools. Labor began its search for a cloud provider in August. Other agencies that have already moved to cloud email include Agriculture, Interior, GSA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Nextgov)
  • NASA Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton is retiring from government, Federal Computer Week reports. She had alluded to retirement back in October at the annual Government Computer News awards gala. Cureton became the NASA CIO in 2009, after having had a similar position at the Goddard Space Flight Center. An early adopter of social media, Cureton is an avid blogger. She’s had a long federal career, including stints at the departments of Energy and Justice, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives. She published a book about leadership in 2011. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggests there might be an alternative to sequestration. The across-the-board budget cuts are scheduled for March 1. Several lawmakers have said they are highly likely to occur. Reid says Democrats are thinking of a plan consisting of a series of incremental spending cuts coupled with increases in revenue. Reid says the revenue would come from repealing so-called tax loopholes. But some Republicans see the threat of sequestration as a lever to get deeper spending cuts without further tax hikes. (Federal News Radio)
  • The State Department has reassigned its special envoy whose job it was to close the U.S. Prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the White House says he will not be replaced. Ambassador Daniel Fried is now the sanctions coordinator at State, Reuters reports. The move seems to take the Obama administration further away from one of its early promises. In his four years, Fried did manage to transfer 40 detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. But 166 terrorist suspects remain. An administration spokesman says the White House remains committed to removing them and closing the prison. The work needed to do that will now transfer to the State Department’s top lawyer. (Reuters)
  • The Senate confirmed one of its own to become the next Secretary of State. Five-term Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was approved in a 94-3 vote. Kerry himself voted present. Opposing him were Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.). The Massachusetts governor says Kerry will resign from the Senate Friday at 4 p.m. Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the BBC, she’ll sleep in and watch home improvement TV after she departs. From Southeast D.C., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also says he’ll leave the Obama administration as soon as a successor is confirmed. (Federal News Radio)
  • Two female lawmakers want to encourage government contractors to speak openly about pay. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are asking President Barack Obama for an executive order. They say it should ban retaliation by contractors against employees who discuss their salaries. The lawmakers say the move would help shed light on the difference between men and women’s paychecks. They have introduced a bill that would prohibit any employer from retaliating against an employee who told their colleagues how much they earned. (Sen. Barbara Mikulski)
  • Federal employees aren’t at all sure their leaders are making the right decisions in the face of fiscal challenges. The Merit Systems Protection Board surveyed 42,000 feds. It says 7 out of 10 don’t believe their agencies are cutting the most unnecessary functions and positions. Nor do they see their agencies investing in their best workers. The board says it’s largely a problem of communication. It recommends leaders ask employees to help find ways to save money and update employees on their decisions as they go along. (MSPB)