Thursday morning federal headlines – March 28, 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 Coast Guard and local law enforcement teamed up for exercises in a small flotilla off New York City. Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office also joined the Coast Guard and New York and New Jersey first responders. Together they rehearsed the detection of nuclear threats that might be coming in by boat. Huban Gowadia is acting director of the Nuclear Detection Office. In a blog post, he says crews learned best practices for finding and stopping illicit nuclear materials. (DHS)
  • The Postal Service is speeding up the closure of mail facilities in a cost-cutting scheme. It says 53 mail processing plants will either merge or shut down this year rather than next year. That’s on top of 18 others that it announced in January. The Postal Service told the American Postal Workers Union some career employees will be reassigned. The union said it was outraged. It predicted the closures would eliminate jobs, hurt communities and delay mail delivery. No Washington-area facilities are on the latest list, but some in Baltimore and Richmond are. (APWU)
  • Maybe sequestration isn’t that bad after all. One of the leading critics of the spending cuts is changing his tune. George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller told The Washington Business Journal job losses won’t be as big or as sudden as he once predicted. Based on new laws and information from the agencies, Fuller said sequestration might lower GDP 1 percent at most. He had previously helped spread fear over sequestration last year through research commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association. He had suggested hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost. (The Washington Business Journal)
  • Sharpshooters with the National Park Service are hunting deer in Rock Creek Park. They’re working overnights through Saturday morning. It’s part of an agency plan to protect native plants and animals. The Park Service says the white-tailed deer began showing up in the 1960s. They’re not native to the region. The agency says the deer have led to a decline in tree seedlings. A judge gave the agency the go-ahead earlier this month after rejecting a lawsuit from an animal-rights group. The park has more than 70 deer per square mile. It wants to reduce that number to 20. The park service says it’s killing the deer in a way that the meat can be donated or left for scavenger animals. (WTOP/NPS)
  • The Office of Management and Budget is overhauling how it does TechStat review sessions. CIO Steven VanRoekel estimates the deep-dive looks at how IT investments have already saved the government hundreds of millions of dollars. But now they’ll shift from how agencies buy technology to how they manage it. The reviews will examine ways to make IT more efficient. In a memo to agency heads, VanRoekel said he wants to strengthen the authority of departmental CIOs. And he wants to make progress on consolidating data centers part of the TechStat process. (The White House)