Federal Drive Show Blog – April 5, 2013

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to our interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day, as well as links to other stories and resources we discuss.

Today’s guests:


Greg Long
Executive Director
Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board

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Auto-enrollment for new hires into the Thrift Savings Plan has increased participation in the government’s 401-k like system over the last few years. When new employees are hired, they are automatically enrolled in the TSP’s G-Fund, the safest fund made up of government securities. At a recent meeting of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which runs the TSP, an idea was raised to switch the default fund which new hires are enrolled in. Instead of putting money into the G-Fund, participants would be enrolled in an appropriate Lifecycle Fund. The L-Funds get less risky as participants get closer to retirement age. Greg Long, executive director of the Board, spoke with Tom about the idea of changing automatic enrollment.

James Franklin
Branch Chief, Hurricane Specialist Unit
National Hurricane Center

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Weather people are never satisfied. That’s why they spend their lives trying to improve the accuracy of forecasts. Now, the National Hurricane Center is embarking on a program to give people more warning about floods. It takes understanding of a lot of variables and a lot of computer power. James Franklin, branch chief of the Hurricane Specialist Unit at the National Hurricane Center, spoke with Emily and Tom about the new program.

Deborah Jin
National Institute of Standards and Technology – JILA

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Imagine molecules so cold you can see the chemical reactions in slow motion. Deborah Jin, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who works at JILA, is the first to make it happen. Her work may help scientists better understand the molecular processes which are important for medicine and new energy sources. She’s been awarded a 2013 Women in Science Award for her efforts. She spoke with Tom and Emily about what her work means.

Also on the show:

From Our Reporters:

  • When it comes to preventing suicides, the Army believes it often has enough information on at-risk soldiers to spot them ahead of time and intervene before they take their own lives. The trouble is that information isn’t shared between various Army components and commands. Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu reports on an Army IT program that aims to fix that. Read Jared’s story and listen to his report.
  • The Army believes it’s now doing a good job of getting the latest and greatest technology into the hands of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, and deploying that technology as one integrated package. It’s doing that through the Network Integration Evaluation it does twice a year. The technology on Army bases stateside is another matter. The Army says it’s antiquated, hasn’t kept pace, and can’t interface with the IT gear soldiers use on the battlefield. So, Army Secretary John McHugh is ordering the service take the same approach it’s now using to upgrade tactical networks, and begin using it to modernize military installations. It’s called Capability Set Management. Colonel Mark Elliot is the director of the Army’s LandWarNet Mission Command directorate, one of the organizations that helped develop Capability Set Management as part of the NIE process. He talked with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu on this week’s edition of On DoD. Listen to the full interview.

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