Thursday federal headlines – November 7, 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 full Senate will get the chance to vote on two bills that underscore the government’s dependency on data. The first bill approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the DATA Act, would set governmentwide financial reporting standards and require agencies to post more details of their spending to a central website. The other bill would set hard deadlines for agencies to close some data centers and merge others. If it passes, the measure would add legal muscle to a White House initiative. Committee members say agencies have been slow to act on the directive. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Labor Department wants companies to file injury and illness reports electronically so they can be posted online for anyone to see. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will announce the plan today. A source tells the Associated Press, it’s part of a proposed rule that would dramatically change the way companies file safety records. An OSHA description of the rule says the agency will build a new electronic reporting system. But the plan would apply only to companies with more than 250 employees. (Associated Press)
  • Senators on the Finance Committee grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans bluntly challenged her honesty and pushed for her resignation. Sebelius held her ground but said still needs hundreds of fixes. She says its performance and capacity are improving daily. It bogs down once 1,000 people log on simultaneously. Separately, some Democratic senators appeal to President Obama. They worry problems with the health care law could hinder their own re-elections. (Associated Press)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief information officer is leaving amid lingering problems with An agency spokeswoman says Tony Trenkle will leave next week for the private sector. CBS News reports, Trenkle was supposed to sign off on the website’s security prior to launch, but he did not. Instead, Administrator Marilyn Tavenner did because it was such a high-profile project. But since then, data security problems have surfaced. (Federal News Radio)
  • The plot thickens. A third top Navy officer has been arrested in connection with a bribery scandal in southeast Asia. Prosecutors say Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez accepted prostitutes, cash and other gifts from a long-time Navy contractor. In exchange, he allegedly gave classified information to Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia. The company had serviced Naval ships for more than two decades, and prosecutors say it overbilled the government by millions. Its contracts have since been suspended. Prosecutors are pursuing charges against two other Navy officers, and they suggest there could be more to come. A hearing is set for Friday. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force has expanded the options under its big Network Centric Solutions-2 program. It adds nine companies to the roster. They include Dell Federal Systems, Harris IT Services, Sterling Computers, Force 3, and PCMall. That brings the total number of contractors under NETCENTS-2 to 25. NETCENTS is a mandatory, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity set of contracts under which the Air Force buys networking equipment. It has an estimated ceiling value of $6.9 billion. (Federal Times)
  • Agencies get a homework assignment from President Obama. In a new executive order, he tells them to integrate climate change considerations into their operations. Agencies have 120 days to develop adaptation plans, which they’ll update annually. Senior officials will form a new Council on Climate Preparedness. It replaces a task force dating to 2009. One Council job: Examining how missions affect climate change. (White House)
  • Federal IT investment efforts get slammed in two new GAO reports. In one, the Government Accountability Office looked at 10 big operations and maintenance spending lines. Together they’re worth more than $7 billion a year. Auditors found that in nine of them, agencies didn’t do operational analyses, as required by policy. Only Customs and Border Protection at Homeland Security performed the correct analysis. In its other report, GAO says agencies’ IT portfolio reviews are nearly all incomplete. (GAO)