Federal Drive Show Blog – December 6, 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 Interviews:


Eric Letvin & Marc Levitan
Director of Disaster and Failure Studies & Leader of Research and Development under the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program

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An unusual spate of tornado disasters got researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology thinking. They’ve come up with a list of recommended updates to construction codes so that buildings stand a better chance against twisters.

They’ve spent two years poring over details of the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in 2011. It wrecked 8,000 structures and killed 161 people. Eric Letvin is director of Disaster and Failure Studies at NIST, and Marc Levitan is the R&D leader for National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.

David Ogden
Wilmerhale’s Government and Regulatory Litigation Group

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Experts are pushing for changes to the False Claims Act. FCA is supposed to deter fraud against the government and help recover funds. But agencies are still losing money to fraud and abuse. David Ogden is the chair of Wilmerhale’s Government and Regulatory Litigation Group. He’s participating in a panel discussion today on reforming the False Claims Act.

Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

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With Congress inching closer to a budget deal, federal employee unions are turning up the heat on lawmakers. Once again, the American Federation of Government Employees and National Treasury Employees Union are saying “enough is enough” with the attempts to find savings on the backs of federal employees. They’re telling Congress not to increase the amount feds contribute to their retirement. Federal News Radio’s executive editor Jason Miller has details on the unions’ concerns and the potential impact on your retirement benefits.

Jared Serbu
DoD Reporter
Federal News Radio

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The Veterans Affairs Department has made numerous changes under its claims transformation initiative designed to improve the speed and accuracy of its disability claims process. While VA figures show the changes have helped reduce the claims backlog, outside audits say VA is still struggling to get its most complex cases handled correctly. More from Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu.

Julia Ziegler
Web Manager
Federal News Radio

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced this week he will cut his staff by 20 percent in an effort to save $1 billion over 5 years. What do federal employees think about the plan? Federal News Radio’s Web Manager Julia Ziegler has more.

Heard Tom and Emily talk about another story during the show, but don’t see it here? Check out our daily federal headlines for the latest news affecting the federal community.