Friday federal headlines – May 2, 2014

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 House votes down a call to resurrect the Office of Technology Assessment. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) was pushing to reopen the OTA. His proposal lost by a vote of 164 to 248. The office used to be Congress’ personal think tank for science and technology issues. A wave of budget cuts closed it down in the mid 1990s. Congressman Holt first tried to restart OTA back in 2011. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House issued six recommendations for protecting privacy in the era of big data. They follow a 90-day review of big data policies and practices. The study was conducted by a working group of administration insiders. It was led by Obama adviser John Podesta. The working group warns against data analytics leading to discriminatory outcomes. Among the recommendations were passing data breach legislation and advancing a consumer bill of rights. The working group also recommends amendments to the electronic privacy act and ensuring student data is used strictly for educational purposes. (Federal News Radio)
  • David Mader is President Obama’s pick to be the next controller of the Office of Management and Budget. The job has been vacant since Danny Werfel left to became acting IRS commissioner in May of last year. Mader is a long-time IRS employee. He retired and now works at Booz Allen Hamilton as a senior vice president for strategy. At the IRS, Mader rose to senior executive ranks, including acting deputy commissioner and chief information officer. He left government in 2003. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House has a long list of nominees to fill leadership positions across the federal government. Robert Gordon is tapped to be the next assistant secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the Education Department. The President nominates Cheryl LaFleur to be commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Jeffrey Murawsky is nominated to be undersecretary for Health at the Veterans Affairs Department. (White House)
  • The Obama Administration nominates four people to serve as U.S. ambassadors. Mark Lippert is nominated to be the ambassador for Korea. He currently serves as the assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. James Nealon is tapped to be ambassador for Honduras. The State Department’s Dana Smith is chosen to serve in Qatar. The administration is asking Ambassador George Krol to switch countries. He’s currently the ambassador for Uzbekistan. President Obama is asking him to switch to Kazakhstan. All four nominees require Senate confirmation. (Associated Press)
  • The General Services Administration chooses Gilbane Building Company to construct a diplomacy center. It will serve both as a small museum and a new public entrance to the State Department. The contract is worth $25 million and will take 18 months to complete. Construction is expected to start this summer. The private Diplomacy Center Foundation is paying for the project. It will be located at department’s doors at 21st Street NW. The Beyer Blinder Belle firm did the design and architectural work. (State Department)
  • Three executives at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix are on administrative leave for allegations of corruption and unnecessary death. They include Phoenix VA Health Care System Director Sharon Helman and associate director Lance Robinson. No word yet on who the third executive is. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says all three will stay on leave until further notice. Up to 40 people might have died because the hospital allegedly kept a secret waiting list of patients to hide treatment delays. (Associated Press)
  • The House Armed Services Committee wants to freeze some of the funding for the Army’s biggest weapons program in fiscal 2015. The committee wants to limit the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program to 80 percent funding in the 2015 Defense authorization bill. If the measure is passed, the Army can reclaim the other 20 percent based on a progress report due by March 1 of next year. Breaking Defense reports the funding split might open a tiny door for General Dynamics to get a slice of the contract with a wheeled version of the vehicle. General Dynamics formally protested the contract award to BAE Systems earlier this year. (Breaking Defense)
  • A federal judge bans the Pentagon from working with a supplier of rockets that launch military satellites because of its ties to Russia. The company, United Launch Alliance, is a joint business between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. It buys engines from a Russian company and has an exclusive contract with the Defense Department. The judge says the company can’t make any deals with Russian company Energomash because of new sanctions stemming from the crisis in Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reports the American company is working with the Justice Department to overturn the decision. (Wall Street Journal)