Wednesday morning federal headlines - August 10

Wednesday - 8/10/2011, 8:31am EDT

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The Education Department's personnel chief announced the department will re-fill the jobs of people who take its latest buyout offer. Chief Human Capital Officer Robert Buggs said the buyouts are not driven by tight budgets. Instead, they're a way of helping the department better align its talent with its needs. Buggs told Federal News Radio that a two-year study concluded the department needs people with different skills than it has now. An earlier buyout only saw 60 people leave of some 180 people Education hoped would do so. The second buyout was announced earlier this week, and Buggs said it will be the last last buyout offer for now. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Defense Department has begun its investigation into last weekend's shoot-down of a helicopter filled with special operations soldiers. General James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, has appointed Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., to lead the investigation. Investigators believe the helicopter, which was transporting reinforcements, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. But they want to know why the troops were called in, and whether the chopper was on a dangerous flight path. Thirty Americans and eight Afghans died. A military dog was also killed. (Federal News Radio)

  • Federal employee unions and agency heads have been holding forums to discuss operations, personnel management and agency operations. Now a new group, namely middle managers, will join those discussions, GovExec reports. OPM director John Berry has reminded agency heads not to leave out line managers from the decision-making after several managers associations wrote to OPM, complaining of being left out of the forums. (GovExec)

  • The Department of Homeland Security's seventh annual conference on cybersecurity is underway. The week-long event is hosted by US-CERT, which stands for the U.S Computer Emergency Readiness Team and includes sessions on cloud computing security, digital forensics and intrusion protection, The Hill reports. One of the speakers is Lee Rock, the acting director of US-CERT, who took over the cybersecurity team after the sudden departure of Randy Vickers last month. Rock took over the cybersecurity team after the sudden departure of Randy Vickers last month. (The Hill)

  • Lockheed Martin has snared an $84 million deal with the Air Force. The defense contractor will supply the service with four weapons systems trainers, The Washington Business Journal reports. The trainers will support Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command. Lockheed's Global Training and Logistics business unit will supply the machines, which are used to train maintenance workers and aircrew for the C-130J. (Washington Business Journal)

  • The sun unleashed a powerful solar flare early yesterday — one of the largest flares in nearly five years, the Associated Press reports. But, it took place on the side of the sun that is not facing Earth. Scientist Joe Kunches at NASA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado said there should be little impact to satellites and communication systems, although there were reports of brief short-wave radio disruptions in Asia. The sun is transitioning from a quiet period into a busier cycle, scientists have said, meaning there will likely be a spike in the number of such solar eruptions over the next three to five years. (AP)

  • Freddie Mac is losing more money, and wants more help. The mortgage financing company posted a $2.1 billion second-quarter loss. It's asking for another $1.5 billion from the Treasury Department to stay afloat, The Washington Business Journal reports. (Washington Business Journal)

  • The president of Boeing Military Aircraft isn't worried about planned cuts to the U.S. military budget, The Hill reports. Chris Chadwick said he thinks his company is better positioned than most to keep on profiting by selling hardware to Defense Department. That's because Boeing makes many of the products DoD will continue buying or maintaining. They include F-15 and F-18 fighters as well as Chinook and Apache helicopters. Chadwick said Boeing has two of the three new high-volume platforms, the P-8 surveillance plane and the KC-46 tanker. Rival Lockheed Martin has the F-35 fighter. (The Hill)

  • The Agriculture Department wants to make it easier to track livestock from the barn to the kitchen table. Under the proposed rules from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, animals being transported across state lines would have to be identified and accompanied by a certificate that it was inspected by a veterinarian. IDs wouldn't need to be elaborate. An ear tag or tattoo would do. The rules will be published tomorrow in the Federal Register, and he comment period ends November 9. (USDA)