Tuesday morning federal headlines Sept. 6

Tuesday - 9/6/2011, 8:30am 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.

  • Veterans Affairs has taken a big step toward opening its electronic health record system. VA said it will release the entire VistA source code to the open-source world under the Freedom of Information Act. Vista is VA's online system for managing health care and is also part of an agreement with the Defense Department to develop a single, common electronic health record for service members who move on to eventual veteran status. DOD and VA have already enlisted a third party to operate a web site where government, industry and academia can collaborate on the electronic health record called the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Social Security Administration plans to ban threatening people from its offices. A proposed rule lists four reasons for a ban: The person might have verbally assaulted SSA employees, threatened them with violence, disrupted their work or interfered with office operations. Commissioner Michael Astrue says banned people would be kept from all Social Security offices nationwide. Under the rule, now open for comment, SSA would notify people in writing that they're no longer allowed to set foot on SSA premises. Last year threats against Social Security personnel rose 43 percent to a total of two thousand, eight hundred. (Federal News Radio)

  • Two federal workers have lost their jobs after two separate Hatch Act violations. The Office of Special Counsel and the Merit Systems Protection Board released the details on their decisions. The first, an employee with the National Institutes of Health, was let go after soliciting political contributions at work and making political donations from her government computer. She also invited dozens of NIH employees to a political fundraiser at her Maryland home. A second employee at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families lost his job after running for local city council. The Hatch Act prohibits state and local employees from being candidates in partisan elections. (Office of Special Counsel)

  • The FBI and Homeland Security are warning people to be on the lookout for al-Qaida threats using small planes, with less than a week remaining until the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The agencies said that earlier this year, intelligence showed al-Qaida considering ways to attack planes of all sizes. In one scenario, terrorists would rent a small plan and load it with explosives. A Homeland Security spokesman described the warning bulletin as routine. (Federal News Radio)

  • The U.S. Postal Service could lose up to $10 billion a year, and may go broke by the end of this month. That's what Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is expected to tell Congress this morning when he testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Postal Service has been working to get lawmakers to grant them the legal authority to change delivery schedules, close postal offices and possibly lay off hundreds of thousands of workers. (Federal News Radio)

  • Congress's debt reduction super committee will hold its first organizational meeting this Thursday. Its first public hearing is slated for Sept. 13. Co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)said Thursday's meeting will focus on proposed committee rules, GovExec reports. The second hearing will include testimony from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf on "The History and Drivers of Our Nation's Debt and its Threats." The committee is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by the end of the year. (GovExec)

  • David Petraeus will be sworn in today as the 20th director of the CIA. The four-star general retired from the Army last week as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. While Petraeus and the White House at times disagreed over war strategy in Afghanistan, the president and Petraeus are said to have reached a new level of trust, the Associate Press reports. (Federal News Radio)

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has named David Robbins the agency's new managing director, NextGov reports. Robbins comes from the Small Business Administration, where he was an associate administrator for the Office of Management and Administration.The managing director oversees both daily operations, and budget and finance matters. Robbins replaces Steven Van Roekel, whom the president has nominated to become federal CIO. (NextGov)