Wednesday morning federal headlines - Sept. 14

Wednesday - 9/14/2011, 8:43am 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 intelligence community faces its first budget squeeze since the 9/11 attacks a decade ago. But the two top intel leaders said they'll try to preserve the workforce and find cuts somewhere else. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told lawmakers he'll ask managers to look at ways to trim technology spending. CIA director David Petraeus said he would review contractor spending. (Federal News Radio)

  • A bill to avert another FAA shutdown has passed the House and now heads to the Senate, which is expected to approve the stopgap bill. It extends operating authority for the Federal Aviation Administration through the end of January. Federal highway and transit programs are funded through the end of March. Current funding expires on Friday. The bill does not contain any of the contentious provisions that led to a partial shutdown in early August. Some 4,000 workers were furloughed and more than 200 airport construction and safety projects halted when lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill. (Federal News Radio)

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology has added two more chapters to the book on cloud computing. It published new documents designed to help federal agencies deal with a mandate to use cloud computing covering security and other standards, architecture and the language used to describe computing-as-a-service. They'll become part of a comprehensive document NIST plans to publish in November. The Office of Management and Budget wants agencies to use cloud computing as a way to reduce redundancy and cost. (NIST)

    Some lawmakers are mulling a proposal to create an Inspector General in charge of overseas operations. Fifteen House Democrats think so, and have introduced a bill that creates the new IG position. The move comes after last month's scathing report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which said billions of dollars are wasted in war contracting related to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Hill reports that the legislation by Massachusetts Democrat John Tierney would create a special inspector general charged with providing "objective supervision" of audits, promoting efficiency and preventing and detecting fraud related to contracting. (The Hill)

  • Look for some new, young computer geeks running around your agency. They might be members of the Tech Fellows program. Patterned after the Presidential Management Fellows program, Tech Fellows launched yesterday. The new federal CIO, Steven Van Roekel, said the program lets agencies avoid bureaucratic barriers to bringing in talent. The fellows will get the chance to work on large, complex systems right away. Would-be fellows can apply starting tomorrow. Applications are due to the Office of Personnel Management by Sept. 25. Fellows begin arriving for work in January. (Federal News Radio)

  • Some feds could be facing tougher rules when it comes to interacting with lobbyists. The Office of Government Ethics wants to get rid of exceptions that allow political appointees to attend events or accept gifts of less than $50 a year from lobbyists. A proposed rule in the Federal Register would expand a 2009 executive order. It stops appointees from using exceptions to accept gifts of less than $20 at one time or $50 a year. It also bans them from going to widely attended gatherings or accepting the social invitations of lobbying groups. OGE is accepting comments through Nov. 14. (Federal News Radio)

  • Energy Department and White House officials are set to appear before a House Energy and Commerce committee hearing today. The committee is looking into Energy's loan guarantee program, which lost $500 million after betting on high-profile solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, which went bankrupt last week. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said the government should not try to pick winners and losers. Executives from Solyndra were invited but are expected to appear next week. Some lawmakers suggest politics was behind the loan guarantee, since a major Solyndra investor also raised money for the president's 2008 election campaign. (Federal News Radio)