Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast - April 28th

Wednesday - 4/28/2010, 8:49am EDT

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

  • Federal hiring reforms could move to the front burner as soon as next week. Government Executive reports OPM is getting closer to a memo that promotes using résumés in place of knowledge, skills and abilities essays. According to a senior human capital official, the document is almost complete and will soon be ready for approval from the White House.

  • The government's former top protector of whistle-blowers pleads guilty to withholding information from Congress. Former Special Counsel Scott Bloch faces a maximum yearlong prison term. Bloch has been accused of holding back information on his decision to delete data from government computers. He has also faced civil suits for allegedly retaliating against his own employees.

  • The House today takes up a bill designed to crack down waste in government. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act would require the head of each federal agency to review programs and activities every three fiscal years. The goal is to identify programs that are susceptible to significant improper payments. Among other things, the measure would also expand reporting requirements.

  • A congressman has accused VA Secretary Eric Shinseki of a pattern of noncompliance with requests for information about veteran suicides. Democratic Representative Harry Mitchell of Arizona was unhappy that VA's national suicide prevention coordinator, rather than Shinseki himself, was made available for a hearing -- which Mitchell eventually canceled. He sent the secretary a letter demanding an explanation.

  • The troubled Defense Travel System may never be fixed unless there are drastic changes in the rules themselves about DOD travel. There are simply too many rules to be accommodated in an online reimbursement system. That's according to David Fisher, director of DOD's Business Transformation Agency, speaking to lawmakers yesterday, reports the FederalTimes. There are 76 varieties of trips defined by DOD, and the system can only handle 61 of them. He called to legislation to enable DOD to simplify its travel policies and their more than 2,000 rules.

  • Unmanned aerial drones could soon fly over Texas. New "predator bees" have the capability to fly at altitudes used by commercial aircraft, and are designed to enhance intelligence capabilities of federal, state and local law enforcement. The San Antonio Express-News reports Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate hearing that over the past 15 months, federal law enforcement initiatives have made the border more secure than in any other time in history. Analysis of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles finds that they are twice as likely to crash as manned aircraft, so there are still issues to be worked out.

  • The warship LPD 26 may be named after Congressman John Murtha, but the decision is drawing some fire from opponents to the move. The Navy Times reports that people reacting to the announcement formed a Facebook group called "People Against Naming A Navy Ship USS Murtha". The site had about 1,300 members as of Monday morning, and has become a clearinghouse for angry comments and homemade cartoons criticizing Murtha. The Navy was getting angry responses even on its own official website. The negative reaction surrounds Murtha's opposition to the Iraq War and his accusations toward Marines in 2005 who he accused of killing Iraqis in cold blood. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus both support naming the San Antonio class vessel after Congressman Murtha.

  • President Barack Obama's top budget adviser, Peter Orszag, said on Tuesday that the U.S. government must significantly alter its policies in order to tackle a growing mountain of debt. Orszag warned that huge deficits could cause the market to lose confidence in a government's creditworthiness. Reuters reports that Orszag made the remarks at the meeting of the new 18 member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The group will be making recommendations for deficit reduction to the President.

  • How do we get out of our nation's debt crisis? Shared sacrifice. That's the word from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in an Op-Ed today in The Wall Street Journal. He says politicians need to be honest with Americans about the realities of the debt, rather than making blanket promises never to raise their taxes. He also says more than 90 percent of the projected deficit over the next decade is the result of the Bush tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial bailout of late 2008, and lower revenues from the recession.