Thursday Morning Federal Newscast - April 29th

Thursday - 4/29/2010, 8:27am 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The General Services Administration is asking for a 13.5 percent increase in discretionary spending next year. This at a time when most agencies are seeing their budgets frozen or cut. The FederalTimes reports the bulk of the $80 million increase is for two acquisition-related initiatives. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said Wednesday at a House budget hearing that GSA is requesting $21 million to modernize government-wide information systems used for managing federal purchases of goods and services. Another $25 million would fund a new program intended to improve training for federal acquisition employees, address skills gaps in the workforce and enhance mentoring within the acquisition community.

  • A major overhaul of procurement in the Defense Department cleared a hurdle. The House yesterday passed the IMPROVE Acquisition Act by a 417 to 3 vote. The bill ties salaries, bonuses and promotions of purchasing officials to performance on contracts. A new office -- Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analysis -- would be responsible for performance metrics. The bill was based on recommendations of a House Armed Services Committee panel that reviewed DOD procurement over the last year.

  • Foreign companies working for the federal government might one day face criminal prosecution for acts committed overseas. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has passed a bill that would require those companies to consent to "personal jurisdiction" in American federal courts. Government Executive reports the bill would provide legal protection for federal employees, service members and American contract workers who allege an overseas company caused bodily injury, death and rape or sexual assault. Companies that do not show up in court could face debarment or suspension from doing business with the government.

  • The House approves a bill designed to put a stop on improper payments. The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act passed Wednesday by a voice vote reports GovExec. The measure requires agencies to recover nearly $100 billion dollars that have been flagged as being misspent. Agencies would also penalize agencies that repeatedly fail to correct mistakes. The bill now moves to the Senate for a vote.

  • A new strategy outline details how the the Army will become a more agile force to meet a range of possible conflicts. The 2010 Army Modernization Strategy, released yesterday, describes a new model for how the Army recruits, organizes itself, and applies force. The strategy also addresses how the Army is overhauling the Future Combat Systems project to better support a brigade-based structure. Lieutenant General Robert Lennox, deputy chief of staff, was principal author of the 91-page strategy.

  • Federal leaders working on the expansion of high-speed Internet in the US are defending their multi-billion dollar projects. A Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee raised concerns Tuesday that the Agriculture and Commerce Departments are wasting money on broadband infrastructure projects. Specifically, that both departments are funding projects that are unnecessary or duplicate effort. But Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling says those claims are not serious objections. And NextGov reports the Agriculture Department's Jonathan Adelstein echoed the sentiment. The projects are part of the $7.2 billion dollar broadband stimulus program.

  • FEMA has launched a new mobile Web site. The site makes it easier to access critical information regarding emergency preparedness and what to do before and after a disaster using a smartphone. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the service the new site is laid out in a user friendly, question and answer format, providing users with the answers to their top questions, such as: What should I do in a disaster and where can I find assistance. FEMA is planning to make enhancements to m.fema.gov in the coming months. They'll add the ability to apply for individual assistance in a disaster and the ability to check the status of an application or update an existing application.

  • Wind power might finally be coming from off the coast of Massachusetts. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light to the Cape Wind project, planned for Nantucket Sound. It would be the nation's first offshore windmill farm. The private group hoping to build the wind farm still needs to secure financing. First proposed in 2001, Cape Wind has been tied up in legal challenges despite also being approved by the EPA. When built, it will deliver enough electricity to power 200,000 homes.