Thursday Morning Federal Newscast - May 13th

Thursday - 5/13/2010, 8:34am EDT

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive host Tom Temin 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.

  • A House panel has approved a bigger pay raise for military service members, despite warnings against ballooning costs for the Defense Department. Congress Daily reports the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee gave the green light to a 1.9 percent pay hike next year. That's a half-percent higher than what the president has asked for. The panel's chair, Congresswoman Susan Davis, says it's designed to tighten the gap between military and private sector pay, but senior defense leaders have warned that rising personnel costs are threatening operations and acquisition funds.

  • A federal grand jury has accused two people of stealing personal information on TSA workers at Boston's Logan International Airport. Prosecutors say Michael Derring and Tina White lifted Social Security Numbers and other information with the help of a contractor who worked for TSA's human resources department in the airport. Reuters reports the couple allegedly used the identities to set up accounts for electricity, cable tv, phone and other services. There's no indication the personal details were passed on to militant groups that might be planning an attack.

  • Nine people were indicted yesterday on federal charges for accessing President Obama's student loan records. All were employed by an Education Department contractor at Coralville, Iowa, when they sought the records between 2007, when Obama was a candidate, and 2009, after he was inaugurated. If convicted, the nine face up to a year in prison and fines of $100,000.

  • Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, understated the number of household staff he employed, and didn't properly document their eligibility to work in the U.S. That's according to a Senate Finance Committee staff report issued yesterday. Bersin got the job in a recess appointment, and the report might hinder a permanent appointment, which requires Senate confirmation, according to GovExec.

  • The U.S. Postal Service's top marketing executive is resigning. The news comes in the wake of an investigation into the executive awarding nearly $6 million dollars in controversial no-bid contracts to his former business associates. Postmaster General John Potter says that the Mailing and Shipping Services President Robert Bernstock is leaving to persure opportunities in the private sector. Bernstock joined USPS back in June of 2008. This is the second investigation into Bernstock's spending. The Federal Times reports, Bernstock is credited with creating the new pricing incentives and marketing campaigns that helped grow mail volume and revenue.

  • The government's spending plan for 2011 remains on hold. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad says getting floor time for the measure has been difficult. He tells Congress Daily that financial regulation reform and other priorities, like the war supplemental, could slow the budget resolution's progress. Federal News Radio told you yesterday that Congress watchers say they wouldn't be surprised if a continuing resolution would be needed to keep the government operating after the fiscal year funding expires at the beginning of October. Conrad says he's uncertain whether the budget bill will pass even before the fiscal year ends in September.

  • A new study says contractors will take a $36 billion dollar hit in the President's fiscal 2011 budget. That's a nearly five percent decline in spending from this year. The cuts are largely a result of the rising cost of energy and health care combined with President Obama's freeze on discretionary spending. FedSource, the market research firm behind the study, says government spending on contractors will remain relatively flat through fiscal year 2014, reports FederalTimes. Reduced contracting will mean fiercer competition for the contracts that are available.

  • New legislation would prohibit the government from awarding any contract, grant or loan to any company doing business with Iran. The bill would expand the 1996 Iran Sanction Act which restricts American firms from investing in Iran's energy sector. GovExec reports that right now at least seven foreign companies that are doing business in Iran's energy sector who have also won U.S. government contracts in the past five years. Senator Joseph Liberman (I-Conn) told the Homeland Security and Governmental Affair Committee that firms doing business with Iran need to make a choice about their business partners. The Defense Department says the contracts were critical to support mission requirements of worldwide military operations and were therefore not banned.