Friday Morning Federal Newscast - May 14th

Friday - 5/14/2010, 8:45am 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.

  • Cost may have been what brought down a Congressional proposal to boost telework in the federal government. Kate Corrigan of public policy group Workplace Flexibility 2010, says perception the Telework Improvements Act would cost too much caused its downfall in the House last week. The Congressional Budget Office has pegged the bill's price tag at $32-million dollars between this year and 2015. Corrigan was cited in Government Executive and made her comments at a New America Foundation event on Thursday.

  • Federal agencies may soon need to post contract documents on the Web. The civilian and defense acquisition councils are calling for public comments on how to make it happen, and whether it should be a requirement. The move is designed to boost transparency, but with online posting comes concern of compromising proprietary and confidential information about contractors. The councils are asking for ideas on that as well.

  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has named two officials to oversee a restructuring of the Minerals Management Service. Salazar said earlier this week he would split the agency in two divisions. One to oversea offshore drilling safety, and one to collect oil and gas royalties. Managing the overhaul will be Rhea Suh, assistant Interior Secretary for policy, management and budget; and Chris Henderson, a senior adviser to Salazar. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Interior subcommittee, said she'll convene a hearing on the restructuring plan.

  • More trouble for Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus of Montana expressed doubts about Bersin during a confirmation hearing yesterday, according to GovExec. At issue is Bersin's initial failure to disclose the number of household workers he had hired, and the workers' lack of I-9 forms. Baucus said the issue goes the heart of Bersin's job at CBP. Bersin has said he didn't know he's required by law to complete a form saying he verified that his household employees were eligible to work in the U.S. Members of the Senate Finance Committee say they are surprised by that, because Bersin was a U.S. attorney.

  • Discounts for buying with cash? The Senate has approved a measure to curtail so-called swipe fees that financial companies charge retailers for debit card transactions. The vote was 64 to 33. The measure would give the Federal Reserve the power to regulate swipe fees, and empower retailers to give discounts to customers using cash or debit cards. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called the debit card fees outrageous. Meanwhile, Senators also approve a bill to give the SEC oversight of bond rating agencies.

  • Lawmakers have their wings clipped. Leadership in the House is overhauling the rules for members and staff who travel overseas on official government business. The Wall Street Journal reports new rules forbid premium class seats on shorter flights, and they ban use of taxpayer funds to buy gifts. No longer will members be able to keep unspent cash. Use of military aircraft is still okay, though. The new rules were proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first big changes in 30 years.

  • Recovery.gov has moved into a public cloud, a move that could save more than $700,000 dollars over the next two fiscal years. The Recovery Board's main contractor, Smartronix, has chosen Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service. Leaders say the move will them meet their mission for accountability and transparency without concern for underlying data center and computer equipment.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency has a new weapon in the fight against radioactive contamination at a Los Angeles-area lab: Mules. The EPA will use four mules to carry high-tech scanning equipment to detect radiation on steep and rocky terrain at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. The EPA is conducting a survey of soil and water contamination at the lab near Simi Valley, where rocket engines were tested for years and a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor took place in 1959. About 500 acres of the lab will be scanned for gamma radiation. Results will be turned over to the state, which is overseeing a cleanup.

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