Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast - June 8th

Tuesday - 6/8/2010, 8:35am 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.

  • Seven agencies will test bargaining with unionized employees over issues that have never been bargained before. The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations has given the agencies the green light to develop plans for pilot programs expanding union bargaining to issues such as the number and qualifications of employees assigned to a particular project, the technology involved and the methods of work. Once approved, the tests will have to be completed by November. Participating agencies include the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Labor and Treasury.

  • A new face is coming to the Census Bureau, and it belongs to a statistician. Director Robert Groves has named Roderick Little, a biostatistician from the University of Michigan, to become associate director for statistical methodology at the Bureau. Little will begin the new job in September. Little's main tasks will be improving the quality of census data and developing strategies to boost citizen participation in government surveys. Low survey buy-in has ballooned the costs of conducting the decennial census, which will reach $15 billion this year.

  • You've got to follow best practices if you really want to "go green." The Treasury Department's Inspector General says that as much as a third of the energy used in the IRS' data centers is being wasted because they're not following industry best practices. Federal Times reports that the energy savings could total more than $3 million dollars over four years - even more if they took similar measures at their nine other campuses. The IRS has agreed to convene a working group to study energy efficiency at all its data centers.

  • Let the oil drilling start over again -- soon. That's the word from the Obama administration, which says it will speed up issuance of new rules for offshore oil and drilling. After the Gulf of Mexico spill, the administration had placed a moratorium on shallow water exploration. But arising anger over jobs and income losses from the moratorium are forcing the administration to speed up the new rules, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • The Coast Guard is looking for new ideas on how to clean up the Gulf of Mexico. Its Research and Development Center is asking companies, nonprofits, academics and federal laboratories to submit white papers on tracking oil, shutting the wellhead, new response technologies, damage assessments and restoration of areas damaged by oil. NextGov reports, proposals will be accepted for a year and should include cost estimates.

  • The Transportation Security Administration says full-body scans are about to become routine for passengers at BWI Airport. There are four machines at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport that scan passengers using advanced imaging technology. TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches says starting today, the machines will become the primary method of screening passengers at the security checkpoints that have them.

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving medical records from its old system to a brand-new one. Engineering Services Network, Inc. has won a contract from the VA worth nearly $11 million dollars to help them move the records and keep them private. The Washington Business Journal reports ESN will provide information technology solutions as part of the VA's HIPPA compliance by upgrading its health information systems. ESN is a service-disabled, veteran-owned contractor.

  • Some good news from the Federal Housing Administration. The government agency says the rate of foreclosures are starting to slow down. The Wall Street Journal reports home mortgages insured by FHA are falling into delinquency at a slower rate than they have in the past. If this keeps up, it could help the government agency avoid a taxpayer bailout. In April, nearly 8.5% of loans backed by the agency were 90 days or more past due. While that was still higher than a year earlier, April marked the third consecutive month in which delinquencies declined.

  • More than a year after the CIA's inspector general stepped down, frustrated members of Congress are urging the White House to fill the internal watchdog position that was central in uncovering abuses inside the spy agency. Several possible candidates have fallen by the wayside despite assurances from the Obama administration that a nominee will be chosen soon.