Thursday Morning Federal Newscast- July 8

Thursday - 7/8/2010, 8:51am 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The debate over federal pay heats up again. The right-leaning Heritage Foundation has released a report stating that, on average, federal employees earn much bigger salaries than their private sector counterparts. The study compared numbers from the Commerce and Labor Departments. It found that the average fed makes about $29 an hour; and in the private sector, about $18. The study admits, however, that the comparisons ignore the fact that different kinds of workers earn different wages. It recommends a new federal pay system to do away with the General Schedule.

  • The SAVE Awards are back for a second year, with no signs of a sophomore slump. The Securing Americans' Value and Efficiency Award invites federal employees on the frontlines to take a hard look around them and share their ideas and insight on how to save money and improve performance. NEW for 2010, federal employees are being asked to help rate the submissions from their fellow workers. Submissions will be accepted between today and July 22.

  • The Labor Department accuses the Postal Service of violating electrical work-safety rules. Labor has filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Among other things, the complaint says that postal leaders failed to protect workers from possible electrocution, even though they knew about the problems. At issue is equipment at 350 mail and distribution centers throughout the country.

  • Agencies that want to continue running their computer networks may be forced to install technology that blocks pornography. The war supplemental that passed in the House last week would also block funding for computer networks, unless those networks can also stop people from viewing, downloading and sharing porn. Adult material on government computers has been an ongoing problem for several agencies; in some cases employees spent HOURS viewing porn. The amendment now goes to the Senate for a vote.

  • The Obama administration has declared victory in its campaign against non-competitive contracts. A fact sheet from the Office of Management and Budget says that between 2000 and 2008, non-competitive contract awards shot up, from $73 billion to $173 billion. But so far in fiscal 2010, ten percent fewer dollars are going to such contracts, compared to the same period last year. The administration has also been pushing to cut use of cost reimbursement contracts. It says those have also dropped by 10 percent since the Obama team took over.

  • The General Services Administration launches a big procurement for satellite services. The contracts will be available to both civilian and defense agencies. GSA worked with the Defense Information Systems Agency to craft the request for proposals. Custom Satcom Solutions, or CS2, will be an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract likely to include multiple vendors. GSA estimates the program will generate $5 billion in sales over 10 years, according to NextGov

  • The long fight over the Pentagon's $35 billion tanker contract enters a new stage on Friday. The Hill is reporting that Boeing and EADS North America will submit bids to build a midair refueling tanker. The Air Force and Defense Department will pore over thousands of pages of technical and price data over the next four months to choose a victor. The two companies and their congressional supporters have waged a public relations and lobbying war for much of the last decade. Air Force officials said recently that the tanker contract will be awarded in mid-November, just days after the November 2 elections.

  • The Pentagon is boosting purchases of Russian-made helicopters. But they're not for use by the U.S. military. They're to help modernize the militaries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Wall Street Journal reports, the purchases come after the Obama administration lifted sanctions against Russia's arms exporting agency. The Russian copters are said to be rugged, reliable and easy to use. But some lawmakers have asked whether there is enough oversight of the procurements, and whether the Pentagon should be buying U.S.-made aircraft instead.

  • We told you it was going to happen! Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are off the New York Stock Exchange. Yesterday was their last day of trading. The Washington Business Journal reports Fannie and Freddie are now on the over-the-counter market. Fannie Mae first sold stock to the public in 1970. Freddie Mac began trading publicly in 1989. But last month, the Federal Housing Finance Authority ordered Fannie and Freddie to delist their shares after falling below minimum trading requirements.