Friday Morning Federal Newscast - July 30th

Friday - 7/30/2010, 8:27am 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.

  • Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients will become the acting head of OMB. Politico is reporting that Zients will fill in, until the Senate confirms a permanent head. The president has nominated Jack Lew for that. The current OMB director Peter Orszag leaves the job today.

  • The U.S. Embassy in Paris says two of its employees are undergoing medical tests after handling a suspicious letter. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin says employees in the mailroom identified a "suspicious letter" and French authorities were summoned to examine it. He says "we have no indication that anyone is in danger or hurt" but that the two employees who handled the letter are being examined by medical authorities. A Paris police official says the two were feeling "unwell" and that the incident is being investigated.

  • Your agency is making progress with FOIA. The Justice Department says that all 94 agencies subject to FOIA have reported progress in implementing a presumption of openness, as requested by the president and attorney general. 95-percent of all Cabinet agencies have installed systems to receive FOIA requests by computer. Six-in-10 agencies have reduced backlogs or have no backlogs at all.

  • President Barack Obama's nominee to be chief of U.S. intelligence, James R. Clapper, was unanimously approved Thursday by the Senate Intelligence Committee. His nomination now goes to the full Senate. His final confirmation could still face delays from some Republican Senators unhappy with House Democrats' handling of an intelligence authorization bill.

  • Investigators have found evidence on computers used by private first class Bradley Manning linking him to the disclosure of classified Afghanistan war reports to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says the FBI has been enlisted in the investigation of how the 91,000 documents ended up on a web site. He said the Pentagon believes civilians might have aided Manning. Manning was charged in July with illegally sending military videos and secret State Department cables to WikiLeaks. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen said the founder of WikiLeaks, Australian Julian Assange, may have blood on his hands from soldiers killed as a result of the leaks.

  • After two tries, a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars, the FBI's case management system is finally coming to life. FBI Director Robert Mueller tells Senators the system, dubbed Sentinel, is being used by field agents starting this week. The heart of the system is in place, Muller said. NextGov reports, Mueller couldn't give a precise timeline for full national rollout of Sentinel, but he expected it to be this fall. The system isn't cheap. The latest FBI IG report pegged it at $450 million. In March, the FBI forced contractor Lockheed Martin to fix serious flaws in Sentinel.

  • A new bill would provide $781 million dollars for border security. Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl introduced the measure yesterday - aimed at controlling drug smuggling, trafficking, and illegal migrations into the U.S. from Mexico. The Phoenix Business Journal reports the plan calls for 1,200 new Border Patrol Agents to be deployed in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico. It would also pay for local police to help beef up patrols. Drones and communications systems would also be funded under the legislation. The Arizona Republican senators pushed the security plan as protests and court battles hit Phoenix over Arizona's immigration law.

  • A new Army report finds that more soldiers died at their own hands last year than in combat. The study says more than 200 soldiers committed suicide. In addition more than 140 died after engaging in high-risk behavior, like using illegal drugs or drinking and driving. The Army's Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli says that leadership has created a culture of complacency that allows risky practices.

  • The government might be big and incompetent or evil. But civil servants are efficient, smart and, usually, darn good looking. At least, that's how things are portrayed in the movies, according to two academics. GovExec reports political science professors Michelle Pautz of the University of Dayton and Laura Roselle from Elon University studied how Hollywood treats the federal government. They used the top 10 grossing movies from 1992 to 2005. They found that six in 10 movies portrayed the government itelf negatively. But individuals got more favorable treatment. Pautz said movie versions of civil servants are nothing like the stereotype, which she described as -- and these are the professor's words -- the person with very thick glasses and pocket protector, the nerdy civil servant who is easy to berate because he or she is not capable and is counting down the hours until they can punch out.