Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast - August 18th

Wednesday - 8/18/2010, 8:31am 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.

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Republican in a Democratic administration, found a fellow GOPer to put in charge of his big cost cutting program for the Pentagon. Gates tapped Robert Rangel, a former Republican staff director on the House Armed Services Committee. He's been serving as a special assistant to Gates. According to a memo obtained by the AP, Rangel will lead a task force focusing on paring contractor spending, cutting generals and civilian executives, and closing the Joint Forces Command.

  • USAjobs.gov is making changes that could help your agency with hiring. GovExec reports that beginning on September 1st, all job applications on the site will give candidates the option to submit details on their ethnicity, race and sex. OPM says that agencies cannot make individual decisions about applicants based on the information. But they can use it to find out whether barriers exist that might exclude certain groups.

  • Two former employees of the District of Columbia's Office of Chief Technology Officer have been sentenced to prison terms for their roles in a kickback scheme they participated in there. The New York Times reports Yusuf Acar, the former acting chief security officer in the CTO's office, was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Farrukh Awan, a former contract employee there, was sentenced to 14 months in prison. The two employees admitted to steering work to Advanced Integrated Technologies, an IT services and outsourcing firm, in exchange for more than a half million dollars in bribes. The case made headlines when the FBI raided the CTO's office in March of 2009, because the raid came about a week after the previous CTO, Vivek Kundra, was appointed by President Obama to be CIO for the federal government. He was not a target of the DOJ's investigation.

  • Honchos at the Justice Department want the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to play nice. Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler has drawn a line in the sandbox. His action follows an inspector general audit of a nagging turf war between the two agencies. Under Grindler's new guidelines, the FBI will lead investigations of explosives related to terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. ATF will cover everything else. The two must develop a detailed plan to consolidate their training programs. And, effective immediately, the FBI has to add its explosives information to ATF's database.

  • The Interior Department is cracking down on offshore drilling while checking its compliance with the law. GovExec reports the department will launch a thourough review of how it implements the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act. At the same time, it'll restrict the use of exemptions that allow oil and gas companies to avoid environmental assessments before they start drilling. The Deepwater Horizon rig was under one of those exemptions before it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Bechtel and Lockheed Martin are joining forces on the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense project. The San Francisco Business Journal reports that Bechtel is one of a dozen businesses brought on board to do some of the work to prepare the bid. Lockheed is already working with Raytheon, Alaska Aerospace and NANA Development on the project. The project is designed to shoot down incoming missiles using interceptors launched from sites in Alaska and California. The Missile Defense Agency will request final proposals for the project this year and award the contract next year.

  • Despite the precarious financial condition of the federally backed mortgage companies, there is still a role for the federal government in the mortgage market. That, from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He spoke yesterday at a White-House sponsored conference on the future of the housing market. Hs cited a full retreat by the private sector as proof of the need for some government involvement, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Obama administration has promised a plan for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae by January. Much of the debate centers on the popular A, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Often rates are too low to attract private investors.

  • The Treasury Department launches a Web site to teach kids about money and debt. It's called TreasuryDirect Kids and it's run by the Bureau of Public Debt. Some of the offerings include information on savings bonds and an introduction to debt in America. The Bureau says they're targeting students in grades 5 thru 7.