Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast - September 28th

Tuesday - 9/28/2010, 8:15am 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.

  • It's nearly October. Do you know where your agency funding is? Agencies are looking to the Hill to find out what will be in the Continuing Resolution expected to pass this week. In order to speed the CR through the Senate and the House, lawmakers want to streamline the bill and may ignore some additions proposed by the Administration. The CR would fund the government at current levels until early December with only a few exceptions, such as funding to maintain the number of flights protected by federal air marshals. Details of the measure were still being worked out yesterday in anticipation of a vote today that would limit debate.

  • The Department of Defense needs to work on its strategy for building its civilian workforce. The Government Accountability Office released an audit Monday that shows DoD has only partially met many of the requirements in their plan to improve its civilian acquisition and leadership workforces. These requirements are part of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. GAO says DoD needs to work on identifying funding for training civilian employees and analyzing specific workforce skill gaps. Defense also has yet to develop guidance to help program offices meet workforce planning needs.

  • A contract employee in the Energy Department was improperly hired into a senior position and as a result, may have been able to influence contracting decisions in favor of the contractor's former company. A memo from the Energy Department's IG describes the contract employee as being preselected for a senior position in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The contract employee knew about the position before the general public and prepared the position description and interview questions. Inspector General says the Energy Department should take prompt action to ensure that the issues raised are thoroughly reviewed and addressed. The case will be forwarded to the U.S. special counsel.

  • More than 1,500 space shuttle workers are facing layoffs this week. Lawmakers say they're going to try once more to pass a blueprint for the human space program...before they adjourn for elections. The plan for NASA would make the government a customer - not a provider - for crew transportation services to the International Space Station. But, Reuters reports, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon of Tennessee says that for the sake of the NASA workforce, the House should consider voting on the Senate bill so they can break the gridlock and move forward.

  • The Federal Acquisition Regulations Councils want to clarify a contracting rule and in doing so, could save the government billions. The proposed rule issued Monday would require the agency contracting officer to more strongly justify why they would evaluate a contract using Time and Materials and labor hours instead of considering a fixed price contract.

  • The small business jobs bill signed into law yesterday changes to the way your agency contracts with small businesses. The law places all small business set-aside programs on equal footing. Previous rulings from the GAO and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims had required agencies to give preference to firms in Historically Underutilized Business Zones.

  • The Inspector General at the Justice Department says FBI agents, including several supervisors, cheated on an important test. The open-book exam covers the bureau's policy for conducting surveillance on Americans. Inspector General Glenn Fine says the investigation started after allegations that agents improperly took the test together or had access to an answer sheet. He's calling on the FBI to discipline the agents, throw out the results and come up with a new test.

  • It appears President Obama might need a new chief of staff soon. Rahm Emmanuel has been eyeing a run for mayor of Chicago. A source close to Emmanuel says he could decide as early as Friday. Emanuel is still considering the impact that his decision would have on his family. Even President Obama acknowledges Emanuel would have to leave soon, should he choose to run, to set up his campaign for the mayoral race in 2011.

  • POM, the popular pomegranate fruit drink in the cute little fat bottle, is in trouble with the federal government. Federal regulators are suing the drink maker, in a wide effort by the government to clamp down on food ads that claim specific health benefits. The Federal Trade Commission's suit alleges that Pom's advertisements contain "false and unsubstantiated claims" about treating or preventing heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. The company calls the allegations "completely unwarranted" and accuses the government of violating POM's constitutional rights.