Tuesday Morning Newscast - October 12

Tuesday - 10/12/2010, 8:00am 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.

  • The Office of Management and Budget has finished counting the number of federal data centers. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra says the government runs just under 2,100 of them. The Washington Post reports that number covers owned and leased centers larger than 500 square feet. The Defense Department boasts the highest number at 772. The Office of Personnel management has the fewest: just one. Kundra says OMB is now setting targets to reduce the number of data centers, as part of the 2012 budget process.

  • NASA has been set upon a new path. President Obama has signed a new authorization act that essentially ends the Constellation program, but also eases the transition for those who will lose their jobs once the space shuttle is retired. This new vision allows for development of a heavy-lift rocket and a new crew capsule that could take humans to asteroids and perhaps later on to Mars. NASA will also take a greater role in studying the Earth and developing new technologies to monitor climate change. It will require a separate act by Congress to approve the additional $11 billion to fund the new blueprint.

  • A small electrical fire has closed the Department of Agriculture's Plant and Health Inspection Service center in Riverdale, Maryland. USDA says employees from the center should stay home and telework. If you don't have the equipment to work remotely, you can take administrative leave for the day. Officials say the fire damaged telecommunications equipment. They're working on cleanup today.

  • December 8th is the sentencing date for a former Fannie Mae programmer recently convicted of planting hidden software code designed to wipe out the company's data. Rajendrasing Makwana could face 10 years in prison. Search-security.com reports the Montgomery County resident worked as a contract UNIX engineer at Fannie Mae's office in Urbana, Maryland until he was fired in 2008. Five days later a staff engineer discovered a malicious script embedded in a routine computer program. Investigators found that Makwana had installed the malware the day he was fired.

  • Future springtimes in the United States could be a little less sweet, thanks to global warming. Research by the Forest Service and Cornell University show that changes in climate are already affecting sugar maple trees in the Northeastern U.S. And that could eventually lower maple syrup production. Syrup is made by distilling sugar maple sap that runs in early spring when nights are near freezing and days are warm. But the danger is a ways off. Researchers said syrup won't decrease until the end of the next century. And, production will move further north.

  • Federal contractor Agilex has been named the fastest growing company in the Washington region. Washington Business Journal, which publishes the annual list, reported that Agilex grew 372 percent last year. Founded in 2007, Agilex is still small, with $38 million in annual sales. The employee-owned company sells technology and management services to federal agencies. It lists the Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments among its customers. Its chief operating officer, Jay Nussbaum, is a long-time federal contracting executive.

  • Google is among the potential financial partners in a $5 billion electrical transmission line along the Atlantic coast to support future offshore wind farms. The New York Times reports Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, called it the most interesting idea he's seen yet. The 350-mile line would be mostly owned by Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy. The project was first proposed by the Maryland company, Trans-Elect. It likely faces years of bureaucratic and engineering delays.

More news links

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Nobel Prize may not help Obama's Fed nominee

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** He served as the commandant of the Coast Guard - and then was tapped to lead the clean up from the Gulf oil spill. We'll talk to Adm. Thad Allen about lessons learned from a distinguished government career.

** And imagine if there was a way to improve transparency -- at almost no cost. The Recovery Board has an idea. We'll talk with Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Board

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