Monday Morning Federal Newscast - Nov. 1st

Monday - 11/1/2010, 1:01pm 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.

  • Here's some new fuel for the public-private pay debate. Federal employees are paid an average of 24 percent less than their private sector counterparts, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That figure was presented to the Federal Salary Council last week. GovExec reports, the gap widened by two percentage points in 2010 versus 2009. The Council is made up of union leaders and federal managers. It makes annual pay recommendations to the President's Pay Agent. Meanwhile, the change in the Employment Cost Index was 1.6 percent in 2010. That figure could become the basis for the president's raise recommendation to be included in the 2012 budget proposal.

  • Donations are down, and costs are up, at many Combined Federal Campaigns. Nearly one in ten of the campaigns nationwide had excessive operating costs last year. Excessive is defined as 20 percent of revenues. Federal Times reports, the Office of Personnel Management has merged some campaigns, so they can share fixed costs. For example, each campaign is required to conduct an audit at a cost of $3,500. The Greater Utica Herkimer County CFC in upstate New York has the highest overhead, reaching 46 percent of the dollars pledged.

  • Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is calling for the IRS to return to use of private contractors for collecting back taxes. That follows a Government Accountability Office report stating the IRS' conducted a flawed study that became the basis for killing the practice. That study showed using federal employees would be more efficient than contractors at tax collection. Use of contractors ended in 2009 following bitter opposition from the National Treasury Employees Union. Federal Times reports, Grassley accuses the union of running of disinformation campaign. He says the unpaid tax backlog is growing, and the IRS needs contractors to help collect it. The IRS responds that its study was sound.

  • The FBI has awarded its largest-ever contract: worth $30 Billion. It's an eight-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity contract for IT procurement services. FCW reports that 46 companies won spots on it, including the recently reinstated GTSI company. That firm had been suspended from new government work, after accusations that it improperly received contracts that were intended for small businesses.

  • Raytheon has plans to deliver arms worth up to $4 billion to Saudi Arabia, reports Reuters. The defense contractor also is looking at more contracts with neighboring states Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Executive Vice President Thomas Culligan says that Raytheon is in talks with Saudi Arabia over an upgrade of Patriot missiles, adding several thousand jobs in the United States The United States said last month Saudi Arabia wants to spend as much as $60 billion on aircraft, helicopters and other arms, anticipating an escalation between the West and Iran over its nuclear plans.

  • Lockheed Martin executive Dan Crowley, who ran the F-35 fighter jet program for most of the past five years, is leaving the company to take a position with Raytheon. Crowley has been named president of Raytheon Network Centric Systems (NCS), effective today.

  • Federal authorities plan to deploy more than 400 observers and other personnel to places in 18 states to monitor polls during tomorrow's election. The Justice Department says the Civil Rights Division's effort is aimed at finding out whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

  • The Army will partner with Veterans Affairs to offer virtual mental health counseling. Army vice chief of staff General Peter Chiarelli says the service will allow VA mental health professionals to counsel soldiers using personal computers and video conferencing. Chiarelli, cited in NextGov, says he needs VA's help because the Army doesn't have enough of its own clinicians. VA has budgeted more than $160 million for telehealth in 2011.

  • Will federal employees have to take out their own trash to save money? Not yet, but it's happening at the state level already. The Wall Street Journal reports, 20,000 Texas state workers have started carrying their own trash and recycling to common bins. So are city workers in Phoenix. Turns out, one of the most labor-intensive janitorial chores is going office-to-office, or cube-to-cube, gathering trash. Texas officials hope to save $825,000 this year. That's two one-hundredths of one percent, of the state budget.