Friday Morning Federal Newscast - Nov. 12th

Friday - 11/12/2010, 8:56am EST

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 Obama administration wants to push the federal government deep into regulation of privacy on the Internet. It it about to unveil a plan giving new powers to the Commerce Department. The administration will also propose legislation to protect personally identifiable information. The Wall Street Journal reports, the White House has already stood up a special task force to write Internet policy. The panel is chaired by Cameron Kerry, the Commerce general counsel and brother of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. The administration is said to be concerned with the increasingly important role of the Internet in people's daily lives.

  • How would you and your out of town guests feel about paying to get into the Smithsonian and helping cut $225 million from the deficit?? Among the deficit commission's recommendations this week to cut down federal spending was to cut that much from the funding for the Smithsonian Institution. The leaders of the president's bipartisan deficit reduction commission suggest $7.50 per visitor. The same section suggests $75 million in cuts to the National Park Service and suggests a slight increase in visitor fees.

  • The Veterans Day holiday has highlighted a problem that Veterans Affairs continues to tackle. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki says the growing backlog of disability claims is one of the toughest problems he's faced during his two years as VA Secretary. USA Today reports Shinseki used Veterans Day to discuss the problem, saying that it might not be solvable, but that he's going to find out. Shinseki is pushing for full automation of disability claims to speed up the process and reduce the hundreds of thousands of veteran requests that have been in limbo for more than five months.

  • Purple has gone black. Purple is a five year old supercomputer, that, when new, was one of the fastest on earth. Now it is obsolete, so the Energy Department has pulled the plug. NextGov reports, Purple has been used by the National Nuclear Security Administration for simulating the performance of nuclear weapons. IBM built the machine, for which Energy paid $230 million. The machine was part of a 1996 initiative to create simulations capable of replacing underground nuclear bomb testing. But now Energy needs Purple's floor space and personnel for newer, shinier and faster supercomputers.

  • The Air Force is renewing its push to centralize purchasing and get more leverage out of its buying power. GovExec reports, the Enterprise Sourcing Group has been operating for a month. The goal is to save $2.3 billion dollars over the next five years. The group will concentrate on more careful buying of bulk commodities used across the Air Force. The Enterprise Sourcing Group replaces a 2007 initiative in which the Air Force established five regional contract centers. The new unit incorporates 400 contracting officers located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

  • The Postal Service has a new plan that could simplify your holiday card mailing, and make them some money too. USPS is considering allowing greeting card companies to print postage directly onto envelops that accompany cards. The Postal Service would track the companies participating in the program, and would make twenty-four cents for every envelope sold -- if the envelop is then mailed, the greeting card company would then recoup the remainder twenty four cents of postage. USPS hopes that consumers will turn to the increased convenience of pre-stamped envelops instead of sending e-greeting cards.

  • The State of Maryland has put out an e-welcome mat to thousands of prospective BRAC employees and contractors moving into the region. The state launched a Base Realignment And Closure-centric blog, named BRAC@U, as it prepares for an expected addition of 30,000 military and civilian jobs by September, 15, 2011. The blog is intended to serve as a quick way to inform the community about how the state is preparing for the upcoming changes.

More news links

Thrift Savings Plan -- A Great Option for Federal Government Employees, Not Military Members (MotleyFool)

Deficit hawks suggest admission fee at Smithsonian

While You Were Out: Want to know what you missed while you were off for Veterans Day? Take a look at the stories Federal News Radio has been working on.