Thursday Morning Federal Newscast - December 16th

Thursday - 12/16/2010, 7:31am 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.

  • A possible speed bump is reportedly erupting in the road to fund your agency after Saturday. A federal government shutdown is still a possibility according to unnamed Senate sources in the Federal Times. Here's how it could happen. Although the House has approved a full-year continuing resolution, the Senate takes up debate today on an omnibus 2011 funding bill. If Senate Republicans demand a reading of the 2,000-page bill, that could take from Friday to Sunday. The current CR expires 12:00 a.m. Sunday. To avoid a shutdown, the Senate will have to pass a short term CR in the next three days.

  • The Office of Personnel Management is changing the definition of the operating status when there's a natural - or other - event that forces a change to the government schedule. That definition includes unscheduled telework days, for employees with telework agreements. OPM Director John Berry has also re-committed to making closure decisions by 4 a.m. on days when weather may be a factor.

  • The $230 monthly transit benefit for employees who use public transportation to get to and from work has found new life in that tax package passed by the Senate. The $858 billion package now goes to the House for an expected vote today. Without the Senate's passage of the package, the transit benefit would have reverted to $120 month in January.

  • The Senate Appropriations Committee is giving Veterans Affairs less than the department wanted. It approved a 2011 IT budget of just under $3.2 billion. That's $144 million less than the administration wanted. The House full-year continuing resolution includes the same amount. NextGov reports, the IT budget comes with strings attached. VA must give Congress detailed reports about each project before it can spend the money.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton unveils a sweeping reorganization plan for the State Department. Her goal is to improve civilian diplomacy and development. The plan calls for hiring more than 5,000 new employees between State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. It would also reduce the government's reliance on overseas contractors. Clinton tells a department town meeting, she wants State to shoulder more of the foreign policy work now being done by the military.

  • Acquisition pros in government are getting a little help from SAM: the Service Acquisition Mall. That's a new online tool from the Defense Acquisition University. It's designed to promote collaboration among all levels of government. The platform provides free templates and other resources. And the university plans to add a Turbo Tax-like tool for drafting acquisition documents.

  • Customs and Border Protection is looking for a little elbow room - about 226,000 square feet in D.C. The General Services Administration is soliciting bidders for two new leases for Customs. They need 129,000 square feet for the Office of Finance and 97,000 square feet for the Office of Trade. The Washington Business Journal says that the Office of Finance must be able to occupy the new space by November of next year. The Office of Trade has to be moved in by October. That office currently works out of a space controlled by the U.S. Mint. That agreement expires next year, and the Mint has already said that Customs will have to vacate. Both new leases have ten year terms. Each agency is looking for office space in downtown, NoMa, Southwest Waterfront and Parkside - which is east of the Anacostia River.

  • Some TSA workers offer pat downs and bag searches. But at LAX, they're offering a little entertainment, too. USA Today reports that some transportation security workers at Los Angeles Airport have formed a group called The LAX TSA Choir. They're made up of 17 singers and musicians, all of them officers of TSA. They've been surprising passengers by breaking into song at security checkpoints. They practice and perform during their time off. Passengers seem to like it, calling it uplifting, and adding some lightheartedness to the drudgery of going through the security checkpoint. There is one other choir in the country made up entirely of TSA workers- in Houston.