Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast - February 8th

Tuesday - 2/8/2011, 9:35am 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.

  • Maybe there won't be furloughs, after all. Republicans are expected to unveil details of their $32 billion dollar spending cut package this week. Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tells our sister station WTOP Radio that Congress can create a smaller bureaucracy without having to fire a lot of people. He says through attrition, simply by not hiring any more feds, the government can save another two or three billion dollars. Critics, mostly Democrats, say cutting back the federal workforce would mean weaker health and safety inspections and reductions in homeland security.

  • The SEC is joining the ranks of agencies claiming operations are squeezed by the budget impasse in Congress. SEC chairwoman Mary Shapiro tells a law group, the continuing resolution is keeping her agency from writing regulations required by last year's financial overhaul bill. National Journal reports the SEC is also straining under its existing workload. The Obama administration had requested a 10 percent budget increase for the SEC in FY 2011.

  • Bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration workers aren't sitting right with some senators. Republican Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduces an amendment to the FAA authorization bill. It would prevent collective bargaining at TSA. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma co-sign the amendment. Federal Times reports they've modified the amendment to give TSA workers more whistleblower protection. Collins calls the amendment a middle ground between collective bargaining and no employee rights. A TSA union election is scheduled for March 9.

  • A Congressionally-ordered report finds that many military bases receiving new personnel from base realignments are already suffering from what they call severe traffic impacts. The National Research Council's Transportation Research Board looked at six large bases affected by BRAC. The report finds the Defense Department generally fails to communicate with state and local officials about transportation improvements that need to be made. The report recommends emergency supplemental funding to help solve some of the problems.

  • The Department of Homeland Security has wrapped up its pilot review of nearly 100 service contracts to see what work should be insourced. They now plan on using the process to review all of its existing and future contracts. Federal Times reports, some jobs are already likely to be insourced because initial finding from DHS are now under review by the Office of Management and Budget. The contract review pilot project is expected to pave the way for similar evaluations of all of the department's more than 10,000 current service contracts - and future contracts - to determine whether they should be done in house.

  • It looks like the sentencing of Former Bush Administration official Scott Bloch has been delayed and that he may escape jail time. A judge said last week that Bloch had to spend at least one month in behind bars, but his lawyers passed a last minute motion to try to salvage a plea deal would keep him out of prison. Bloch is the former head of the Office of Special Counsel. He pled guilty to misdemeanor contempt of Congress for withholding information about having a government hard drive professionally wiped. The sentencing is rescheduled for March 10.

  • It is the first interagency plan for offshore wind energy. The departments of Interior and Energy are ready to provide $50 million for research and development to jump-start offshore wind energy projects in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey. The Baltimore Business Journal reports the government could begin leasing sites off the mid-Atlantic coast by the end of this year or early next. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu say the National Offshore Wind Strategy could power nearly three million households by 2020. But they have to overcome some serious hurdles -- like lack of site data, the high cost, and technical challenges.

  • Somebody has to take care of those Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, known as MRAPs. Defense Contractor Mantech has landed a $488 million contract to do just that. The deal requires Mantech to manage, monitor and sustain the MRAPs so they're ready for battle. It also means they'll have to take care of them when they're damaged in battle or when there are operational failures because of damage or just old age. Work will be performed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and at locations throughout the U.S..