Friday morning federal headlines - Sept. 30

Friday - 9/30/2011, 8:13am 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.

  • A nearly empty House of Representatives approved a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend. It passed with unanimous permission of the three lawmakers in attendance; the rest were away on recess. The Senate already passed a continuing resolution, which funds the government through Tuesday, so now the measure awaits President Obama's signature. House members will then vote on a second Senate measure to keep the government running through November 18. Yesterday's three members were Maryland Republican Andy Harris, who presided. Plus Texas Republican John Culberson and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen. (Federal News Radio)

  • A White House advisory group says it will launch a new website to boost communications with small business. BusinessUSA.gov will launch before the end of the year, said Ari Matusiak, the executive director of the White House Business Council. He described the site as a portal to connect small business with all the programs and resources the federal government offers them. He said the idea for the site came from a series of meetings the White House held with small business owners. An earlier site, Business.gov, was absorbed by the Small Business Administration's main web site. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Defense Intelligence Agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It received praise from no less than Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was briefly assigned to DIA when he was in the Army. National Intelligence director James Clapper said DIA's golden age, which began with 9/11, is happening now. Clapper said 9/11 transformed DIA into a worldwide enterprise, with agents deployed in war zones. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Homeland Security Department has hired CGI Federal to host DHS websites in the cloud. The three-year deal is worth $1.8 million. DHS will send several websites for remote hosting, including DHS.gov and FEMA.gov. The award is the first made under the GSA's governmentwide, infrastructure-as-a-service vehicle. CGI Federal competed with four other companies on that vehicle. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Interior Department plans to conduct new market research for cloud email services, with the goal of moving 18,000 email accounts to a cloud provider. Last year, Interior made an award to Microsoft and Softchoice. But that contract has been in limbo thanks to a protest by two losing bidders. Earlier this week, Google and Onix Networking agreed to drop their protest. Interior has not said yet whether it plans to void the Microsoft contract. (Federal News Radio)

  • Federal workers with deployed military spouses will get sweeter benefits. Starting October 30, they'll be able to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which will make it easier for them to take care of pressing family business. In amending policy under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Office of Personnel Management listed several reasons why a spouse might need extra time, including arranging child care or going to school meetings, preparing a will or making funeral arrangements. (Federal News Radio)

  • Cybersecurity attacks on utilities and other industries have tripled in one year. Homeland Security officials said the methods of cyber attack are also growing more sophisticated. Deputy Undersecretary Greg Shaffer, who gave reporters a tour of the Idaho National Laboratory, said it has responded to 342 calls for help so far this year, compared to 116 last year. The lab houses an emergency response team and a watch-and-warning center. It employs cyber experts who test systems for weaknesses and analyze samples of malware. (Federal News Radio)

  • NASA is releasing a mobile app to help its employees during an emergency. The program is meant to help NASA personnel plan and respond to any number of disasters, protect their families and be able to report back to work more quickly. GCN reports the app offers checklists for emergency kits and forms for contact information. It also has has a bright screen flashlight, a compass, disaster RSS feeds and an SOS signal. It's available for free on Apple's iTunes App store and is open for download to anyone. (GCN)

  • A former chief of the National Archives audio-visual holdings is being charged with stealing what he was supposed to be protecting, according to the Associated Press. Leslie Waffen has been formally charged with filching nearly 1,000 sound recordings from the archives over a decade. Federal agents raided his home earlier this year, recovering dozens of boxes full of Archives property. The Archives have been criticized by its inspector general and government auditors for lax security and failing to safeguard sensitive information. (AP)