Thursday morning federal headlines - Jan. 12, 2012

Thursday - 1/12/2012, 8:30am EST

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive host Tom Temin discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The Air Force has finished drawing up its plans to draw down its civilian workforce in 2012. The service says it needs to eliminate another 4,500 jobs. But those cuts will be the last batch of reductions it will need to make this year. The Air Force hopes to make the reductions with a combination of buyouts and early retirement offerings and avoid involuntary reductions in force. Like the rest of the Defense Department, the Air Force is under orders to keep its civilian workforce at fiscal year 2010 levels. Applications for voluntary early retirement and voluntary early separation are due by Feb. 3. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Federal Employee Health Benefits Program is preparing to welcome employees at hundreds of Indian tribes into the system. It will be the first time the Office of Personnel Management opens the insurance program to people with no connection to the federal government. The move could add up to 350,000 people to FEHB. Tribes have urged the government to open the federal employee coverage program to their workers for years. The change was finally mandated two years ago by the Affordable Care Act. Since then, OPM has been working through a complex logistical web involving hundreds of tribes, each with their own autonomous government. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Census Bureau has upgraded its American FactFinder Database. It's finished migrating data sets from it's legacy system into a one-stop repository of statistical information. Visitors can now navigate between 40,000 tables, 1,500 population groups and tribes, 80,000 businesses and industries, and 12 million geographies for each decennial census. The U.S. Census Bureau's statistics and information search engine was introduced one year ago. Now users don't need to navigate between two web tools to find data on topics like income, poverty, education and housing. (Census Bureau)

  • Officials at the Defense Information Systems Agency took time out for a change in command ceremony. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr. took over the helm. He replaces Army Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett. Pollett is retiring after 37 years in the military. He took over DISA in 2008 and oversaw the agency's move to new facilities at Fort Meade, Md. DISA established several cloud computing services during Pollett's tenure. Hawkins worked at DISA earlier. He returns from the Pentagon, where he's been the deputy C-4 director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DISA)

  • With so many agencies pursuing mobile computing, the White House wants to pull it all together into a government-wide strategy. Federal CIO Steven Van Roekel has launched an online forum to gather ideas. The National Dialogue on the Federal Mobility Strategy will be open for comments until Jan. 20. Anyone can offer an idea or rate an idea already posted. Van Roekel says one goal of the strategy is to boost federal worker productivity by liberating you from ineffective 20th century work practices. He also hopes to devise a governance strategy for federal mobility. (Mobility Strategy Forum)

  • The Justice Department handed out awards to three dozen of its workers. But it couldn't say why they won them. That's because the honored employees did outstanding work in secret national security projects. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco told the gathering she was sorry she couldn't say more about the awards. Monaco heads the National Security Division at Justice. It employs 340 people and has a budget of $88 million. Among the awardees was attorney Shelly Goldstone. He won for what Monaco said were several highly sensitive, fast-paced espionage investigations involving issues of utmost importance to U.S. national security. (Federal News Radio)

  • A high ranking general has singled out military logisticians for their outstanding work in two long wars. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brooks Bash is director of logistics for the Joint Staff. He calls military logisticians the unsung heroes of 21st century wars. Bash cited Pakistan's recent closure of its border gates to Afghanistan. It followed a friendly fire incident in which coalition troops killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. To keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan supplied, the logistics people developed a Northern Distribution Network. It connects Baltic and Caspian Sea ports with Afghanistan through Russia and the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Bash said, no other country in the world can do what the U.S. is doing logistically. (JCS)