Tuesday morning federal headlines - Aug. 21, 2012

Tuesday - 8/21/2012, 7:56am EDT

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp 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.

  • Small federal contractors will soon have their own oasis. The General Services Administration is leaning toward splitting its next big multiple award IT contract into two parts. One of those parts would be set aside for small business. That's how GSA's program manager is thinking about One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services, or OASIS. In a blog post, Jim Gholini said both contract vehicles would share a ceiling of $48 billion. GSA said it expected to release a draft request for proposals in mid September. OASIS will eventually let contracting managers buy both equipment and professional services in one vehicle. (Federal News Radio)

  • President Barack Obama said he didn't believe Congress would manage to reach a budget deal before the November elections. That means deep cuts in the Defense Department budget under sequestration would occur. The president spent much of Monday talking to new outlets in areas with large military installations. He said he has made sure that service members won't lose pay or benefits under sequestration. Nor would veterans lose any VA benefits. But Obama said cuts could negatively affect military readiness. (Federal News Radio)

  • Federal employees filed fewer complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal 2011 than they did a year earlier. Among the nearly 17,000 complaints that were filed, about half concerned retaliation or reprisals. Non-sexual harrassment complaints came in second. EEOC is processing discrimination claims a little faster. It now takes an average of 346 days, down by two weeks. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Commerce Department is taking the plunge into cloud computing. First into the water will be the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In a request for proposals, NIST said it was leading a Commerce-wide effort to use cloud-based software tools. The agency is looking to buy them under the Software as a Service model. The RFP says Commerce wants to increase employee productivity while maintaining cybersecurity. It says bidders must offer cloud solutions that include email, calendars, instant messaging and desktop video conferencing. Commerce is looking to use standard commercial products. (Commerce Department)

  • The White House may have been built in 1800, but only yesterday it hosted the first state dinner just for kids. It was lunch actually, presided over by First Lady Michelle Obama. The bill of fare consisted of items dreamed up by chefs all under the age of 12. Fifty-four recipes were chosen out of more than 1,000 entries. Among the dishes: Kickin' Chicken Salad and Secret Service Super Salad. President Obama stopped by to say hello. (Federal News Radio)

  • NASA is flexing its muscles on Mars. Its Curiosity rover first obliterated a rock over the weekend just to show what it could do with its laser. Then it literally flexed its muscle yesterday by stretching its 7-foot-long robotic arm for the first time since launch. It uses that arm to wield a camera, a drill and other tools. The maneuver was part of a check-up to make sure the machine is in good working order. It passed with flying colors. NASA said everything worked as planned. The rover plans to make its first drive in the next few days. (NASA)