Countdown: Budget battle, TSA union rights, SBA whistleblower retaliation

Friday - 2/11/2011, 4:14pm EST

Federal News Countdown

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Today's guests are:
- Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio
- Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief, Government Executive

Jason Miller's stories
#3 House GOP targets more programs for deeper budget cuts
From Federal News Radio:

Republican leaders in the House are calling for even deeper budgets cuts by putting forward a plan that cuts about $60 billion to hundreds of federal programs for the seven months remaining in the current fiscal year. The new cuts could derail efforts by House Speaker John Boehner to avoid a confrontation with the White House that could cause a government shutdown.

#2 Investigative Series: Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA
From Federal News Radio:

Something is going on at the Small Business Administration. Federal News Radio has heard accusations of whistleblower retaliation, turkey-farming, hostile work environments, and widespread morale problems. The Office of Special Counsel investigated. Meanwhile, SBA says it is trying to root out waste, fraud, and abuse.

#1 GSA tries slamming through FAR fixes
From Federal News Radio:

Imagine being locked in a room and not leaving until the Federal Acquisition Regulation is easier to understand and use. The GSA tried that
Tom Shoop's stories
#3 Mismanagement, cost and schedule problems plague immigration system upgrade
From Next Gov:
A Homeland Security Department program that was supposed to automate the processing of immigration papers still has not launched, after the agency responsible failed to complete a required pilot test and then continued to spend four years and more than $600 million to build the system.

Since 2007, DHS' U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with contractor IBM Corp., has been planning to transition from a paper-based to a computerized system for managing applications for benefits, including visas. The nonpartisan Brookings Institution in January recommended digitizing visa processing to help defuse the heated battle over immigration by reducing errors and delays that prevent students and workers from contributing to the nation's economy.

USCIS maintains the project, known as Transformation, is moving forward.

#2 TSA boss says he'd fire security officers who strike
From Washington Post:

Transportation Security Administration boss John Pistole said Thursday that he would fire any workers who strike or purposely slow their work over disagreements with the agency's labor policies, noting that neither option is legally allowed anyway.

"I won't allow anything that would adversely affect security," Pistole said Thursday at a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on TSA matters. Republicans grilled him on the specifics of his decision last week to permit limited collective bargaining rights for TSA workers on issues not related to national security.

#1 Tea partier wants to scrap Energy Department
From Government Executive:

As this year's stormy federal budget battle kicks off, the Energy Department is becoming a political football.

For tea party Republicans with a bloodlust for slashing government spending, Energy is a top target. In January, GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a bill to slash $500 billion in government spending -- in part by axing the Energy Department.

For the White House, new energy spending represents a cornerstone of President Obama's "competitiveness" agenda. In his January 25 State of the Union address, Obama proposed tripling DOE's current spending on clean-energy research programs.