Tuesday Afternoon Federal Newscast

Guards hired by the State Department to protect diplomats and staff at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan live and work in a “Lord of the Flies” enviro...

Guards hired by the State Department to protect diplomats and staff at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan live and work in a “Lord of the Flies” environment in which they’re subjected to hazing and other inappropriate behavior by supervisors. That’s according to the Project on Government Oversight. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the watchdog group contends the situation has led to a breakdown in morale and leadership, and has compromised security at the embassy in Kabul. The group is urging Clinton to launch an investigation of the contract with ArmorGroup North America.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants better training and more sophisticated equipment for medical helicopters. The NTSB board approved recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration to require operators of helicopters flown for emergency medical services to, among other things, install automatic pilots, terrain awareness monitors and night-vision systems. The board also agreed to develop recommendations for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide Medicare payments only to emergency helicopter operators who pass safety audits.

More than 100 State Department locations worldwide will receive telecommunications support from AT&T. Under an eight-year, $45 million deal signed in May, but only announced today, State hired AT&T to provide managed services including voice and Internet Protocol telephone service, private line services and other related support. The department made the award under the Networx Universal contract. Along with AT&T, State hired Qwest in June to provide Web hosting and content distribution services under Networx Enterprise.

The Labor Department

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A national safety group says text messaging, Twitter and social networking Web sites could help families stay in touch in the wake of a disaster. The Safe America Foundation announced today a national campaign to train families about alternate ways of staying in touch if traditional communication methods are not working. More than 200,000 people are expected to participate in drills of alternative emergency communication tools starting Friday, Sept. 11th and lasting through mid-October.

More News Links

Many Recovery Act contracts fall into high-risk category (GovExec)

Civilian agency contract spending continues to climb (GovExec)

Clark to Build Coast Guard Facility (Washington Post)

Administration has yet to make proposed security policy revisions public (NextGov)

Applications for broadband grants under the stimulus law far outstrip available funds (FCW)

IG faults VA for mismanagement of IT project (FCW)

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