My experts to count down the most important Federal news stories of the week: —Alan Balutis, Director of the Global Public Sector Practice in the Internet Business Solutions Group at Cisco Systems —Joanne Connelly, Founder, President and CEO of ConnellyWorks
“Last week, the Department of the Army accepted the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s pro bono offer to provide assistance in the assessment of the information technology requirements to rectify the disastrous state of the records at Arlington National Cemetery. This effort stems from an Army investigation earlier this year that found the Cemetery’s recordkeeping in shambles, burial records on index cards, improperly marked graves and serious difficulties in accurately locating the graves in the cemetery. Despite spending more than $5 million on a program to digitize burial records, all these issues persisted.”
“The nation’s largest federal worker union is taking to the airwaves to defend rank and file federal workers against growing anti-government sentiments.
“The American Federation of Government Employees plans to spend about $200,000 to air a 60-second radio ad in more than 30 markets, including Washington and several Southern cities, according to a spokeswoman.
“The ad stars AFGE President John Gage and workers from the Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration, telling listeners to ‘trust me’ as they carry out their work.”
“The duo, who spoke to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, credited an aggressive advertising campaign built around the census and strong management for the savings. The mail-back response rate for the 2010 census was 72 percent and reduced the need for more expensive door-to-door enumerators, Locke said.
“The bureau spent $172 million on advertising, $32 million more than officials had budgeted, said Steve Jost, Census’ associate director of communications, during a background briefing for reporters on Monday. The bureau targeted advertising to areas with low response rates during the spring.”
“The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency today held a ceremony for its new director, Letitia Long, whom officials say is the first woman to lead a major U.S. intelligence agency.
“‘We are witnessing history with Tish’s ascension as the first woman to serve as director of a major intelligence agency,’ said James Clapper, who was confirmed as director of national intelligence on Aug. 5, in an announcement from NGA. An NGA spokeswoman acknowledged that there had been female heads of small agencies such as the intelligence arm of the State Department, according to the Associated Press.
“NGA provides combat support to the Defense Department with geospatial intelligence that involves satellite or airborne images combined with other intelligence and geospatial information such as maps and charts. As head of NGA, Long will be the DNI’s principal adviser and intelligence agencies’ functional manager for geospatial intelligence.
“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that the Pentagon will cut thousands of jobs, including a substantial chunk of its private contractors and a major military command based in Norfolk, as part of an ongoing effort to streamline its operations and to stave off political pressure to slash defense spending in the years ahead.
“Gates said he will recommend that President Obama dismantle the U.S. Joint Forces Command, which employs about 2,800 military and civilian personnel as well as 3,300 contractors, most of them in southeastern Virginia. He also said he will terminate two other Pentagon agencies, impose a 10 percent cut in intelligence advisory contracts and slim down what he called a ‘top-heavy hierarchy’ by thinning the ranks of admirals and generals by at least 50 positions.
“The reduction in funding for contract employees — by 10 percent annually over three years — excludes those in war zones.
“Although the moves will save an unspecified amount of money, defense officials characterized them as a political preemptive strike to fend off growing sentiment elsewhere in Washington to tackle the federal government’s soaring deficits by making deep cuts in military spending. The Obama administration has exempted national security from its budget reductions, but Gates said he fears that Congress might not be able to resist for long.”
“Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday announced sweeping cuts and a significant shift in priorities for next year’s defense budget, with more money for service members and federal employees but less for some major defense contractors.
“Calling his plan a ‘reform budget,’ Gates said he would eliminate the $11 billion VH-71 Presidential Helicopter program, end production of the F-22 Raptor at 187 aircraft, negotiate less expansive ways to build three DDG-1000 destroyers and drop the $87 billion vehicle portion of the Army’s Future Combat Systems program.
“‘I decided I would not take the political issues associated with any of these projects into account,’ he said. ‘I decided I would just do what’s right for this country.’
“And while other systems saw large cuts, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will see an increase of $4.4 billion to buy 513 aircraft over the next five years.
“Gates also detailed moves designed to strengthen personnel programs and ‘lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.'”