This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.
John Kasianowicz — project leader, NIST
Soon, it may be cheap and easy for your doctor to test your DNA for potential illnesses. That’s thanks to a team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in association with Columbia University. Together they’ve developed a molecular ticker-tape reader that could revolutionize early detection.
John Hutton — director of acquisition and sourcing management issues, GAO
The law says federal agencies are supposed to compile inventories of their service contracts. The government spends more than $160 billion a year on them. But an audit by the Government Accountability Office found that few agencies meet the requirements of the law.
Joe Petrillo — procurement attorney at Petrillo and Powell
An Alaska Native company is in hot water after it passed 98 percent of its small- business contract to a mega corporation. That’s according to a new inspector general’s report from the Small Business Administration.
Dr. Harry Lambright — professor of public administration, Syracuse University
Amid two wars, deficits, a recession and congressional gridlock, many federal managers would choose to sit tight and maintain the status quo. But not former defense secretary Robert Gates or former National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins. Harry Lambright, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University, has studied both men’s leadership styles and the steps they took to force their organizations to adopt to new realities.
David Hall-Matthews — managing director, Publish What You Fund
Federal agencies have made it easier for the public to track where they spend foreign aid. That’s the good news. But a British nonprofit that ranks aid and development agencies worldwide says there’s plenty of room for improvement. Publish What You Fund gives the Millenium Challenge Corporation high marks. It ranks the State Department and the Pentagon as “poor.”
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Lockheed Martin Corporation is reorganizing and shedding 200 jobs. By year-end, the company will split its Electronic Systems Business into two units. The Missiles and Fire Control business will be headed by Rick Edwards. The Mission Systems and Training business will be headed by Dale Bennett. Lockheed says the changes will save $50 million a year by reducing executive ranks of the Electronic Systems Division. Missiles and Fire Control is to be headquartered in Dallas with 16,000 employees. Mission Systems and Training will be headquartered locally with 19,000 employees. Among its programs are the Aegis Combat System, Littoral Combat Ship and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter support.
The Pentagon struggles to meet small-business contracting goals year after year and that’s dragging down the rest of government. Officials said the continuing resolution had the single largest negative impact on small-business programs in fiscal 2011. The Defense Department missed the mark by $7.2 billion that year. DoD hands out two-thirds of the government’s contracts, but many of them are for big items like weapons systems. It’s hard for small companies to compete for those.
The military’s health insurer is trying to work around a German law that could prevent service members and their families from receiving their usual medicine. The new law blocks drug imports starting on Jan. 1. Officials said all medicine would have to come from within the European Union. That means changes to TRICARE’s mail-order pharmacy. The insurer estimated that the law would affect more than 2,000 of its prescriptions. It’s trying to get the word out to military families now to make sure they have a constant supply of the medicine they need. Army officials said members stationed in Germany should use German doctors and local pharmacies or go to military facilities that are aware of the issue until TRICARE establishes another system.
A privacy watchdog group is planning to challenge the Federal Trade Commission over a settlement with Google. The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained an FTC audit report about Google’s privacy practices under a Freedom of Information Act request. The report was heavily redacted, and EPIC plans to challenge the redactions. Google reached a privacy settlement with the FTC back in 2010. The most recent audit tells FTC how well Google has been complying. Under FTC rules, companies have the right to keep certain corporate information secret. The audit report in question was prepared for FTC by Price Waterhouse Coopers in June.
The National Science Foundation has awarded a second grant to Prince George’s Community College for cybersecurity education. The grants are worth $5 million each and are intended to last four years. The college runs the National CyberWatch Security Center. It has trained more than 5,000 students since it opened seven years ago. The Prince George’s program is part of a nationwide alliance of 95 colleges and universities to to promote cybersecurity training. It is also trying to influence the K-through-12 curriculum to get students engaged in cybersecurity early on.