The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Retirements of federal employees hit their lowest level in seven years. In fiscal 2009, a total of 43,649 permanent workers retired, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That’s 27 percent fewer than OPM predicted, and the lowest number since 2002, reports the FederalTimes.
The Senate approves a bill designed to expand telework in the federal government. The Telework Enhancement Act would create an assumption in agencies that employees are eligible to telework. It would also require agency leaders to hire a point person for managing programs for telecommuting and to make telework a part of emergency plans, and includes an amendment from Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) to expand an existing telework pilot program within the Patent and Trademark Office.
President Obama pushes for new authority to cancel spending items in appropriations bills. The president’s proposal, given to Congress on Monday, would let him submit funding recissions or cancellations after a spending measure has been passed. Congress would then need to vote on the president’s recommendations within a limited time window. Acting OMB Deputy Director Jeffrey Liebman says the idea is to eliminate unnecessary spending.
The U.S. Postal Service continues to look for ways to save money. So you might call their new contract with GridPoint an investment. The Washington Business Journal reports the nearly $29 million dollar contract could run as long as three years, and will help the Postal Service find ways to monitor their energy use, helping the agency lower its utility costs. The first year of the contract calls for GridPoint to install its systems in up to 750 post office locations.
President Obama yesterday nominated Army General Raymond T. Odierno, currently commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, to head U.S. Joint Forces Command. If confirmed, he will replace, Marine Gen. James N. Mattis. Joint Forces is located in Norfolk, Virginia and is comprised of more than a million soldiers and civilian people from all the armed services. Orierno, a 1976 West Point graduate, served for 15 months as commanding general of Multinational Corps, Iraq.
General Dynamics has landed a 146-million dollar contract for three years to wire the Army’s new Mark Center. The Washington Business Journal reports that the Information Technology infrastructure work will be part of the Army’s Washington Headquarters Service relocation. WHS is consolidating Washington area locations to the 16 acre Mark Center in Alexandria as part of the Base Closure and Reallignment Commission. Under the contract, General Dynamics will install networks, systems, equipment and cabling for voice, video and data, and will be responsible for moving users and their equipment to the new facility without interruption of operations.
There’s a new smallpox vaccine in town. And the federal government has already begun to boost its national stockpile. USAToday reports the new version of the smallpox vaccine is considered a safer alternative to the standard cowpox vaccines. The first shipments arrived in the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile last week. Randall Larsen of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Center says the current national stockpile contains 300 million doses of standard smallpox vaccine.
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander is no longer calling home. The space agency has suspended operations after repeated attempts to communicate with the lander failed. But this isn’t a loss for NASA. Phoenix completed its three-month mission after landing in May of 2008. Scientists say the spacecraft confirmed the presence of water ice under the Martian soil. And researchers continue to comb data sent back from the lander for clues about the red planet’s past.
People who walk by the front lawn of the White House can expect to see a mixture of construction crews, rigs and chain-link fencing for the next two years. The executive mansion has launched the first major upgrade to its utility systems in more than 40 years.
The U.S. Attorney’s office says a former FBI linguist has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for leaking classified documents to a blogger who posted the information online. Prosecutors say 39-year-old Shamai Kedem Leibowitz of Silver Spring, Md., admitted giving secret documents to the unidentified host of the website.
A spokesman for the defense contractor that operates a Navy-owned ballistics laboratory in West Virginia says two employees sustained minor injuries in an explosion. An Alliance Techsystems spokesman says the cause of yesterday’s explosion at the Alleghany Ballistics Laboratory is under investigation.
Bourbon and branch sippers, heads up: The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has fired off a letter of protest to members of the Kentucky congressional delegation, urging them to reject legislation backed by liquor wholesalers that would let distillers anywhere call their products bourdon. Under long-standing Treasury policy, only whiskey distilled in Kentucky and made of corn can be called bourbon.
** In the gov 2.0 world — government employees need to engage online. That is one of the key recommendations from Australia’s Gov 2.0 Task Force. We’ll talk to the person who led that task force. We’ll find out what gov 2.0 is down under… And tap some lessons learned.
** And the Management of Change conference finishes up today. What’s the buzz? We’ll talk to Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller.