Friday Morning Federal Newscast – June 18th

Federal pay freeze proposal defeated, Critical tests to decide future of SBINet, Can Denver land a regional U.S. Patent Office?

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear rejected an attempt to freeze federal pay and the size of the government workforce. Government Executive reports the chamber on Thursday blocked an amendment by Republican Senator John Thune. The measure was aimed at paying for a jobs and tax bill, in part by freezing federal salaries and eliminating bonuses. It would have also held the number of federal workers at current levels.

  • How much privacy can you expect on your business cellphone? The Supreme Court has upheld the search of a police officer’s personal, sometimes sexually explicit, messages on a government-owned pager. They say the search did not violate his constitutional right to protection against unreasonable searches. The court unanimously reversed a federal appeals court ruling that sided with California SWAT team officer, Seargent Jeff Quon. Justice Anthony Kennedy says the officer could not assume “his messages were in all circumstances immune from scrutiny.” Federal News Radio’s DorobekInsider spoke with Jim Dempsey, the vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, for analysis.
  • Vice President Joe Biden and OMB Director Peter Orszag today will announce new initiatives aimed at cutting government waste. The White House says today’s event will also unveil a new piece of technology to help spot fraud. That tool has already been used by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and plans are to expand its use to the rest of government.
  • Homeland Security wants to fly more drone aircraft to patrol the Mexican border. Mark Borkoswki tells the House Homeland Security committee, DHS is still assessing the viability of its Secure Border Initiative project, a system of linked sensors and physical fencing. SBINet has been plagued with technical delays and cost overruns. Program officials think more aerial drones could help them monitor the border. GovExec reports, last month, the FAA granted approval for Customs and Border Protection to fly Predator B drones in an expanded area.
  • OSHA says their fines for serious violations are too low, so the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is boosting the fines, hoping to create a deterrent. The Business Journal of Milwaukee reports the average penalty for a serious violation has been about a thousand dollars. The new policy could boost that to between three-thousand and four-thousand dollars. A “serious violation” is one that would cause serious injury or death. OSHA would like to increase penalties more, but current law caps the limit. There is legislation in Congress that would allow them to increase penalties to $12,000 and $250,000 dollars, and adjust them for inflation in the future.
  • The federal agency that referees disputes between employees and their private sector bosses will need to reopen more than 500 decisions. The Supreme Court ruling that the 5-member National Labor Relations Board operated illegally when its membership fell to just two people. The high court, in a 5-to-4 decision, said the law does not allow the the board to operate while it is short-staffed because of political arguments.
  • Denver, Colorado, has its eye on the Patent office. The Denver Business Journal reports, a group in Denver has been working for years to persuade the Patent and Trademark Office to open a satellite location in their city. And now, attorney Thomas Franklin says, they’re hopeful a decision might be a few weeks away. PTO Director David Kappos told an audience at the Advanced Patent Law Institute in Alexandria that he hoped to have a satellite office “far away from D.C.” as a pilot program. Colorado leaders are hopeful a move would bring their state hundreds of patent examiner jobs, and several hundred more administrative and support jobs.
  • Police have arrested a postal worker in New York after he allegedly stabbed his female supervisor seven times. A TV affiliate for NBC in New York says the incident happened at the John F. Kennedy Airport mail processing facility. Police say 55-year old David Barnett, in a rage, stabbed the supervisor Doris Lloyd with scissors. A co-worker was able to stop the attack and protect the supervisor until authorities showed up. The supervisor is in a New York hospital and expected to survive.


    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    ** The Web: we’re going to talk to the person who invented the web! Tim Berners-Lee! And he is interested in helping YOU. We’ll talk to him about the creation of the Web and open data.

    ** And imagine biking across the country. We’ll talk to a government contractor who is doing just that to raise awareness for lung disease.

    Join Chris from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.

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