The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear bill to improve management training for federal supervisors passed in committee Thursday, more than a year after it was first introduced. The 2009 Federal Supervisor Training Act would require that managers receive a round of interactive training within a year of promotion, and once every three years after. Management training would cover topics including conducting performance appraisals, personnel practices, and developing and discussing goals with employees. A similar bill was introduced in the House two weeks ago.
The full Senate will vote on the nomination of John Pistole to head the Transportation Security Administration. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee approved the FBI deputy director’s nomination by voice vote on Thursday. Last week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation also passed the Pistole nomination. No official word on when the full Senate will vote.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will ask Congress for hundreds of additional new positions to inspect oil and gas wells. The former Minerals Management Service needs to increase its offshore inspection staff by 330 people, he told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It now has 62 people to inspect 4,000 wells. GovExec reports, Salazar called the size of the current staff “woefully inadequate”. Salazar reorganized MMS into the three pieces: the Bureaus of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
BP has hired former FEMA director James Lee Witt to look into how the oil giant has responded to the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and to recommend improvements. Witt headed the Federal Emergency Management Administration during the Clinton administration.
OMB turns to public disclosure to curb erroneous expenses by federal agencies. PaymentAccuracy.gov launched on Thursday, and will list all improper payments for each agency quarterly, as well as targets for reducing and recovering wasted funds. At the top of the list is HHS with $66 millon in erroneous payments. The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would require agencies to recover an estimated $98 billion dollars lost to improper payments.
Hoping to avoid the switch to a five-day delivery schedule, postal unions have offered an alternative cost-cutting solution. The unions’ proposal is to eliminate mandatory retiree health benefit prepayments, which cost the postal service nearly $6 billion dollars a year. The potential switch to a five-day delivery schedule has gotten push-back from industry and union leaders during on-going joint House and Senate Congressional hearings on the proposed service cut.
The FCC’s proposal to regulate Internet access is having a mixed audience on Capitol Hill. The Wall Street Journal reports three commissioners were questioned by the Senate Commerce Committee about FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal to reverse a 2002 ruling in which the commission backed off Internet rules. The question of net neutrality fell on party lines, with Democrat Byron Dorgan calling regulation essential, and Republican David Vitter saying it would stifle innovation.
Coming soon to a VA hospital near you: Free wireless Internet access. The Veterans Affairs Department plans to install WiFi at its 153 hospitals, 134 nursing homes, and 50 rehab facilities, officials told the House Veterans Affairs Committee. NextGov reports, the wireless networks would give patients and their visitors online access. But the public networks would be kept totally separate from existing networks that support medical operations.
They’ve canceled one merger agreement and come up with a whole new one because of a Justice Department investigation. Chemring Group, which makes rockets, had agreed to buy Allied Defense Group, which makes munitions, for more than $59 million dollars. But the Justice Department probe of Allied’s operations delayed the deal. Now, The Washington Business Journal reports, Allied and Chemring have revised the agreement to nearly $60 million dollars for its two operating businesses, and some of their liabilities, instead of acquiring parent company Allied Defense which means Allied will be a standalone company to address the Justice Department investigation. That investigation is looking into dealings that Allied Defense has with foreign governments.
Emergent BioSolutions supplies anthrax vaccine to the U.S. government. Now, it apparently supplies BioThrax vaccine to governments of allied nations, too. The Washington Business Journal reports Emergent won’t identify which countries it sold BioThrax to, or how much vaccine it sold but will say the sales generated 2.3 million dollars in revenue. Meanwhile, Emergent continues its research on a vaccine to treat people already exposed to anthrax. The research is funded through development money from the government.
** How much has the acquisition workforce changed over the decades? The head of the Defense Acquisition University retires at the end of the month. In our exit interview, we’ll get some lessons learned from a career of public service.
** And imagine a building that runs on almost no energy. It’s not science fiction. You’ll meet the person behind it and he’ll share some of the secrets.