Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 17th

OPM wants to settle the fed salary debate, House approves a bill to improve performance within agencies, Peck: Canceling federal leases possible

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear formula for comparing pay in the public and private sectors. Berry’s move comes after press accounts claiming that feds earn higher average salaries than their counterparts outside of government.

  • The House approves a bill to improve performance within agencies. The Government Efficiency, Effectiveness and Performance Improvement Act would force agencies to assess how well federal programs are meeting goals. It would also require measurable guidelines for making inefficient programs better. The bill now goes to the Senate.
  • The cash-strapped Postal Service may need to shell out billions of dollars to replace an aging fleet of delivery trucks. Most of the Long Life Vehicles, as they’re known, are nearing the end of their life cycles. An internal audit says it could cost more than $4 billion dollars to replace the fleet, and that it cost about $524 million to fix LLVs in fiscal year 2009. The Washington Post reports that Postal leaders are working to on a plan to buy new trucks.
  • Agencies awarding non-competitive contracts have to justify their actions by posting documents on the web for the public to see. The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council published the new rule on non-compete bids yesterday. The “justification and approval” documents must be posted within 14 days of the award.
  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates is urging Congress to approve the fiscal 2010 supplemental spending bill by the 4th of July recess. Otherwise, the armed services would have to curtail operations affecting Afghanistan and Iraq. Gates was testifying to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Congress Daily reports, House Democrats are considering bypassing an Appropriations Committee markup of the supplemental spending bill and sending the measure straight to the floor. The Senate has passed a version already.
  • The Air Force plans to save millions by changing rate plans for thousands of cell phone accounts. OMB Director Peter Orszag says the military service will choose new plans that better reflect usage. The idea came from a federal employee in OMB’s SAVE Awards program. That fed said mobile plans for the Air Force often didn’t fall in line with usage. The swap could save more than $2 million dollars a year.
  • There’s no end in sight for big claims volumes hitting Veterans Affairs. Last year, for the first time, the VA received more than a million claims, and the department expects a 13 percent jump in claims this year. Those statistics come from Michael Walcoff, acting undersecretary for Benefits, at a congressional hearing. Overall, annual claims have risen 75 percent since 2000. Walcoff said VA is testing fast-track, electronic claims processing at its Business Transformation Lab in Providence, Rhode Island, according to NextGov.
  • The head of the General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service says that canceling federal leases is not off the table. President Obama has ordered federal agencies to eliminate excess properties by September 30th. GSA’s Bob Peck tells the Washington Business Journal that the option of canceling leases is a last resort, but that he can’t say it won’t happen. He says GSA’s first priority is to help federal agencies find their unused space and urge agencies to give up property that they don’t need. As leases expire, GSA will figure out how much space an agency really needs to function.
  • Northrop Grumman has won a $148.6 million dollar contract from the Navy to work on the development of a missile launcher system. The contract with the Navy Strategic Systems Programs calls for Northrop to provide engineering services to support a missile compartment concept and development of a prototype. The Washington Examiner reports the work will take place in California over a 12-month period with an option for an additional 12 months.
  • The Navy has awarded Falls Church-based defense contractor CSC a task order to provide services to support aircraft carriers. The Washington Business Journal reports the task order has a one-year base period and four one-year options, bringing the estimated total five-year value to $135 million dollars. CSC will provide program, lifecycle, business and financial management, as well as operations support.
  • The no-fishing zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been expanded to 81,000 square miles and now encompasses about 33% of U.S.-controlled waters, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration said.

  • More news links

    Patent & Trademark Office Joint Labor-Management Task Force proposes changes to patent examiner performance standards (USPTO press release)

    VA faces flood of new claims and charges of a ‘hostile’ work environment (NextGov)

    Sen. Warner Files Legislation to Cut $806M From Outdated or Duplicative Programs (press release)

    Senator presses State for details on Iraq security

    FCC set to reconsider broadband regulations

    Funding doubled for bicycling, walking projects

    Justice: Blackwater case should have gone forward

    Job door revolves despite fed rule (Washington Times)

    Language guru: Obama speech too ‘professorial’ for his target audience (CNN)

    Job and Stock Market Woes Could Linger for Retirees (US News & World Report)


    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    ** Medicare has been on GAO’s high risk list since 1990 in part because of concerns about waste, fraud and abuse. GAO’s most recent assessment is just out. We’ll talk to them.

    ** And Google Apps is Google’s attempt to go against the ubiquitous Microsoft’s Office suite and take those apps into the cloud. We’ll talk to the executive behind Google Apps.

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

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