Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – June 24th

House trims budget another $7B, Despite orders, NASA keeps funding projects, Army: Old Arlington headstones in stream for erosion control

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Congress Daily reports the package, at $1.1 trillion, is also slightly lower than the budget resolution the Senate Budget Committee passed in April.

  • The president’s push for agencies to save money could generate billions more for the IT sector. The market research firm INPUT is predicting that federal agencies will spend $112 billion dollars on IT by 2015. That’s an increase of more than 5 percent each year. INPUT says that most of that spending will be on contracts. The increase could be fueled in part by the administration’s directive for agencies to consider IT as a way to save money.
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s has ordered his agency to slow spending on a Bush-era space program, while Congress and administration debate it. But down in the agency, money continues to flow. Contractors Alliant Techsystems and Lockheed this week received contracts totalling $240 million for work on the controversial Ares rocket and crew capsule, according to the Wall Street Journal. A NASA spokesman says another $630 million in contracts for the existing programs could be awarded in coming weeks. Also: Aviation Week reports NASA managers this week plan to request new launch dates for the final two shuttle flights. If approved, NASA would postpone the September launch of shuttle Discovery on STS-133 to October.
  • Flawed data developed by the federal government might have mislead BP about the dangers of a deepwater oil still. The Wall Street Journal reports projections developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed even a big oil spill would be dissipated by waves and not hit the shore. The last update of the model was 2004, according to the Journal. Oil companies are required to use the models in developing their drilling plans. Meanwhile, NOAA joined BP in downplaying estimates of how much oil was escaping in the days after the platform fire, according to NextGov. After a month, the Coast Guard decided it needed better estimates and started deployed sensors.
  • President Obama is nominating John Podesta to serve on the board that helps set policies and direction for the government’s national service agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service. Podesta is among seven people the president plans to nominate to the bipartisan board. Podesta served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff. He heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy group. Other nominees include two Republicans, Marguerite Kondracke and Rick Christman. Kondracke is president and chief executive officer at America’s Promise Alliance, which was founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Christman is the top executive at Employment Solutions Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps people overcome barriers to employment.
  • One federal stimulus program has gotten a luke-warm reception. States have paid out only a third the $300 million set aside for rebates on energy-efficient household appliances. That’s disappointed manufacturers and retailers. They’d hoped for more of a barn-burner like the 2009 Cash for Clunkers program, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Whirlpool spokesman blames complexity of the rules for rebates, which vary state by state.
  • Fannie Mae is cracking down on defaulters. The Washington Business Journal reports Fannie Mae is boosting penalties for people who default by prohibiting them from getting a mortgage, backed by the company, for seven years from foreclosure. Fannie Mae also says it will take legal action to recoup debt and will be instructing servicers to monitor delinquent loans and recommend cases that need deficiency judgments. The policy changes are designed to encourage borrowers to work with their servicers and pursue alternatives to foreclosure.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has received approval from the FAA to use drones to beef up border security along the Mexican border. The unmanned planes will be used along the Texas border and across the Gulf Coast region. Drones can fly for 20 hours without refueling, while a helicopter lasts about two hours.
  • Meanwhile, parts of Mexico are getting a little farther away. The strong Easter earthquake physically moved the border city of Calexico. NASA data released Wednesday revealed the magnitude-7.2 quake shifted the Calexico region up to 2 1/2 feet in a southerly direction. Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory studied the latest ground shift using radar outfitted on an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, a sort of super-drone, reports Cnet.

  • More news links

    Army: Old Arlington headstones in stream for erosion control

    Vehicles Drive Pentagon Purchasing (Aviation Week’s DTI on

    Treasury pay czar leaving to focus on spill fund

    Interior: Drilling moratorium could be refined

    Scientists warn of ‘Space Weather Katrina’ and say U.S. is unprepared (NY Daily News)


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