The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear saving $100 billion over the next five years. Federal Times reports, the discussions focused on policy, work force improvement and the procurement process itself. One meeting took place at a think tank, the other at National Defense University at Fort McNair.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer calling for the nation to consider trimming its defense budget. Hoyer says the country is on an unsustainable course with spending and calls the rising debt a national security threat, as America continues to borrow from other nations. He says defense spending should not be exempt from the budget cutting that’s happening in other parts of government. The national debt recently topped $13 trillion dollars.
Citing published reports of corruption, one lawmaker vows to cut $3.9 billion in aid for Afghanistan from next year’s spending. Representative Nita Lowey of New york, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls the State Department budget, said she wants assurances the money won’t go to drug lords and crooked Afghan government officials. The Washington Post reports, Lowey would block money for roads and other infrastructure, but not for troops or humanitarian aid.
The White House warns agencies that it will review high-risk IT projects and terminate them if necessary. The plan is part of an effort to eliminate spending on programs that are failing. The White House will start with projects to upgrade financial systems. That review begins next week. And by October, OMB will come out with new guidance to improve federal IT procurement and management.
The Veterans Affairs department is at risk of losing a $127-million dollar outpatient scheduling system that it’s been building for more than nine years. The Government Accountability Office says leaders for the project are at risk of repeating mistakes that already caused them to fail once before. The Scheduling Replacement Project is supposed to upgrade another system that’s been around for 25-years. VA first stopped the replacement project last year. GAO says the department needs to fix serious management problems in order to succeed in their second try.
A tense Monday for members of the administration working to improve small business contracting. A three-hour meeting full with small business advocates and owners, visibly frustrated by a contracting system they say favors large companies. Government Executive reports that people packed the public meeting held at the Commerce Department — many concerned that they’re losing out on opportunities because of contract bundling, poorly enforced acquisition rules and awards diverted to large firms. The meeting was hosted by agencies that co-chair the newly-created Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses.
The BRAC moves have begun. Defense Department tenants are moving out of their Arlington offices. The Washington Business Journal reports the Missile Defense Agency has started to move 2,200 jobs to Alabama over the summer, just as 200 workers at the Defense Information Systems Agency are packing up and heading to Ft. Meade. The entire BRAC process will leave 4.2 million square feet of vacated space in Arlington.
The State Department has killed plans for a Foreign Affairs Security Training Center on the Eastern Shore, reports the Washington Business Journal among others. Hundreds of nearby residents strongly opposed construction of the site, saying that it would have fundamentally altered the character of their town. The 1,250-acre center would have turned a rural stretch of Centreville in Queen Anne’s County into a hands-on training facility. It was to include a mock urban simulation area, firing ranges, driving tracks and an explosives testing area. The facility would’ve consolidated diplomatic training currently conducted at 19 facilities nationwide. The State Department and GSA are still looking for another site for the facility.
The Food and Drug Administration has issued non-binding recommendations to encourage the meat industry to ease up on using antibiotics. The FDA wants livestock to receive the medicines only if they’re sick, not just to beef them up. Researchers caution against having antibiotics mixed into animal feed just to boost growth. However, the Union of Concerned Scientists says the FDA recommendations don’t go far enough. The non-profit group says studies link the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed with the emergence of super-germs that can pose a greater risk to human health.
The Defense Department wants to make voting easier for service members and civilians living overseas. It has launched an online program to make registration and absentee balloting faster and more intuitive. Until now, absentee voters abroad had to weigh though a 290-page manual to find their home state requirements. Bob Carey, the federal voting assistance program director, announced the new service to the Pentagon Channel.
** USA.gov is going mobile… And just in time for the Fourth of July. The new site is unveiled today and we’ll tell you about it this afternoon.
** And it’s official: TSA has reached a milestone. Every flying passenger is now being checked against terrorist watch lists. How did they do it? We’ll talk to the head of the Secure Flight Initiative.