The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.
Senate appropriators have approved a 1.4 percent pay hike for federal civilians. GovExec reports the money is part of the 2011 Financial Services and General Government spending bill. The 1.4 percent increase matches what the president requested earlier this year. The bill still faces a vote by the full Senate.
President Obama is setting a course for the changing mission in Iraq. The president will address progress toward of drawing down all combat troops by the end of this month. A transitional force of 50,000 troops will remain, to help Iraq with security training and counterterrorism. They’ll also protect federal civilians who remain in the country. President Obama will make remarks in Atlanta, at a convention of Disabled American Veterans.
Federal agencies gear up to spend $114 billion dollars on contracting, according to a new market forecast. The consulting firm FedSources estimates that agencies will spend at least that much before the fiscal year ends on September 30th. NextGov reports that would be a big uptick compared with contract spending in the previous three quarters. The fiscal 2010 budget came with $756 billion dollars for contracts.
The government’s greener rides have arrived. The delivery of 5,600 new hybrid vehicles purchased earlier this year is underway, and will continue through the end of the summer. The vehicles will double the number of government-owned hybrid vehicles, as part of an effort to help agencies reduce gasoline consumption and carbon footprints. The effort however, comes at a price, each car costs $11,000 dollars more than the nonhybrid alternative, Federal Times reports. Nearly all of the hybrid vehicles GSA purchased are 2010 Ford Fusions, a midsized sedan that gets 39 mph on city streets and highways combined.
Today is the day 1,200 National Guard Troops were to be deployed on the Mexican border. But you won’t hear the thumping of boots on the ground. Not yet, anyhow. The New York Times reports, it will actually take weeks longer to select, screen and train the 1,200 troops. The Obama administration had promised the troops for August first, but now says Sunday was just the starting date. A National Guard spokesman, said Sunday night that about 140 troops have begun working in “command and control” parts of the mission. When they do arrive, the troops will perform lookout and intelligence tasks, but leave it to Border Patrol agents to handle arrests.
The White House is expanding efforts to train postal workers to deliver drugs in case of a bio-terrorism attack. After a pilot project in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, DHS will now launch the program in six other cities. The program requires that postal service employees volunteer to participate. In a trial run in May by the Minneapolis-St. Paul postal service, delivered drugs to 205,000 households, or 575,000 people, within eight hours. Officials plan to expand the program to reach all 735,000 households in the metro area. The White House would not specify which six cities will participate in the training, USA Today reports.
New Orleans and the Justice department are declaring progress in a plan to improve the city’s police department. Since Mayor Mitch Landrieu requested federal help earlier this year, at least a dozen Justice experts have been dispatched to New Orleans, the Washington Post reports. Justice is helping with a top-to-bottom overhaul. New Orleans police officers have been accused of murder, evidence tampering, lying and racial prejudice. Since the arrival of the Justice experts, 13 New Orleans police officers have been indicted in connection with the killing of civilians. And more indictments are expected.
Dulles-based Orbital Sciences Corpopration is now the prime contractor for NASA’s small rockets program. NASA’s $125 million dollar Sounding Rocket Operations Contract II will continue work out of Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and will increase the number of Orbital employees and contractors at the facility to more than 250. Orbital was a large contractor on the original contract awarded to Northrop Grumman. According to the Washington Business Journal, the total contract could be worth $310 million dollars.
If you travel to the Middle East and other parts of the world, you may need to leave your blackberry behind. The latest country to ban BlackBerry email, instant-messaging and Web-browsing services is the United Arab Emirates. The U.A.E. government is concerned with its ability to monitor or review communications in criminal or terrorist investigations. Saudi Arabian officials over the weekend said Blackberry instant messaging will be blocked later this month. And Indian officials have expressed concern over its inability to monitor blackberry traffic.
The Army chooses winners in its first Apps for the Army contest. Military leaders have selected five first-place ideas for new applications on smart phones — and 10 second and third place winners. The first-place entries will support physical training, mapping, recruiting, mental health, and disaster relief. The Army launched the contest in March, as a way to pull on the expertise of every day soldiers and Army civilians. Winners will receive cash-prizes totaling about $30,000 dollars.
The nation’s oldest mail carrier is hanging up his bag. The U.S. Postal Service says 91-year-old Mancel Prince is retiring. He’s driven more than 1.1 million miles delivering the mail in rural Tennessee. His route covered nearly 100 miles, and earned him a Million-Mile Safe Driving award for 35 accident-free years. Prince served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam before retiring from the military. After his return to the states, he started working for the post office.
** The Energy Department has awarded $92 million for 43 cutting-edge research projects that aim to dramatically improve how the we use and produces energy — and we’ll talk to the Energy Secretary himself, Steven Chu.
** And it’s the first monday of the month. We’ll find out how your TSP performed in July.