Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – December 23

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The White House has released more information about the federal employee pay freeze. It will take effect on January 1, 2011. All statutory pay adjustments for all executive branch pay schedules are frozen for two years. Employees who are promoted within-grade will still receive step increases. But performance based pay raises are not happening, according to an order signed last night by President Obama. The Office of Personnel Management will implement the freeze. Guidance from OPM is expected in the next few weeks.
  • After two years in the job, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro can take the word acting off his title. Before adjourning, the Senate confirmed Dodaro as head of the Government Accountability Office by unanimous consent. Dodaro became acting Comptroller General after the early departure of David Walker. Dodaro had been the audit agency’s chief operating officer for nine years before that. In all, he’s spent 40 years as a civil servant. Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, praised Dodaro for working tirelessly to improve government performance.
  • The Government Accountability Office has hired David Fischer to be that agency’s new Chief Administration officer and Chief Financial Officer. Fischer is currently the head of the soon-to-be defunct Business Transportation agency at the Pentagon. Federal Times reports Fischer will oversee GAO’s human capital office, professional development programs, information technology and field operations. The Business Transportation Agency that he currently heads is being shuttered as part of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s push to cut spending over the next five years.
  • The nation’s deputy chief technology officer is resigning. Andrew McLaughlin says he wants to launch a couple of start-ups aimed at technology development. The Washington Post reports that McLaughlin sent an email, saying that he wants to focus on fostering low-cost, collaborative tech for state and local governments, and support new start-ups in developing countries. McLaughlin was a Google executive before he joined the White House’s technology office headed by CTO Aneesh Chopra. Today is his last day in the White House.
  • A New Deputy Commissioner will be taking the reigns at the social security administration. Carolyn Colvin was confirmed before the Senate adjourned for the year yesterday. She is the former CEO of AMERIGROUP, which works directly with state and the federal government to coordinate programs like Medicaid, Medicare and S-CHIP. Colvin is no stranger to the SSA. She’s held a number of posts within Social Security in the past, including Deputy Commissioner of Operations from 1998 to 2001.
  • At least 8 Veterans Affairs facilities have been caught violating rules protecting the storage of patient data, in the last few months. Federal Times reports the facilities were violating the VA’s rule against using online tools, like Google Docs, to share private health information from one office to another. One Orthopedics Department in Chicago was using Yahoo Calendar to share patients’ information. Full names, types of surgery and last four digits of Social Security numbers were all stored in the calendar since July 2007, and included the personal information of 878 patients. The VA’s policy is that no patient information be stored on systems outside its firewalls. VA’s CIO Roger Baker says it’s an issue that they will continue to address.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency will move ahead with new regulations for greenhouse gas emissions by power plants and refineries. The announcement is expected today. The Wall Street Journal reports new, lower standards for carbon dioxide output would take effect between July and December of next year. The regulations are strongly opposed by industry. Congressional Republicans say the EPA is overstepping its authority. The new rules, if enacted, could force large plants to adopt cleaner energy sources, such as natural gas or nuclear.
  • NASA says it will be hosting a “Tweet-up” event in February. According to Govloop, the event will provide NASA twitter followers the chance to speak directly with scientists and NASA leadership and talk about their favorite subject: outer space. The Tweet-up will feature a “meet and greet” session to allow participants to mingle with the experts. 100 people will be selected to participate. They will be chosen at random from those who register. Registration opens January 5.

More news links

Democratic majority ends with accomplishments

Chinese leader makes state visit to US on Jan. 19

2010: A quake, a meltdown, a dramatic rescue


Coming up today on In Depth with Francis Rose:

**A deep dive on financial management at the Pentagon and defense contractors, with Al Tucker, Executive Director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, a 34-year veteran of government auditing and financial management

**Former E-Government Administrator Karen Evans shares her predictions for 2011

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