Tuesday Morning Federal Newscast – February 1st

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.

  • If you’ve noticed how much faster security clearances are conducted, you can thank Kathy Dillaman. She’s the Office of Personnel Management point person on the clearance process. She’s retiring after 35 years at the agency. Federal Times reports a determined effort by Dilliman helped eliminate a clearance backlog that had reached more than a half million cases. Dillaman will be replaced by her deputy, Merton Miller. Dilliman herself will work temporarily as a policy advisor to OPM Chief John Berry.
  • Veterans Affairs is launching a new office to help tribal veterans get VA benefits. The Office of Tribal Government Relations will serve more than 200,000 veterans who are American Indians, Alaska Natives and Hawaii Natives. It’ll also work with veterans who are part of Alaska Native Corporations. VA has chosen Stephanie Elaine Birdwell, a former social worker and member of the Cherokee Nation from Oklahoma to lead the office.
  • The Senate will consider a long-stalled, $35 billion FAA reauthorization bill this week. The National Journal reports the measure sets policy on issues like the FAA’s Next Gen satellite-based air traffic control system. The bill cleared the Senate last year — 93 to zero. But the House and Senate couldn’t reconcile differences.
  • Two Senate bills would curtail the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia re-introduces legislation to stop the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for two years. Four other Democrats have signed on. Wyoming Republican John Barrasso’s bill would strip EPA of its authority over carbon dioxide altogether. GovExec reports a companion bill is expected in the House from Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton of Michigan. The legislative moves come as the agency prepares to carry out the administration’s carbon reduction policies.
  • The State Department has just landed more office space. The General Services Administration has signed a 10-year, 243,000 square foot lease in Rosslyn. The Washington Business Journal reports the agency has renewed is lease for 176,000 square feet and added another 67,000 to grow into over the next year and a half. The building is known as Plaza East. It is already home to more than 800 State Department workers. They hope to hire 300 more.
  • Lockheed Martin has received a $139.6 million contract with the military. Under the deal, as reported by the Washington Business Journal, the defense contractor will provide 44 combat-proven High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to the Army. The HIMARS launcher fleet is designed to help troops engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers. HIMARS can speed away from the area after it launches its missiles, well before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site.
  • The U.S. ambassador to China has resigned. Jon Huntsman says he will leave the post on April 30th. Huntsman, a Republican, is a former governor of Utah and was appointed ambassador by President Barack Obama in 2009. Huntsman’s political aspirations have generated attention in political circles because of his foreign policy experience. The New York Times reports his resignation clears the way for him “to challenge the administration he now serves in 2012.”
  • Chinese dry wall might stink up your house and corrode your pipes. But it won’t kill you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it has found no link between the tainted drywall and eleven deaths of people exposed. The agency reports all of the deaths were caused by pre-existing, chronic health conditions.” Homebuilders in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Virginia used imported drywall during the housing boom because of shortages. Some drywall from China had high levels of sulfur. The CDC backs up findings by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

More news links

Judge: Obama’s health overhaul unconstitutional

Feds look for ways to prevent bedbugs from biting

Family of slain ex-Pentagon official wants info

Napolitano touts safety of US border communities

Cairo ramps up evacuations, thousands still stuck

Why taking lunch makes you a better employee (CNN)


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Yes, the public sector pay debate has been going on. The real concern — getting the right people for the right job. State and local governments have been facing this issue for awhile, particularly with IT workers. We’ll tap lessons learned coming from a new report.

** And GSA Advantage has just issued version 12.0. We’ll find out what’s new

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