Thursday Morning Federal Newscast – March 31st

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.

  • A 2011 budget deal might be in the cards after all. Congressional leaders, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, were close to an agreement yesterday. If finalized, it would avoid a government shutdown after the continuing resolution expires next Friday. The plan would cut $33 billion from 2010 spending levels. Democratic leaders wanted level spending, Republicans wanted $60 billion in cuts. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boeher says, nothing is decided until everything is decided.
  • Federal fleet managers and drivers can kiss their gasoline-burning vehicles good-bye. All federal fleet purchases would consist of alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles starting in 2015 under President Obama’s energy initiative. The president outlines a plan for reducing oil imports. He includes the government in the effort. Federal Times reports, the federal fleet has more than 662,000 cars. Only about 11,000 are hybrids. Another 158,300 are so-called flex fuel – they run on either gas or ethanol.
  • Federal personnel workers get a look-see at a new tool to help them with their jobs. The web site is the second phase of the online Human Resources University. The site contains a course catalog, career guides for HR professionals and recruitment information. The unveiling was sponsored by the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the Partnership for Public Service.
  • He went out with a bang. On his his final day on the job, the special inspector general for TARP tells a Senate panel, banks once deemed too big to fail are even bigger than ever. Neil Barofsky also had barbs for home mortgage relief under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He called that a colossal failure. Wall Street Journal reports, Barofsky’s comments were contradicted by Timothy Massad, Treasury’s acting assistant secretary for financial stability. According to Treasury, TARP investment in banks has now turned a profit.
  • The U.S. Postal Service could save billions of dollar by axing Saturday mail service says the Government Accountability Office. A new GAO report agrees with USPS estimates, saying the postal service could save more than $3 billion by eliminating weekend mail delivery. USPS can find additional savings, the report concludes, by cutting employee hours and reducing operational costs to match declining mail volume. Auditors say total savings depend on how they implement the new policy and how quickly the Postal Service makes those changes.
  • A new bill could save the government $8 million a year in printing costs. The measure would limit the Government Printing Office to making just over a hundred copies of the Congressional Record per day. Right now, GPO makes more than 4,500 copies each day. But bill sponsors Senators Tom Coburn and Herb Kohl say very few people actually use them because they can get the Record online. Only the Vice President, Members of Congress, and the Archives would automatically receive copies under the new bill.
  • Computer systems operators in the federal government could soon have a new title. The Office of Personnel Management issues a draft job description for a position to be called information technology program manager. NextGov reports the new position ties into the administration’s 25-point plan for improving IT and IT acquisition. The program manager designation is reserved for those who oversee big IT set-ups.
  • A woman’s place is on the mall — the National Mall. Two lawmakers want to revive legislation creating a National Women’s History Museum in Washington. The House passed the bill in 2009, but time ran out during that congressional session for the Senate to vote. Maine Senator Susan Collins and New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney say they’re introducing bills to try again. The museum would be built at 12th Street and Independence Avenue near the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall. Organizers plan to hold a fundraiser today and will honor the work of former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and other women.

More news links

Shh! Obama gets anti-secrecy award (Politico)

10 sailors injured during training off Calif.

USGS finds 2,000-year-old coral near BP Gulf well

CIA sends teams to Libya; US considers rebel aid

House Republicans seek IRS probe of AARP

NASA to check for shuttle damage after hail storm (CNN)

INSIDE WASHINGTON: Pork trumps preserving history

Retiree health cost estimate falls, for a change

Where the Bailout Went Wrong (OpEd By Neil Barofsy in NYTimes)

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