Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – March 16th

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.

  • The House passed yet another stop-gap spending bill yesterday. This one funds the government for three-weeks and includes $6 billion in cuts. This is the 6th Continuing Resolution to pass this year. The vote was closer than previous ones, passing 271 to 158. The Senate is expected to pass the bill and the President is expected to sign it by Friday, which is when the existing CR expires. It will fund the government through April 8th.
  • Crowdsourcing is about to meet the federal pay debate. Lawmakers have heard from experts on federal pay and benefits – now they want to hear from the average fed. Representative Dennis Ross from Florida is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. Federal Times reports, Ross wants to go right to the horse’s mouth, asking employees for ideas on reforming the civil service system. The subcommittee plans to launch a website within the next month or two where ideas can be submitted. It is considering posting those suggestions online and allowing the public to vote on the best ones.
  • The Obama administration never planned to insource large numbers of contractor jobs. Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, acknowledges, a year ago it might have looked that way. He spoke at GSA’s IRMCO conference yesterday. Gordon says the jobs to be shifted away from contractors are inherently governmental. He adds, there are very few of them. He cites writing statements of work and agency planning as tasks OFPP found were being delegated to contractors. That, he says, is unhealthy.
  • Japanese workers were forced to evacuate a stricken nuclear power plant after radiation levels surged this morning. Workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex abandoned the plant temporarily, but are now back at work trying to cool the crippled reactors and prevent a complete meltdown. The nuclear crisis comes after Friday’s 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, that destroyed Japan’s northeastern coastline. The U.S. military, and U.S. disaster response teams led by US AID, are on the ground helping with search and rescue, logistics and providing food and supplies. Two NRC nuclear experts are also helping the Japanese. Tens of thousands of people are still missing as rescuers work against freezing temperatures.
  • The House Small Business Committee is dissatisfied with the Small Business Administration. Portfolio.com reports SBA could see its budget cut by $100 million. In part, the committee recommends eliminating funding for Veterans Business Centers, cutting funding for the Office of International Trade, and using any savings to hire more procurement-center representatives to help small businesses win federal contracts. The panel also recommended eliminating the SBA’s 10 regional offices.
  • About 30,000 people are moving into Harford County, Maryland between now and 2015. The reason: the Base Realignment and Closing Commission recommendations include sending workers to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. The Baltimore Business Journal reports Harford County has established a panel to help businesses get loans so they can build new homes, stores and other facilities to accommodate thousands of new residents. The panel’s report includes 14 recommendations, including creating a program to guarantee loans for BRAC-related projects and making wider use of existing Small Business Loan programs.
  • You’re not the only one feeling pain at the pump. The Pentagon is facing more than a Billion dollar deficit in its fuel accounts — even if oil prices remain steady! DoD Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale tells This Week in Defense News that the cost of fuel for the military is a serious problem. Federal Times reports the Pentagon spends about $16 Billion a year on fuel. If prices stay where they are now, officials expect to add another $1 Billion to $1.5 Billion to that price tag.
  • The search is on for a successor to FBI Director Robert Mueller. His 10-year term expires in September. The Wall Street Journal reports, the Obama administration is considering people from both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Mueller, a Vietnam combat veteran, became director a week before the 9/11 attacks. He has overseen a vast expansion of the FBI as it took on an anti-terrorism role.
  • Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell has been named the new president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. NCTA is a lobbying group for the cable tv and phone companies. Powell left the FCC in 2005. He is currently a senior advisor with Providence Equity Partners, which manages funds for media, entertainment, communications and information investments. The non-profit group Free Press, which advocates universal access to communications, tells the Philadelphia Business Journal that the move is an example of what they call the revolving door between industry and the FCC.

More news links

Lockheed F-35 Faces ‘Significant’ Software Delays, GAO Says (Bloomberg)

Official defends new consumer bureau against GOP

NASA investigates cocaine found at facility

Mild brain injury could soon rate Purple Heart (ArmyTimes)

NASA plans laser method for clearing space junk (GCN)

THIS AFTERNOON ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Recovery.gov — the Web site has set the standard for transparency and openness for tracking $800 billion in stimulus spending. The Recovery Board’s annual report is just out. We’ll get the board’s self-assessment for 2010.

** And the US Geological Survey increased the magnitude of the earthquake in Japan — 9.0. We’ll talk to them about how that happens.

Join Chris from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.

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