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.
On the one hand, President Obama says that a government shutdown will have dire consequences for federal agencies. On the other hand, the Office of Management and Budget is directing agencies to not discuss what those consequences might be. USA Today is reporting that emails from OMB to federal agencies instructed managers to -in their words- not state or imply what functions would or would not be continued — if the government were to shut down. It also says that agencies shouldn’t preview their shutdown plans in any way. Just three days before the first shutdown deadline this year, OMB distributed talking points to federal managers, telling them to downplay the possibility of a shutdown, and to only provide historical details from the 1995/96 shutdown.
Sparring over the 2011 federal budget intensifies. Majority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia vows, the House will not pass another continuing resolution after the current one expires April 8th. That is, unless there is a long-term agreement with Senate Democrats in place first. And any agreement would have to include big budget cuts. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is heard on tape saying he’s under party orders to label all Republican proposals as extreme and draconian. But Democrats say they might accept Republican-backed curbs on the EPA as part of a budget compromise. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterates an offer of $20 billion in cuts on top of $10 billion already enacted.
Senior Executive Service members should forget about raises for the time being. But they might see progress on reform of the SES itself. Nancy Kichak is the associate director of OPM for employee services. She tells a Senate panel, with a pay freeze in effect for the rest of the federal workforce, it would be unfair for SESers to get raises. But Kichak says the administration’s efforts to update and reform the Senior Executive Service could start paying dividends by the summer. She cites pooling of recruitment opportunities and mentoring programs.
Data.gov is unveiling a new section with near real-time data on earthquakes and nuclear radiation. The additions come in the wake of the disaster in Japan. Government Computer News reports one new feature provides continual updates on global earthquake data from the last seven days. It’s compiled by the Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey. That dataset has already been downloaded more than 136,000 times since Monday. You can also access their RadNet database with hourly updates from a national network of radiation monitoring stations in each of the 50 states. The stations regularly collect air, water, precipitation and milk samples to test for nuclear radioactivity in the environment.
The Small Business Administration is expanding its 504 loan program. At first, SBA restricted its new refinancing option to small businesses that faced balloon payments on their mortgages before December 31st, 2012. But now, the Washington Business Journal reports SBA will expand the option to include businesses with balloon payments even after that date. SBA Administrator Karen Mills says the move should help more small businesses restructure their debt and free up capital.
A chemist with the Food and Drug Administration and his son are under arrest, charged with insider trading. Prosecutors say 57 year old Cheng Yi Liang and his son, 25 year old Andrew Liang, used confidential information from a password-protected FDA tracking system to buy and trade drug company stocks. Investigators say the pair would focus on stocks with companies that had pending applications with the FDA. The $2.27 million scheme has allegedly been going on since 2007.