Defense bill signing, GAO non-opinion top news during holidays

The news didn\'t stop for the holidays and neither did Federal News Radio. Get a head start on the new year by catching up on the big stories that you may have ...

By Michael O’Connell
Web Editor

While many feds took time off to enjoy the holidays, big stories continued to unfold. President Obama signed the Defense Appropriation Bill and the GAO’s chief accountant explained why his office offered no opinion on the federal government’s consolidated financial report. Read these stories and others that you may have missed below.

  • Obama signs defense bill despite ‘reservations’
    Administration officials said President Obama was only signing the measure because Congress made minimally acceptable changes that no longer challenged the president’s terrorism-fighting ability. Obama said to have “serious reservations” about provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
  • Federal financial report is in, but GAO offers no opinion
    Robert Dacey, the Government Accountability Office’s chief accountant, breaks down the reasons why GAO was unable to render an opinion on the federal government’s consolidated financial report.
  • Obama delays request for $1.2T debt limit increase
    President Barack Obama is delaying his request for another $1.2 trillion increase in the nation’s debt limit at the request of congressional leaders.
  • Tighe follows Devaney as Recovery Board chair
    Kathleen S. Tighe, the inspector general of the Department of education, will succeed Earl Devaney as chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. She will oversee the board’s final 21 months, as Recovery process winds down.
    Energy Department CHCO Mike Kane.
  • Kane named ‘CHCO of the Year’ for online training, performance evaluation work
    The Energy Department is one of six agencies testing a framework aimed at revamping one of the thorniest issues in government: how supervisors evaluate employees. Chief Human Capital Officer Mike Kane led a working group of more than 100 union, management and government representatives who drafted the framework. He earned the “Chief Human Capital Officer of the Year” award from the CHCO Council.
  • VA: Happy feds saved $200 million in turnover costs
    The Department of Veterans Affairs avoided $200 million in turnover costs by investing in online training resources for employees, Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration John Sepulveda told Federal News Radio. He also explained how the VA plans to make veterans 40 percent of its workforce, weather the retirement tsunami and continue to be a federal leader on human capital issues in a wide-ranging interview.
  • DHS buys software as part of Einstein 3 deployment
    The department signs an enterprise license agreement for messaging software for all civilian agency networks as part of the intrusion detection system. Congress gave DHS $443 million for cybersecurity in the 2012 budget.
  • Army works to build and maintain intel capabilities in cloud
    The Army says it’s learned a lot about how to put intelligence capabilities directly into the hands of soldiers. The next challenge is to maintain the momentum for development of those capabilities once troops are out of combat.
  • Federal words of the year: Freeze, shutdown, Congress
    If you ask about federal employees what the biggest story of 2011, the words that cropped up the most were: freeze, shutdown and Congress, according to a Federal News Radio open-ended response survey.
  • Army’s new PEO-EIS wants to engage with industry sooner
    The Army’s newly-appointed program executive officer for enterprise information systems wants shorter RFPs but more industry engagement and an holistic view of program capabilities.
    Ed Stone, NASA’s chief scientist for the Voyager mission (
  • NASA listens as Voyager One nears edge of interstellar space
    Launched in 1977, the Voyager One space probe is approaching the heliosphere, the large bubble created by the sun, on a journey to a faraway constellation. Ed Stone has been the chief scientist of the Voyager program since its inception in 1972. He and other NASA scientists have been tracking Voyager for 34 years, listening to his transmissions and analyzing its scientific discoveries.
  • Federal pay rate outpaces private sector, lags behind inflation
    Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2011 federal employees’ paychecks increased by 1.3 percent compared to a 1.2 percent increase in the private sector.
  • Three-sided equipping strategy may mean savings for Army
    In a break from the Cold War mass-mobilization model, the Army is considering the Army Force Generation, or ARFOGEN, model as a way to find efficiency and savings in the equipping process.
  • 2011 a year of congressional showdowns
    The year can be summed up by a trio of showdowns, said Peter Schroeder, a staff writer with The Hill newspaper, in an interview on Federal Drive with Tom Temin. The near-government shutdown in April, the August debt ceiling showdown and the last-minute wrangling over the payroll tax cut.
    Army cook preparing group rations. Group rations are designed to serve as the first group meal for deployed service members, where field kitchens (without refrigeration) are available. (Photo:
  • Warfighters provide input in quest to improve MREs
    The Defense Department’s Combat Feeding Directorate oversees the nutritional requirements and changing tastes of America’s fighting force when designing its MREs, or meals ready-to-eat.
  • Treasury to end paper savings bonds
    Beginning Jan. 1, the department will discontinue paper U.S. savings bonds in favor of an all-electronic format. The move has been planned for a number of months, but Treasury “reiterated” the move this week with an announcement on its website and a timeline presenting the 76-year history of the bonds.
  • USDA saves $800 million in improper payments from being made
    USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon says that his department has cut improper payments from 10 percent to less than 4 percent from its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • FCC’s personalized dashboard targets ‘power users’
    The Federal Communications Commission launched a website this month that allows users to create a personalized dashboard to more easily access information.
  • Federal News Countdown: Top stories of 2011
    Federal News Radio’s Justin Udo and Jolie Lee count down the top federal stories of the year.
  • After two-month tax cut plan, now what?
    Meredith Shiner, Senate reporter at CQ Roll Call, tells In Depth with Francis Rose about what this extension means for you.
  • New head of NIST’s IT lab says cloud, mobile to drive vision
    Chuck Romine took over at the Information Technology Laboratory at NIST about a month ago.

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