Thursday morning federal headlines – Dec. 13, 2012

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling it quits. NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco said she will step down in February. Lubchenco has been in the hot spot plenty of times in her three years as administrator. She defended the agency’s response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010. She oversaw a controversial transition to a new fishery management system in New England and, more recently, she answered Congressional calls for financial reform at NOAA’s National Weather Service. Lubchenco said she wants to return to academia and her family on the West Coast. No successor has been named. (AP)
  • Could gold make money for the federal government? Some lawmakers are looking at the mining industry’s profits and are interested in a piece. The government collects royalties from fossil fuels extracted from federal lands and waters but it doesn’t reap any profit from metals mined in the same areas. A 140-year-old law prohibits the government from collecting royalties on mining. Two Democrat senators, Arizona’s Raul Grijalva and New Mexico’s Tom Udall, said they will press for a repeal. (AP)
  • Congress gave bean counters at the Department of Homeland Security a deadline under the so-called DART Act. It asked the agency for a clean audit of the department’s finances with a goal of next year. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said it’s “ridiculous” that DHS has avoided an audit for this long. Government auditors have placed the department’s finances on a high-risk list. The bill sailed through the House yesterday after passing the Senate earlier this year. It now heads to the President. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal CIOs found it’s tougher to establish mobile technology than they expected. A CIO Council working group is making five recommendations to improve the acceptance and use of mobile devices across government. One idea is developing a cross-functional team to evaluate mobile computing. The team would look at the technology, legal and privacy issues that go with using personal smartphones or tablets. The Council also identified barriers to mobile acceptance and suggested ways to overcome them. (
  • The General Services Administration’s drive to become more efficient and more centralized started with 632 ideas from its employees. Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said the agency is implementing 10 of those ideas that could save as much as $6 million. Tangherlini said he’s analyzing 40 more ideas to figure out how best to use them to change GSA. The agency will detail some of the 40 ideas in the 2014 budget request going to Congress in February. Tangherlini spoke at the Federal Cross-Agency Management conference in Washington. (FedCAM 2012)
  • The pace of activity in regulatory agencies is on the rise since the election. Republican lawmakers said that before Nov. 6, the administration was holding back on new regulations for political reasons. Now, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the real regulatory agenda is coming out. In recent weeks, the EPA proposed new rules on water quality. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pushed for a long-delayed requirement for data recorders in cars. Health and Human Services proposed rules and fees to implement health care overhaul. But consumer and environmental groups said even more regulations are needed. (Federal News Radio)
  • If you work for NASA, the FDIC or the Surface Transportation Board, you might whistle while you work. Those are the best big, mid-sized and small agencies to work for according to a survey by the Partnership for Public Service. The group released its 2012 rankings based on the governmentwide employee viewpoint survey. It found a troubling story in the government overall – the satisfaction and commitment levels of federal workers have plunged to their lowest point in nine years. The Partnership said leadership, or lack of it, is the biggest factor in an employee’s satisfaction on the job. (Federal News Radio)