Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Senate action on U.S. Postal Service measure delayed

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The great Senate debate on postal overhaul legislation ain’t happening—definitely not today and possibly not until mid-April, after lawmakers return from a two-week spring break. Instead, the Senate is poised to lock horns for a while on a bill to repeal oil and gas industry tax breaks. That’s not what many folks were expecting. In fact, dickering on the postal measure sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Ct., was reportedly continuing as late as this morning. The plan was this: Late this afternoon, the Senate would first take a procedural vote on whether to debate the oil and gas tax repeal legislation.…

Sen. Collins' speech on the Postal Service

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, drew plenty of attention last week for her speech on postal issues. Since news outlets couldn’t excerpt much more than a fraction of what she said, FedLine thought it might be worthwhile to post the entire address, both as prepared and as Collins actually delivered it on the Senate floor, according to materials provided by her office. The first version is on the left; the second on the right. SENATOR COLLINS CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN POSTAL REFORM   WASHINGTON – – U.S. Senator Susan Collins today, from the Senate floor, outlined the importance of the bipartisan postal reform…

Issa introduces draft bill to reform federal information security

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Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced draft legislation Friday that would reform the 2002 Federal Information System Management Act. The Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2012, would provide stronger oversight of federal networks, computers and other information systems by focusing on continuous monitoring of those systems, according to a news release. “FISMA had become a compliance activity, even at times when compliance appeared to supersede security.” The draft legislation, which is open for comment, defines automated and continuous monitoring as monitoring, with minimal human involvement, through an uninterrupted, ongoing real time, or near real-time process used to determine if the…

AFGE's Cox to receive Yitzhak Rabin award

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J. David Cox, the national secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Government Employees, on May 9 will receive the Yitzhak Rabin Public Service Award. The American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center is giving Cox the award — which honors labor leaders and was named for the slain Israeli prime minister, labor minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner — to honor his years spent organizing federal employees at the Veterans Affairs Department and Transportation Security Administration. Cox said he helped organize at least 75,000 VA employees in some 100 elections nationwide over the last 16 years, as well as another…

Postal Service and mail handlers heading into mediation

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For those keeping track of the three-ring show known as U.S. Postal Service labor negotiations, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union reports that a federally appointed mediator is now in place to help the two sides settle on a new contract. The mediation process can take 60 days; if it fails, the next step will likely be binding arbitration. An impasse was declared in late January in the Postal Service’s contract talks with both the mail handlers union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The NALC announced the appointment of a mediator last month. “We’re working hard,” President Fredric Rolando…

Senate could take up postal bill next week

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The wind-up has taken a while, but the full Senate might–just might–pitch into a major debate on postal issues next week. Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced a motion that would allow senators to take up the bill, known as the 21st Century Postal Service Act, as early as Monday. Although everything in the Senate (and we mean everything) is subject to change, Reid presumably wouldn’t have proceeded without some chance of having the votes to kick off debate. At the same time, it’s worth noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., isn’t commenting. Lawmakers could also have…

No more than 20 vendors to get initial cloud security assessments

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As many as 20 cloud computing vendors will be certified for federal use under a new security assessment program when it launches in June. The General Services Administration, which manages the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), has said that companies already providing cloud technology to agencies under GSA’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service contract will be among the first to have their technology vetted through the program. Vendors on GSA’s upcoming Email-as-a-Service contract will also be given priority. After being vetted and meeting any additional standards to ensure security, companies are approved to offer their products and services for sale to agencies.…

OSC caseload spiking

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Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner is about to testify before a Senate subcommittee, and her prepared remarks contain some interesting stats on the growing workload at the Office of Special Counsel: OSC expects its overall caseload in fiscal 2012 will be 10 percent higher than last year. Waste, fraud and abuse whistleblower disclosures will likely be 32 percent higher this year than in fiscal 2011. OSC expects to see a 6 percent increase in prohibited personnel practice cases this year. In fiscal 2011, OSC received 2,583 cases, which itself was a record. Overall filings have jumped 30 percent over the last…

Sen. Susan Collins faults the Postal Service (and the Postmaster General)

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, took to the Senate floor today to blast the U.S. Postal Service. That in itself was not surprising; many members of Congress are unhappy with the agency’s recently unveiled plans to close or consolidate more than 220 mail processing plants. What’s noteworthy is not so much what Collins said, but how she said it—criticizing Postmaster General Pat Donahoe in sharply personal terms, according to a transcript released by her office. “I find myself in a quandary, one created by the Postmaster General himself as he shifts from plan to plan, from negotiation to negotiation,” Collins concluded.…

Obama pushes for Senate transportation bill with phased retirement

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President Obama today urged the House to pass the transportation bill the Senate approved last week. That bill, S 1813, contains a provision to allow older feds to phase into retirement — that is, work part-time while earning a partial pension — at the end of their careers. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on March 8 said he planned to bring the Senate’s bill up for a vote, instead of the troubled House transportation bill. But he may change course on that. Boehner is facing resistance to the Senate bill from members of his own party, and The Hill reports…