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News Briefs: May 6, 2013

May. 5, 2013 - 01:45PM   |  
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Defense cuts slow jobs recovery

Defense spending cuts are starting to take a toll on the economy, further slowing a sluggish jobs recovery.

The effects were modest in April but will intensify in coming months.

Many defense contractors ďare telling us that this recently began to rock the supply chain,Ē says Marion Blakey, CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.

Cuts in the federal budget took effect March 1, part of a deficit-reduction package. About half the $44 billion in cuts expected by Sept. 30 will come out of defense spending.

Defense and aerospace contractors announced about 2,000 layoffs in April as a result of the cuts, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said last week. Thatís double the number announced in March.

Besides layoffs, hundreds of defense contractors are not filling open positions and putting off new hiring, says Loren Thompson, a Lexington Institute defense analyst .

Defense cuts likely will pare job gains by 25,000 to 30,000 a month this year, says Stephen Fuller, an economist at George Mason University.

Interior awards $1 billion cloud contract

The Interior Department has awarded 10 vendors spots on its $1 billion cloud services contract.

Under the 10-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, vendors will provide cloud storage, secure file transfer, database hosting, Web hosting, development and testing, and virtual machine services. Virtual machine services enable agencies to create virtual, rather than physical, versions of their servers and desktop capabilities so employees can access work documents and applications from any device.

The contract, awarded May 1, will be available to other agencies.

Eight of the winning vendors are also on the General Services Administrationís cloud email and infrastructure services contracts. They are Autonomic Resources, CGI, Lockheed Martin, Unysis, IBM, Smartronix, Verizon and AT&T. The other winners are Global Technology Resources and Aquilent.

Panel recommends LEED building certification

The General Services Administration Green Building Advisory Committee recommended last week that agencies use the LEED certification system as the primary means to measure building energy efficiency.

The recommendation gives a boost to the U.S. Green Building Councilís Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, which scores how environmentally friendly a building is based on everything from its construction materials to its proximity to mass transit. Buildings can be LEED-certified or achieve higher degrees of greenness at the LEED Silver, Gold or Platinum levels.

GSA, which manages most of the governmentís non-Defense building projects, requires that all new buildings in its purview be LEED Gold-certified. Other agencies, such as the Agriculture Department, occasionally use another standard: the Green Building Initiativeís Green Globes system.

The LEED system has drawn fire from lawmakers and industry groups, who protest that the standards favor or exclude building materials such as American lumber.

GSA is required every five years to evaluate green building certifications for government use and recommend to the Energy Department which systems to use.

Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini will review the committee recommendation, and GSA will issue a formal recommendation to the Energy Department over the summer, according to GSA. Energy will then choose one or more standards.

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