Monday Morning Federal Newscast - June 21st

Monday - 6/21/2010, 8:17am EDT

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.

  • The White House launches a new push to reduce improper payments. The memo from President Obama requires agencies to to check the government's "do not pay list" before making payments or awards. The "do not pay list" is a name given to a set of databases run by several agencies -- with information that could alert contracting officers about potential problems. Agencies have until mid-August to submit information on pre-and-post-award checks.

  • The people behind your Thrift Savings Plan have developed an idea they say would streamline death benefits and reduce fraud. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has proposed a rule that would require TSP participants to include more personal details on beneficiary forms. Those details include Social Security numbers and birth dates. That's information that many people currently omit from the forms. The board says that makes it difficult to locate beneficiaries when a TSP participant dies. They're taking your comments on the proposal. You have until July 19th.

  • Coming soon to an unmarried couple near you: New federal employee benefits. Starting July 14, unmarried employees, whether gay or straight, gain 13 days of paid sick leave to care for domestic partners or partners' relatives. They can also make funeral arrangements, and receive 13 days of advance sick leave if they are out of accrued leave, Federal Times reports. And that 12 weeks of sick leave available to married employees to care for a spouse's serious medical condition? That's also available to gay and straight unmarried employees. Ditto for adding partners to long-term care policies. On June 2 the president made that available to same-sex partners. Last week, final rules made it available to all unmarried domestic partners.

  • More doctors turn down Medicare patients because of low federal reimbursement rates. New cuts in payments took effect Friday when the House and Senate passed differing bills. USAToday reports several health care groups show declining participation by doctors. For example: The American Academy of Family Physicians says 13 percent of respondents to a survey avoided Medicare last year, up from 6 percent in 2004. The American Medical Association says 17 percent of more than 9,000 doctors surveyed restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practices. In about six months, baby boomers will be eligible to apply for Medicare.

  • Electronic health records gain a step towards widespread adoption. Health and Human Services has established a temporary certification program under which it can test and certify records systems. Certification is the responsibility of The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Certified EHR technology is required under a provision of the 2009 stimulus bill and is designed to ensure that records systems work as promised. HHS says final certification rules will come out soon.

  • New functions are coming to the Data.gov site. Soon, users will be able to combine many of the data sets with maps, creating their own geospatial mashups. Several agencies have been working together the mapping function, a group that includes the EPA, General Services Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, Health and Human Services and NASA, according to NextGov. A preview will be available within a month at data.gov, which now boasts more then 270,000 data sets.

  • Northrop Gumman is taking a chunk of its stock off the table. Washington Business Journal reports the defense contractor is authorizing the repurchase of as much as $2 billion dollars in common shares. That's 11 percent of Northrop's market value. The move comes as Northrop moves its headquarters to Northern Virginia from Los Angeles.

More news links

Washington-area growth collides with Obama's aim to cut office space (FederalTimes)

White House Dismisses Emanuel Quitting Report as 'Ludicrous' (FoxNews.com)

Top senator has concerns about Obama spy nominee

Global Hawk In Tailspin, Maybe (DoDBuzz)

VA quietly giving benefits to Marines exposed to toxic water (McClatchy Newspapers)

Alert for Missing Afghan Military Members at Lackland AFB (FoxNews.com)

Abnormal radiation detected near Korean border

Coming in 2011: New Labels for Light Bulb Packaging (FTC press release)

FDA urges consumers to avoid coffee aphrodisiac