Friday Morning Federal Newscast - January 14th

Friday - 1/14/2011, 7:23am EST

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.

  • Colorado Republican Representative Mike Coffman has introduced a bill that would bring furloughs to government. The measure would require a non-consecutive two week furlough in 2012. That requirement would apply to federal civilians, but the bill would exempt workers in Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement. The proposal would also cut congressional salaries by 10 percent. Coffman says the measure would save about $5.5 billion.

  • Labor groups are pushing back against proposals to cut federal pay, benefits and the federal workforce. Fifteen groups, including federal unions, have sent a letter to the president condemning recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. They say the proposals send the wrong message about public service when the government needs to attract and recruit talent.Texas Republican Representative Kevin Brady has introduced a bill that backs some of the ideas, including one that would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent.

  • The Defense Department continues work to create a new performance-appraisal system. DOD will meet with labor groups on January 20th to begin working on ideas. The new setup will replace the National Security Personnel System, which is being phased out by law. In late February, Defense will kick off design work groups. More than 170,000 defense civilians have already moved out of NSPS, 54,000 employees remain, and about 6,000 of those will return to the general schedule system.

  • An influential Senator is calling for an investigation into abuse of the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Maine Senator Susan Collins says people in their 80s and 90s, as well as dead people, are collecting payments. GovExec reports, Collins wants the Government Accountability Office to take a look. The law is designed to compensate federal workers for time lost from job-related injuries or disease. But Collins says thousands are collecting payments they are no longer entitled to. Some are double-dipping. She cited the Postal service, which has 132 people 90 or older still collecting benefits.

  • The Navy plans to force early retirement for up to two hundred senior officers. The Navy personnel command says it's because of high retention rates and low attrition rates. They'll convene what's called a Selective Early Retirement Board in July. Right now, the military branch plans to trim about a hundred captains and a hundred commanders. The board's final recommendations must be approved by the secretary of the Navy. Then, by federal law, anyone who's affected must retire within seven months.

  • The Department of Defense kicked off its Tricare Young Adult Program. But Tricare officials said the exact premiums are yet to be decided. The program lets civilian members of Tricare buy health insurance for adult children up to age 26. The program was mandated by last year's health care reform law. Another law, the 2011 Defense Authorization Act, requires the Young Adult Program to be self sustaining. That means premiums must cover the entire cost. The program won't be fully in place until this spring, but members can purchase coverage retroactively to the start of this year.

  • GSA has canceled a $22 million contract to revamp the Defense Department's electronic health records system. The contract belonged to HP Enterprise Services, and was for improvements to the AHLTA system. Defense health leaders have touted it as a fundamental restructuring of the system, but NextGov reports that HP and DOD aren't giving reasons for the cancellation. GAO has reported in the past that the Pentagon has spent $2 billion over 13 years to develop AHLTA, but users have complained about system performance.

  • If you hear, "there's an app for that," it might be the National Security Agency. Two new smart phone applications are aimed at helping the agency with recruitment. The first application is called NSA Career Links. Available from iTunes, it pushes notices of new job openings and job fairs right to the user's iPhone. The second app is smart phone tagging. It also works on Android phones. Users scan tags appearing in print employment ads. The scanning launches videos with details about the jobs. The whole effort, NSA says, it so recruit the best and brightest to its cyber security staff.