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Monday - Friday, 6-9 a.m.
Hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp bring you the latest news affecting the federal community each weekday morning, featuring interviews with top government executives and contractors. Listen live from 6 to 9 a.m. or download archived interviews on our daily show blogs.
Thursday federal headlines - December 26, 2013
Thursday - 12/26/2013, 10:26am EST
- Charles Rothwell has been named the new director of the National Center for Health
NCHS, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monitors
the nation's health.
It gathers related information for research, policy and programs. Rothwell's
previous job was director
of the NCHS Division of Vital Statistics. He succeeds Dr. Edward Sondik, who
stepped down in April to retire.
Federal News Radio named Rothwell one of its Top
Leaders in Federal Service last February.
- A Veterans Affairs Department employee has won this year's SAVE Award. Kenneth Siehr of Milwaukee received 16,000 of
the 33,000 votes cast for his idea
to let outpatients at VA facilities track their medicine prescriptions online.
The hope is that the change will help avoid
thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of phone calls to VA pharmacies. Siehr
was one of four
in the White House's annual competition. SAVE stands for Securing Americans Value
and Efficiency. Each year,
the winner gets to meet the President personally in the Oval Office.
- Veterans Affairs staff and veterans' groups are gearing up for the annual census of homeless vets. Each January they comb city
streets to locate and tally up those sleeping outside or in shelters. They then
try to get them
into permanent housing. Employees from Housing and Urban Development also help.
The Obama administration has set a
deadline to end veteran homelessness by 2015. The most recent estimates put the number of homeless veterans
at about 58,000.
- The bipartisan 2014 budget awaiting President Barack Obama's signature has provoked a firestorm among veterans groups. They object
loudly to the idea of curbing
the growth of military pension costs. Two-million retirees cost $4.5 billion per
year. Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel says something has to give. Under the current system, only service members
who serve for 20 years are eligible for pensions — about 17 percent of
the current force. The fight is over those who retire from active duty after 20
years, but long
before they reach age 62. Someone who joins the military at age 18 and
stays for 20 years could end
up getting a pension for 40 years or longer. Critics say 40 years of pension for
20 years of work is
overly generous, but retirees say they deserve it for doing risky jobs that are
tough on them and their families, and that the overwhelming majority of Americans
don't volunteer for.
- The Postal Service is finding that what goes up can come down. It won approval
from the Postal Regulatory Commission for a $0.03 increase in the price of a
first class stamp.
But the hike to $0.49 is only temporary. It's designed to help USPS recover the
$2.8 billion worth of mail volume lost between 2008 and 2011. Commissioners say
once that figure is
recovered, the price will drop back. In the meantime, commissioners ordered postal
officials to report quarterly on revenues generated by the price hike.
- The National Security Agency is collecting so much data it's swamping the agency, according to a former employee interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. William Binney retired in 2001 after helping create the very computer code the NSA is using to keep track on worldwide Internet traffic. Documents released by Edward Snowden have confirmed the data overload problem. The NSA is moving ahead on plans to complete a gigantic data center in Utah to house it all.