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Shows & Panels
Monday - Friday, 6-9 a.m.
Host Tom Temin brings 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 below.
Friday federal headlines - February 7, 2014
Friday - 2/7/2014, 8:33am EST
- The Office of Personnel Management will move final quality reviews for
background investigations in-house. It will assign work now being done
by U.S. Investigative Services to 300 OPM employees. Some of them will work
overtime. Director Katherine Archuleta says she doesn't expect the move to slow
down the approvals. USIS is facing federal charges of fraud. A whistleblower
accused the company of fudging on hundreds of thousands of background checks to
meet deadlines. The company's quality control work ends Feb. 24. (Federal News
- There's no panic about the debt ceiling this time around. The government
technically reaches its borrowing limit today, but the Treasury Department says it
can hold off a default until the end of the month. House Speaker John Boehner
promises his chamber won't let a default happen.
He fights for a clean debt limit measure, minus Tea Party favorites like a mandate
that the White House approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Meanwhile, Treasury
Secretary Jacob Lew employs bookkeeping maneuvers to buy a few weeks' time.
- A Senate committee approves a compromise bill to help the Postal Service. The bill angers some who have
nothing to do with the Postal Service. That's because a provision changes workers'
compensation for all federal employees. Other measures include a timeline for
ending Saturday mail delivery and letting the Postal Service set up its own
health care plan for employees. In a statement, a key sponsor gives a reality
check. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) says the bill is not even halfway to becoming law.
The Postal Service today announces its first-quarter finances. (Federal News
- President Barack Obama signs the farm bill today at Michigan State University.
The bill cuts food stamps by $800 million
a year, or around 1 percent. It gives the Agriculture Department more money to
stop food-stamp trafficking. It prevents lottery winners from receiving food
stamps. While in Michigan, the President will announce a "made in rural America"
export initiative. A draft includes an order that agencies host regional forums
for rural businesses. It instructs the Agriculture Department to train staff in
all 50 states to advise on export opportunities and showcase success stories.
- The Agriculture Department says it will spend $30 million this year to improve forest
ecosystems in 13 locations. The Forest Service will partner with the Natural
Resources Conservation Service, formerly called the Soil Conservation Service.
Robert Bonnie is USDA undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment. He
says the goals of the project are to boost resiliency of forests to wildfires and
to protect water quality. The project will concentrate on areas where forests
intersect private land. Bonnie announced the project in Helena, Mont. That's near
the Red Mountain Flume-Chessman Reservoir, one of the 13 areas. (Department of
- Max Baucus has been confirmed as the next ambassador to China. The
retiring Democratic Senator from Montana received a unanimous yes vote from his
colleagues. He voted present. A senator for 35 years, Baucus championed China's
inclusion in the World Trade Organization. He also sponsored legislation to punish
China for undervaluing its currency. It didn't pass. He's criticized China for
blocking imports of U.S. beef, a big business in Montana. Baucus had already
announced his retirement from the Senate when President Obama nominated him.
- The Marine Corps has received high praise from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
for winning an important battle. It's the first of the armed services to receive
an unqualified financial audit. Hagel lauds the Corps along with
nine other Defense agencies. He quips that it might sound funny to use the
Pentagon's Hall of Heroes to honor a bookkeeping accomplishment. He cited the
Marines for consolidating 790 financial processes into 59, making transactions
traceable from beginning to end. Hagel also praised the Pentagon's outgoing
comptroller, Robert Hale. The Army, Navy and Air Force have yet to produce a clean
audit. Their deadline is 2017. (Defense Department)
- The Defense Contract Audit Agency and the American Federation of Government
Employees sign the agency's first-ever agency-wide contact. AFGE says it covers
3,200 employees in five regions. Before formation of a national bargaining
council, AFGE covered about 1,300 employees in two regions. Union President J.
David Cox calls yesterday's Fort Belvoir signing a historic day for DCAA. Most of
the covered employees are accountants and auditors. The unit also covers clerks,
technicians and administrative support staff. AFGE Council 162 President Jim
Galler says the new contract establishes a labor-management forum at DCAA. It
already had its first meeting. (American Federation of Government Employees)
- Cold War-era spying meets the Internet. Add in loose lips, and you've got an
international mess. Someone recorded a private conversation between two senior
American diplomats in which they revealed frustrations about European allies.
Victoria Nuland, the top diplomat to Europe, used not-so-nice language. She has
apologized. U.S. officials suspect Russia
leaked the conversation. The State Department says it marks a new low in Russian
tradecraft. (Associated Press)