Friday Morning Federal Newscast – August 20th

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Federal agencies are spending more money to repay student loans for their workers. In a new report, OPM says that agencies spent about $62 million dollars on the repayment program in 2009. That’s up from about $52 million the previous year. The number of feds receiving repayment benefits also increased 23 percent. The program is designed to help agencies recruit and retain top talent.
  • Federal agencies have been warned not to waive rules about conflicts of interest after-the-fact. The Office of Government Ethics has issued a governmentwide memo saying retroactive waivers are not okay. The Washington Times reports the ethics office has learned of several instances where agencies allegedly waived the rules. The memo does not mention specific employees or agencies. But the Times did obtain documents that single out the FDIC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • Homeland Security’s Inspector General is accusing his department of breaking the law. Richard Skinner says that DHS collected more than $200,000 dollars in conference fees that it wasn’t allowed to. According to the IG report, it happened between 2005 and 2007 with collections for the annual Process Control Systems Forum, a conference focused on securing the nation’s computer systems. The department has agreed to transfer the money to the Treasury Department. DHS has since received the legal authority to collect conference fees.
  • The federal deficit will surpass $1.3 trillion dollars, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. CBO says much of the red ink is because of the wounded economy, which has reduced federal revenue and prompted government spending on costly stimulus programs. The projection is $71 billion dollars lower than last year’s level. But still, it’s three times bigger than any other deficit in U.S. history.
  • The Air Force is saving $17 million dollars a year by turning off its PCs at night. That works out to nine cents per day, per computer. With 600,000 machines, even small savings add up, the Air Force found. NextGov reports, use of a standard Microsoft configuration allows centralized shutdown each night, so the practice isn’t left up to users. Also helping save energy: The Air Force has purchased mostly Energy Star-compliant machines.
  • Lawrence Tabak is the new principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health. Tabak has served as the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research from September 2000. He served as acting NIH deputy director in 2009 and most recently as the acting director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiative. Tabak assumes the position held by Dr. Raynard Kington, who is leaving NIH to become the president of Grinnell College in Iowa.
  • The Defense Department is pondering a novel way to attract and keep more physicians and dentists: Paying them more. Kathy Ott, acting deputy undersecretary of Defense for civilian personnel policy, tells Federal Times the new pay plan will be launched this year or early 2011. Pay would be based on market rates and would vary according to the medical specialty. Ott is using a combination of Title 38 authorities available to DOD and VA and General Schedule Title 5 authorities. Ott says physicians are especially needed in remote areas.
  • The Library of Congress will reportedly pay $250,000 dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against a top law librarian. The plaintiff alleges the librarian, now retired, sexually harassed female employees for more than 20 years. Officials say the settlement is not an admission of guilt.

More news links


GAO Grants USAF Expedited KC-X Protest (Aviation Week)

Whooping cranes may return to Louisiana


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** How can the government hire the best and the brightest? Government H-R executives offered their thoughts — and we’ll get details.

** And if you do hire those people, what’s the best way to bring them on-board? We’ll talk to the authors of a book about… Onboarding… And guess what, it is more then just the first few days. We’ll tell how to get do it right.

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