Friday morning federal headlines – Sept. 23

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.

  • The federal workforce might be battered by a pay freeze, buyouts and negative publicity. But most of its members still like coming to work every day. OPM’s latest Employee Viewpoint Survey shows a majority of federal workers think their work is important and enjoyable, and most say they get plenty of respect from their bosses. Seven in ten would recommend their own agency as a good place to work. More than 265,000 employees responded to the survey. (Federal News Radio)
  • Nearly a third of G.I. Bill education benefits go to for-profit colleges, and now some senators want to know why. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) are all veterans. They say more oversight is needed over the program after Veterans Affairs department released data showing that eight for-profit college chains receive 25 percent of the funds.The senators questioned whether for-profit colleges always deliver on claims that graduates will find work. A spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars said for-profit colleges sometimes have questionable accreditations or use predatory marketing tactics. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House has passed a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown next week. It includes $3.7 billion dollars for disaster relief and deep cuts to energy programs favored by Democrats. House Republicans managed to reverse a no vote that took place earlier this week. But in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the bill has no chance of passage. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has warned the government’s main disaster aid account is “running on fumes” and could be tapped out by early next week. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management has paid more than $600 million to dead annuitants in the last five years, according to a new report from OPM’s Inspector General. The IG said efforts to stop improper payments to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund have not worked. The payments to deceased annuitants averages $120 million a year. OPM has taken a number of steps to address the problem, including an annual computer match against the Social Security Administration’s death records. And the IG said major action has been taken on 10 of it’s 14 recommendations. Areas where OPM can make improvements include tracking undeliverable IRS forms and investing in retirement systems modernization technology. (Federal News Radio)
  • LightSquared says it has fixed the problem. But not everyone is convinced, The Washington Business Journal reports. LightSquared is partnering with Javad GNSS to create a filter technology that will prevent it from interfering with GPS. Members of the GPS industry say LightSquared’s claims are overstated and undertested. The clash between LightSquared and the global positioning systems industry exploded in recent weeks, with allegations of political influence peddling and crony capitalism. (Washington Business Journal)
  • The Obama administration is fighting a lawsuit seeking severance pay for gay service members who were kicked out of the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class action suit for 142 people who only got half-pay after their discharge because they are gay. But the Justice Department is asking the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to dismiss the case. Justice argued the defense secretary has sole power to decide who gets what separation pay and that the court cannot rewrite military regulations. However, the suit argues it is unconstitutional for the DoD to cut the amount for people discharged for homosexuality. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal long-term health care plans had a successful open season — boosting enrollments by 20 percent. Some 45,000 people signed up for long-term health coverage earlier this year. OPM said the results show that aging federal workers are increasingly drawn to long-term care insurance regardless of rate hikes. The open enrollment period was the program’s first since 2002. During that time, people could sign up for coverage by answering fewer health questions than typically asked. The long-term health plans cover feds in the event of a long illness or disability. (Federal News Radio)
  • Smart, innovative people can be super-competitive, and that’s just what the National Cancer Institute is counting on. NCI has $8 million in Small Business Innovative Research grants for businesses that come up with the best cancer treatment ideas. The Washington Business Journal reports the money is for businesses that win work on 12 new contracts for development of cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. (Washington Business Journal)