Friday morning federal headlines – Dec. 2, 2011

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.

  • Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are among those being considered for the Postal Service’s first ‘living persons or recently deceased’ postage stamps. Washington Post reports that former president Bill Clinton, comedian Jerry Lewis and Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken have received the most nominations from customers by mail. Customers voting through Twitter and Facebook favor Lady Gaga. The Postal Service waved a rule in September that requires all people on stamps to have been dead at least five years. They’re trying to drum up interest and sales in light of Postal’s financial distress. (Washington Post)
  • The White House plans to launch $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings. But agencies won’t lay out a cent. Instead, they’ll use Energy Savings Performance Contracts. Those put the risk for developing energy-saving technologies onto contractors. Companies get paid when the government uses whatever they install, and the government ends up with lower utility bills. In rolling out the program, deputy OMB director Jeff Zients cited a military base in South Carolina. Contractors installed obsolete air conditioning and lighting systems. Now the base is saving nearly three million dollars every year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta collected a reward for helping hunt down Osama Bin Laden, the Associated Press reports. Last New Year’s Eve, a California restaurant owner promised Panetta he’d open a $10,000 bottle of wine if Panetta could nab the terror leader. Panetta was CIA director at the time. Late last month, the bet was paid. Restauranteur Ted Balestreri presented an 1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. Panetta only got a taste, though. He shared the bottle with a dozen friends. Each was able to keep a souvenir shot class bearing the CIA logo. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House votes today on the second of three bills to curtail federal regulatory agencies, the Associated Press reported. The Regulatory Accountability Act would require agencies to take several steps before issuing new rules. They would have to consider the legalities, the significance of the problem, and reasonable alternatives. The bill would impose tougher cost-benefit analysis. The White House says it will veto the bill should it also pass the Senate. The House already passed a bill to lighten the regulatory burden on small business. Still to come, probably next week, is a bill that would make it easier for Congress to kill regulations. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is still stinging from last winter’s commuting disaster following an afternoon snowstorm. Now it’s taken steps to prevent a rerun. Director John Berry says OPM will make federal office closure decisions earlier. OPM rolls out four options for dealing with extreme weather or disasters such as earthquakes. During the day, OPM can call for staggered departures with or without a deadline. In extreme cases, it can order everyone to leave at once. Or, you might be asked to shelter in place. OPM will provide kits containing water, dried food and a whistle. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Obama’s nominee to head Medicare Services gets unexpected support from one of Congress’ top Republicans, the Associated Press reports. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tells reporters Marilyn Tavenner is “eminently qualified” to run Medicare and that he expected “great things” from her. The White House announced Tavenner’s nomination last week to replace current Medicare chief Donald Berwick. He had run into a wall of opposition from Republicans and couldn’t even get a hearing in the Senate. Tavenner is currently Medicare’s principal deputy administrator. As head of Medicare and Medicaid, the former nurse would head the effort to put in place the new health overhaul law to cover the uninsured. (Associated Press)