Wednesday morning federal headlines – Feb. 29, 2012

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive host Tom Temin discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • A new study finds agencies can benefit from a more mobile Senior Executive Service. SESers are meant to be a strong leadership corps that moves across federal government. But a study from the Partnership for Public Service finds nearly half of SESers stay in the same position their entire career. The report finds mobility is often seen as punishment instead of a career advancement. It also accuses agencies of “talent hoarding” and not wanting to share their top talent even temporarily. It recommends Congress create incentives for mobility in the SES. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Agriculture Department wants returning warfighters to consider farming or ranching careers. Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Legion to promote agriculture, animal and plant health, and food safety work. Six-million veterans live in rural areas. The American Legion has more than 5,000 posts in rural counties. USDA and the Legion agreed to publicize USDA jobs, education and training programs. They’ll also help veteran-owned companies get USDA contracts. (USDA)
  • The Obama administration has outlined when the FBI, not the military, can retain custody of terrorism suspects. The new law requires military custody for non-U.S. citizen members of al-Qaida or “associated forces” involved in planning or attempting an attack on the United States or its coalition partners, unless the president waives that provision. The new procedures outlined seven circumstances in which the president could place a suspect in FBI, rather than military, custody.(Federal News Radio)
  • Seven people are under arrest, charged with fraud in the largest Medicare-Medicaid scam ever. The arrests followed work by an interagency Medicare-Medicaid fraud team known has HEAT. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the fraudsters might have received $375 million in phony claims. A Texas doctor, Jacques Roy, and his nurse certified 11,000 people as having received home health care from five service providers. Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson credits data analysis tools for helping catch the alleged thieves. (Justice)
  • President Obama issued an executive order creating a new trade office. The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center will be housed in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Ron Kirk, the top trade representative, will appoint the director of the Enforcement Center. Commerce Secretary John Bryson gets to appoint the deputy director. Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community will also designate staff. The center will coordinate U.S. trade rights under international agreements. And it’ll monitor unfair foreign trade practices, particularly by China. (Federal News Radio)
  • Members of Congress think military pay and benefits cutbacks are falling too heavily on uniformed personnel and not enough on civilians. House and Senate Republicans focused on health care premiums at hearings yesterday. The Obama administration’s 2013 budget proposal raises health care premiums for working-age military retirees. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said civilian staff members should also pay more. JoAnn Rooney, DoD’s acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said until last year it had been 14 years since premiums rose for anyone. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service said it avoided spending $34 million and generated another $24 million last year by reducing the amount of energy, water and gasoline it used. It also recycled 215,000 tons of material which saved landfill fees and brought in new revenue. All of this is part of employee-led “green teams.” There are more than 400 of these groups across the country. The Postal Service said it helped decrease spending on supplies by $20 million as compared to 2010. USPS is working toward meeting a series of goals in 2015, including reducing gas usage by 20 percent. (USPS)