Tuesday morning federal headlines – March 20, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The White House is crowdsourcing ideas for helping federal employees with disabilities. It’s seeking input on Section 508, the law requiring agencies to provide the disabled with accessible technology. The Office of Management and Budget launched an IdeaScale webpage to accept comments until April 9. OMB already led listening sessions with the federal Access Board, advocacy groups and agency 508 coordinators. It wants to develop a set of concepts for how to improve the 20-year-old law.The Justice Department is expected to issue the results of a governmentwide survey about how agencies are following Section 508 rules. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army is asking industry for help in how to get more mobile devices into the hands of service members. For 10 years, it’s been using only Blackberries. Those were the only devices that could meet the Army’s strict security requirements. Maj. Gen. Steve Smith, cybersecurity chief for the Army CIO, said the Army wants to move to a bring-your-own-device model. But that requires fast security certification, something the Army can’t yet do. He said it took months to approve an Android device. But by the time it was certified, Dell had stopped making it. (Federal News Radio)
  • What exactly did happen to the famed flyer Amelia Earhart? Now even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants to know. Clinton is meeting with historians and scientists today from the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery. That group is planning a June search for Earhart’s plane, which disappeared 75 years ago. Researchers believe it crashed on or near the South Pacific island of Nikumaoro. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were attempting an around-the-world flight. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senior Corps will increase its involvement with VA hospitals. The VA’s Voluntary Service signed an agreement with the Corporation for National and Community Service, which operates the Senior Corps program. Senior Corps sends volunteers over the age of 55 to help veterans and other groups, and recruits senior veterans as volunteers. Now the two groups plan to increase the number of participants in their exchange program. This year, CNCS volunteers will spend 35,000 hours helping veterans and their families. (CNCS)
  • Federal agencies may have spent as much as $850 million on raises last year, the first year of the pay freeze. Federal Times reported big raises came through career ladder promotions. That’s when employees jump a whole General Schedule rank. It can net them raises of up to $10,000. One-thousand-and-eight employees received career ladder promotions, which represented a third of all promotions and a big jump since 2008. (Federal Times)
  • Federal watchdogs found problems with how agencies disposed of electronics. The Government Accountability Office said the agencies it reviewed had inconsistent data about how they do it. So it was hard to know whether they were disposing of technology in a way that was safe for health and the environment. GAO also found many agencies had inconsistent definitions of environmentally-safe practices. The federal government disposes of an estimated 10,000 computers per week. A lot of those electronics have elements that could be harmful. (GAO)
  • Finding information about federal workplace disputes just got easier. The Federal Labor Relations Authority has started putting case decisions from Administrative Law Judges online. It’s also added RSS feeds. This is part of a string of enhancements aimed at giving people more access to federal labor dispute information. (FLRA)
  • House Republicans are releasing a 2013 budget plan today that could produce even bigger spending cuts. The plan is expected to reduce agency operating budgets below levels negotiated last summer. Many of the $19 billion in cuts would hit the departments of Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development. Republicans also wanted House committees to scrub programs for savings that could prevent $100 billion in automatic spending cuts next year. Those cuts are set to happen, because of Congress’ failed attempt last year to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. (Federal News Radio)