Wednesday morning federal headlines – March 14, 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.

  • Federal managers gave OPM director John Berry an earful Tuesday, during a question-and-answer session at the Federal Managers Association meeting in Arlington, Va. Those who managed but were not in the Senior Executive Service said they felt left out of important decision making. They were especially miffed at not being part of the labor-management forums revived in 2009 by the Obama administration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate said “no” to an amendment that would have extended the federal pay freeze to the end of 2013. Senators voted down the amendment that had been proffered by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). The pay freeze measure was one of 20 amendments to the transportation bill. The Senate last week approved an amendment that would allow retirement-eligible federal employees to begin working part-time while drawing on their annuities. Senators could vote on the Highway Bill itself as early as today. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal contractor executive has pleaded guilty to bribery and kickback charges. Harold F. Babb is the former director of contracts at Eyak Technology, an Alaska native company. According to Justice officials, Babb admitted to bribing Army Corps of Engineers program manager Kerry Kahn. Babb also admitted to taking a $1 million kickback from an Eyak subcontractor. The scheme involved two infrastructure and engineering contracts worth $20 million. Babb was arrested in October. No sentencing date has been set. (Justice Department)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is defending its program to help homeless vets before a Senate committee today. The five-year-plan to end homelessness has been largely considered a success, with some programs exceeding their targets. But investigators Monday said they were worried for the safety of female veterans placed at men-only homeless shelters. The inspector general found sometimes the VA didn’t know women lacked privacy at the shelters. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has invited two homeless female veterans to testify. (Federal News Radio)
  • First there was the Peace Corps, and then AmeriCorps, which brought college grads into classrooms. Now there’s FEMA Corps. FEMA is partnering with AmeriCorps to create the new unit to send young adults to disaster response and recovery efforts for 10 months to two years. Officials said FEMA Corps could inspire young people to consider careers in emergency management, while benefiting survivors and saving money. They said it could save $60 million a year. The five-year agreement allowed for 1,600 members a year. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will consider a plan today that limits lawmakers pay until they pass a budget. Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2009, but many are skeptical that this plan would change things. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted that plenty of senators are so rich they don’t need their paychecks. The bipartisan group No Labels is pitching the idea. The committee will consider other parts of its platform too: It wants to require lawmakers to attend monthly, bipartisan get-to-know-you sessions. (Federal News Radio)
  • A pilot program that lets federal workers decide when and where they would work, as long as they got that work done, is ending. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry told the Federal Times the experiment generated mixed results. About 400 OPM employees participated over the last year and a half. Berry said there wasn’t a big shift in participants’ work product, but supervisors hadn’t laid out their expectations clearly enough and had problems managing the employees from afar. He said OPM didn’t train them well enough at the beginning of the program. (Federal Times)
  • The Defense Manpower Data Center has received an award for an online service that lets military families check their employment benefits. The awards are given out by the industry-government coalition known as ACT-IAC. The group said mil-Connect is easy to use, safe and secure. The group also recognized the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program for its self-check application. The self-check lets workers go online to check their own employment eligibility status. (ACT-IAC)