Tuesday morning federal headlines – May 22, 2012

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp 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 Federal Communications Commission has named David Turetsky chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Turetsky leaves his job in the private sector as a communications lawyer and partner Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP. He worked on the Telecommunications Act of 1996 while serving as deputy assistant attorney general at Justice during the Clinton Administration. He starts work after Memorial Day. (FCC)
  • The General Services Administration is giving away historic lighthouses to save money. The agency is putting up 12 for groups that promise to take good care of them. GSA chose lighthouses along the Atlantic Seaboard and Great Lakes, and it hopes giving them away will help the government in its quest to cut real estate costs by $1.5 billion. GSA has done this before under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act. Since 2000, it’s given away 84 lighthouses. The agency is giving first choice to state and local governments, non-profits, historic preservation groups and community development organizations. If it can’t find the right group, GSA will auction the lighthouses to the public. (GSA)
  • Letting feds partially retire could save more than $420 million. The Congressional Budget Office has come out with that estimate for a bill to allow phased retirements. Under the plan, a fed could work part time while taking a partial salary and getting part of a civil service retirement annuity. CBO said the bill would save money for agencies, at least in part, because they’d contribute less to employee retirement accounts. The bill has bipartisan support. CBO said the savings would start next year and go through 2022. (CBO)
  • If federal employees are excited about the new Roth TSP, you wouldn’t know it, Federal Times reported. Just four people have started making payments since the option launched on May 7. Reports said TSP management is working to get an updated list of participants. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board expects the number of participants to go up in the coming weeks. The Roth option lets feds invest after-tax dollars that, unlike traditional contributions, won’t be taxed later when they’re withdrawn. (Federal Times)
  • Agency leaders may think that they’ve trimmed the fat from their budgets, but the Office of Management and Budget said they’ve got to keep on a fiscal diet. A new OMB memo directs agencies to reduce their budgets by another 5 percent in fiscal 2014, even if Congress moves to stop the planned across-the-board cuts known as sequestration. But the memo contains a hopeful note: OMB is telling agencies to give it a list of programs that have been cut in the order in which they should be revived if funds become available. (Federal News Radio)
  • Integrated e-health records are moving a little closer to becoming reality for Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department. The two departments are installing EHR technology at hospitals in San Antonio and Hampton Roads, Va. They plan to do it by 2014. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the goal is an integrated EHR system for all of DoD and VA by 2017. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said when it’s completed, it will be the world’s largest. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Secret Service prostitution scandal is making other agencies question what their employees are doing abroad. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Colombia. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said they’ve told her about it and said at least two DEA agents apparently were in the habit of taking female masseuses to their apartments. Those masseuses were foreign nationals. Meanwhile, the Secret Service has put another employee on administrative leave, bringing the total to 13 agents implicated in the Cartagena incident. Lawmakers have raised concerns that such actions could compromise national security. (Federal News Radio)

    The embattled head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it’s time to go. Gregory Jaczko said he would leave his post once a replacement was confirmed. Fellow NRC commissioners have accused Jaczko of being a bully. Congress took note of the feud and pro-industry lawmakers also criticized Jaczko for his opposition to a proposed nuclear waste site in Nevada. Jaczko did not cite the disputes in his resignation letter. Instead, he said he plans to ensure public safety in a different forum. (Federal News Radio)

  • A new report underscores the Pentagon’s problem in rooting fake products out of its supply chain. The Senate Armed Services Committee recorded 1,800 cases of fake parts over two years. They included electronics in the Air Force’s largest cargo plane, Special Operations helicopters and Navy surveillance planes. Senators said the Defense Department and its contractors should be more aggressive in rooting out bogus electronics. The committee leaders are pushing for new laws that put more pressure on contractors to detect and avoid using counterfeit parts and pay for replacing them in military equipment. (Federal News Radio)