Tuesday morning federal headlines – May 29, 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.

  • Homeland Security leaders are trying to reassure Congress they’re making progress against corruption. At a House hearing, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) cited inspector general reports about bribe-taking and smuggling by TSA and Customs and Border Protection agents. But officials said polygraph tests and extensive background checks head off the hiring of crooks. James Duncan, TSA’s deputy administrator for professional responsibility, said that since 2009, more than 5,000 applications have been rejected after background checks. A CPB official said repeated polygraphs throughout an agent’s career would help weed out bad actors. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service is offering an early retirement and buy-out deal to the tune of $15,000. It announced the deal on Friday after in-depth discussions with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. Employees who take the deal would receive half the money this December, and the other in December 2013. Sign-up closes on July 2. USPS hopes to shed 45,000 employees in this round of buyouts. It will also offer buyouts to all of its 21,000 postmasters and planned to close 230 processing plants. (Federal News Radio)
  • TSP officials said that, so far, no data have been misused, following a security breach that exposed personal information of more than 120,000 federal workers. But that doesn’t mean the threat is over. So the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is adding extra monitoring of the accounts that were exposed and has launched a task force to review security procedures. The board has taken heat for not contacting those who may be affected until now, despite their learning about the breach five weeks ago. But the board said that was just how long it took to figure out whose Social Security and account numbers were stolen. (Federal News Radio)
  • Two female officers are suing the Pentagon to open combat positions to women. The plaintiffs, both in the Army Reserve, said the policy has hurt their careers. They said the ban puts women at a disadvantage in terms of pay and retirement benefits too. The suit noted that female soldiers served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan but not officially. It said the Army attached them to combat units rather than assigning them. The Defense Department is opening up 14,000 combat roles previously reserved for men, but nearly a quarter-million frontline jobs remain closed to female warriors. (Federal News Radio)
  • The federal government is struggling to meet its goal of hiring 100,000 disabled workers within the next three years. A new Government Accountability Office report said a lack of preparation, knowledge and training existed at many agencies. Even agencies with leaders committed to the cause said funding constraints could hurt their progress. But the report said the Office of Personnel Management shared some blame. OPM was still developing mandatory training programs two years after President Barack Obama issued his executive order directing agencies to set the example for all employers. (GAO)
  • An increasing number of career senior executives said SES pay and benefits weren’t helping to attract or retain top-tier candidates. In fact, six out of 10 senior executive service members said they would retire within five years. The Office of Personnel Management surveyed members as part of an effort to restore the SES as an elite cadre of government managers. But it found respondents were more down on pay, bonuses and recognition than in the last survey, which was taken before the federal pay freeze. Four in 10 questioned whether the pay-for-performance rules actually helped their agency work better. (Federal News Radio)