Thursday morning federal headlines – June 14, 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The president of the National Association of Letter Carriers has proposed a panel to help the Postal Service work smarter. Fredric Rolando told GovExec the panel would include agency stakeholders who would propose and vet ideas for new revenue streams. He said the panel would not resemble the commission proposed by House Republicans. He said current legislation doesn’t do enough to explore new revenue streams, like partnerships with banks, pharmacies and other government services. NALC represents 200,000 mail carriers and has lost about a quarter of its employees in the last two years. (GovExec)
  • Racy emails are fueling a partisan battle over President Barack Obama’s pick for Iraq envoy. Six Republican senators warned Obama to withdraw the nomination. They said Brett McGurk acted inappropriately while working at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad during the Bush administration. The emails revealed McGurk had an affair with a journalist and joked about giving her sensitive information. They have since married. The White House said it was sticking with McGurk, who has a long history working in Iraq. The current ambassador to Iraq, James Jeffrey, and two predecessors have endorsed him. (Federal News Radio)
  • It’s an age-old question. Who’s paid better, federal or private sector employees. It turns out, the question may not be answerable in any meaningful way. Experts now say, the answer depends on the research method used. The Federal Salary Council used a job-to-job comparison. It said federal employees are 26 percent behind their counterparts in business. But economists used something called the human capital model. It showed public sector workers were better paid. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force launched a color-coded healthy eating campaign in its Ramstein, Germany base. Green flags point airmen toward more nutritious offerings. Yellow means caution. Red is reserved for corned beef hash and other food that the Air Force Services’ food service euphemistically calls “performance-limiting.” The campaign is urging service members to “go for green.” (Air Force)
  • The President’s nominee to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission promised to restore harmony. Allison Macfarlane told senators, she would work to make NRC more transparent and pleasant. Outgoing chairman Gregory Jaczko was accused by fellow commissioners of being a rude bully. In her confirmation hearing, Macfarlane pledged a strong committment to collegiality at all levels. She’s an associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University in Fairfax. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) reintroduced wartime contracting legislation to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in overseas contingency operations. This time, they’ve got bipartisan support. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) pointed to a $900 bill that a contractor sent the Defense Department for a $7 control switch. She said peace depends on well-executed wartime contracting. The legislation builds on recommendations by the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would require a contractor accused of wrongdoing to be referred to a suspension and debarment official, but it would not require an automatic suspension. (Congressional Quarterly)
  • Innovations developed by federal executives allocating stimulus money are here to stay. That’s according to a new report by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. It said that since the Recovery Act required that stimulus money be spent quickly there was concern a lot of that money could be wasted. Federal managers had to develop new models for program design, implementation and transparency to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. The report pulled together the best actions taken in hopes they would be applied in the future. (IBM)
  • President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order today to cut the costs of building broadband by up to 90 percent. The White House said agencies would have to adopt a uniform approach for letting broadband carriers build networks on or through their properties. It singled out seven large departments, including Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Postal Service. It said they would have to post leasing information on their websites, and will track the progress of regional broadband projects. The cost savings would come when carriers time their construction activities to coincide with periods when streets are already under construction. (White House)
  • For decades, the watchword in the nation’s national parks was, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.” In Yosemite Valley, rangers are yelling “Duck!” The National Park Service announces today the closing of certain housing facilities and campgrounds. Rangers worry, falling rocks could injure or kill visitors. Falling boulders are the single biggest force shaping Yosemite Valley these days. The Park Service said Yosemite’s 3,000 foot Glacier Point is especially unstable. (Federal News Radio)