Monday morning federal headlines – July 9, 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.

  • More federal employees eligible to telework are doing it. The newest report from the Office of Personnel Management is the first since President Obama signed the Telework Enhancement Act in December 2010. It shows 25 percent of eligible federal employees report working outside the office at least once a week. That means on a given day, more than 40,000 are teleworking. In 2009, only 10 percent of eligible employees teleworked. OPM Director John Berry said key to boosting telework was making sure eligible employees were aware they had the option to stay out of the office. A third of the federal government’s workforce is eligible. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Affordable Care Act may be a boon or a curse for the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has had to cut staff to match its shrinking budget. But in 2-1/2 years, taxpayers will have to start reporting whether or not they have health insurance on their tax returns. The IRS will administer tax breaks and incentives to help pay for health insurance. It also will impose penalties on some people who don’t buy it. The agency may have to hire back thousands of workers to handle its new tasks. The IRS inspector general said the health care law includes the largest set of tax-law changes in more than 20 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Obama administration is taking a committee approach to making sure the government communicates during a national emergency. A new executive order creates a new group called the Executive Committee on National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications. The committee will consist of assistant secretary level people from eight departments and agencies. The Homeland Security and Defense secretaries will be the co-chairs. But the Office of Science and Technology Policy will set the annual agenda. DHS has the job of revamping the National Communications System. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration is zeroing in on copier and printing costs. It plans to expand a blanket purchase agreement for managing hard copy production as a service. A new request for information asks contractors for ways to manage copier and printer maintenance, repair, just-in-time delivery of supplies and monthly usage reports. GSA even coined a new term: print output environment. At least part of the new BPA will be set aside for small business. Last year, GSA awarded 11 vendors spots on its Printwise blanket purchase agreement. GSA estimates Printwise will save agencies $600 million over four years. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama signed the so-called “highway bill” on Friday. But the new law includes much more than just transportation funding. It also keeps interest rates for student loans at 3.4 percent. It also opens up a partial retirement plan for some federal employees and orders the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up its plan to combat Asian carp in the Great Lakes region. The bipartisan bill sailed through Congress last week after pressure from students and recent graduates who face a doubling of their interest rates. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal inspectors general are turning their microscope on one of their own. USA Today reported a panel of IGs is looking into complaints against Interior Department Inspector General Mary Kendall. They’ll meet on Thursday to consider accusations made by three Gulf-Coast lawmakers. The Republican senators said Kendall may have helped draft a research paper supporting a moratorium on deepwater drilling. The White House produced the paper following the BP oil spill in 2010. The lawmakers said Kendall was then called on to investigate whether the administration had edited the report to change the scientists’ findings. Kendall said she did nothing wrong. (USA Today)