Tuesday morning federal headlines – July 24, 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.

  • A program to help service members ease back into civilian life is getting a makeover. President Barack Obama announced a major overhaul of the transition assistance program when he spoke Monday to veterans in Nevada.He described the revamped program as a “reverse boot camp.” Now called Transition GPS, the program offers departing service members more personal help as they apply for jobs or schools or start businesses. Seven agencies contributed to the program’s first major overhaul in nearly 20 years. Every service member has to go through it when they leave the military. (White House)
  • President Barack Obama has signed a law urging agencies to hire veterans. The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act lets veterans skip some mandatory job training if they have relevant military experience. The law requires agencies to treat military training as sufficient to satisfy requirements for federal licenses. It should cut red tape in certain business sectors including aerospace, energy and communications. The bill passed Congress with bipartisan support. Co-sponsor Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said when veterans return from war they shouldn’t have to do battle with bureaucrats. (GovTrack)
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development is planning to test medical smart ID cards that would tie into a patient’s electronic health records in Haiti. According to a request for information, U.S. AID is looking for contractors to carry out the work. The agency says it wants to see if the cards would reduce duplication of patient records and help doctors make more accurate referrals for patients who carry the cards. Cards would include the name, date of birth, address, patient identification number, photo and fingerprints. (U.S. AID)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has been trying to whittle down its backlog of disability claims. But the agency might be swimming against the tide. President Barack Obama told members of the VFW that the agency is processing one million claims per year. Despite that, 1.2 million claims were filed in 2010. And last year the number of claims filed grew to 1.3 million. Now nearly 750,000 claims are waiting to be processed, most waiting months for a decision. The VA’s independent inspector general says the VA must assign more staff and money to process the backlog of disability claims.(Federal News Radio)
  • A new leader will take command of the Defense Intelligence Agency Tuesday. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will succeed Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess Jr., who is retiring after 38 years in the Army. The DIA chief acts as the senior military intelligence advisor to the defense secretary and to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Flynn worked with special forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’ll face the challenge of supporting special operations troops who will remain in Afghanistan after other troops eventually pull out. Flynn published a controversial paper critical of intelligence gathering in Afghanistan.(Federal News Radio)
  • There’s now a report summarizing other reports that scrutinize whether federal employees are paid better than private-sector workers. The bottom line is you probably shouldn’t worry about it. The Government Accountability Office reviewed six reports that compared the pay of federal and private-sector workers and found the reports used different methods to crunch the numbers. The conservative Cato Institute found federal employees earned 58 percent more than other workers. But the President’s pay agent found federal workers earn 28 percent less. House Oversight Committee leaders, who have proposed extending the federal pay freeze and reducing benefits, requested the report.(Federal News Radio)