Wednesday morning federal headlines – Aug. 15, 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.

  • Homeland Security is gearing up for hundred of thousands of applications from young illegal immigrants allowed to stay in the United States. The Obama administration authorized the program, which would have been included in the Dream Act that has not passed Congress. Illegal immigrants who wish to stay need to get passports or equivalent records to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The government estimates nearly a million people are eligible. The deferred action program will cost as much as $585 million, according to documents obtained by AP. But DHS estimates fees will cover much of that cost. (Federal News Radio)
  • Olga Grkavac is retiring as senior vice president of Global Public Sector Government Affairs at TechAmerica. She is being replaced by former senior vice president for national security and procurement policy, Trey Hodgkins. Grkavac has been involved with the association’s Global Public Sector policy team for 31 years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is encouraging agencies to think about giving employees time off for STEM-related activities. Director John Berry said managers should let employees who work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math participate in events aimed at getting young people interested in the fields. On top of leave, Berry said agencies should consider alternative work schedules, comp time and other workplace flexibilities. This is part of the president’s challenge for feds to engage students in STEM fields. OPM is working with the White House and Chief Human Capital Officers Council on a strategy to address STEM skills gaps in the federal workforce. (Federal News Radio)
  • Experienced federal employees who want to take a phased retirement will have to get buy-in from their supervisors. That provision is among the rules issued by the Office of Personnel Management. In a memo detailing how phased retirement works, OPM said both CSRS and FERS employees must be 55-years old with 30 years of service, or 60-years old with 20 years of service. Under phased retirement, employees can work part time without spoiling their annuity. But they agree to mentor and train younger employees. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration has frozen per diem travel rates. In the next fiscal year, the standard rate will stand at $77 a day for lodging and $46 a day for meals and incidental expenses. Higher rates will still apply for expensive cities like New York or Los Angeles. Federal News Radio has learned, GSA will add 10 more non-standard cities in 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was worried hotel rates were too low and left out some mid-range hotels. GSA said it was following White House orders to cut travel spending 30 percent next year. (Federal News Radio)
  • Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn plans major investment in personnel as the new director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. In an open letter to those serving under him, he said he wanted to strengthen “human intelligence collection against strategic defense targets growing more difficult to penetrate, while fully incorporating counterintelligence.” Flynn started his new position last month. (Federal News Radio)