Tuesday morning federal headlines – Sept. 25, 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.

  • Transportation Security Administration officers will start voting on their new contract starting Oct. 1. The American Federation of Government Employees and TSA came to terms last month. Union members have until Nov. 2 to vote the contract up or down. GovExec reports, voting will take place on-site at large airports and by mail for other locations. The contract would change the way officers are evaluated, overhaul policies for leave and shift assignments and boost the yearly uniform allowance. (GovExec)
  • House Republicans are angry with the Labor Department for telling contractors not to scare employees over sequestration-related layoffs. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce said Secretary Hilda Solis owes it an explanation for what it calls “misleading” and “incomplete” guidance. Law requires companies to give their workers two-months notice whenever they expect mass layoffs. But the department has said that would be premature in this case. It said sequestration was not a sure thing, and even under sequestration, some contracts would be fine, while others would take a bigger hit. (House)
  • Two government-focused think tanks are urging the next president to raise federal salaries. They cite the 60 percent of federal workers eligible to retire in the next few years. The recommendation comes in the latest policy memo from the American Society for Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration. They say the government should reduce the disparity between federal and private sector pay. One way is widening the range of salaries available to individuals within their GS category. (ASPA)
  • A bipartisan group of senators say they’re willing to consider a balanced solution to avoid sequestration. They don’t define the word “balanced,” although it usually means a combination of program cuts and tax hikes. In using the word, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) may be breaking with their party’s refusal to consider tax increases. The three sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. They say sequestration would be devastating to the Pentagon but also to the National Institutes of Health, education and other non-defense programs. Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined them on this letter. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Obama administration has sent letters to hospital trade associations. It warns their members not to use electronic medical records to jack up Medicare payments. The letters came from Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Published reports have said some hospitals use online systems to overstate the severity of patient conditions so they get higher payments. Hospitals say Medicare lags in updating its computerized coding system. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office has denied a protest over a governmentwide e-travel contract award. The General Services Administration made the $1.4 billion award to Concur Technologies. It was protested by the incumbent, CWT Sato Travel. CWT said GSA was creating a monopoly. But GAO ruled, the agency was being reasonable and consistent in making a single award. Civilian agencies are required to use GSA’s e-travel system. Federal Times reports, the current contracts end in November 2013. (Federal Times)