Tuesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 23, 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.

  • As the winter heating season settles in, the Energy Department finds itself in a tangle with the fireplace industry, specifically, makers of fake logs that use gas to produce flames. They’re inflamed at the possibility of federal regulation of their products. The Wall Street Journal reports, one company has spent $20,000 to fight DoE. At issue is whether the fireplace sets are marketed as sources of heat or simply decorative. If heat sources, they are subject to regulation. Energy said it has no immediate plans to regulate gas consumption by the devices. But it claims the authority to do so. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • If you need a federal fact, you may want to check the State Department’s website. Or try DHS.gov, the Homeland Security Department’s site. State and DHS came in first and second in a General Services Administration-supported report on federal websites. Researchers looked at 75 government websites. They separated the sites into three categories: Learning portals, ike State and DHS’ sites; sites that visitors use to interact with agencies, the IRS’ site falls into that category; and portals like USA.gov, which link to other sites. Criteria included per-visit numbers, appearance and how easy the sites are to navigate. (HowTo.gov)
  • More federal employees are choosing the Roth option for their Thrift Savings Plan accounts. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said more than 51,000 people have put money into the Roth option. Under Roth, an employee deposits after-tax dollars, which he or she retrieves tax-free after retirement. The total number of Roth participants rose 28 percent compared to the end of August. The Roth TSP option first became available in May. (TSP.gov)
  • The Food and Drug Administration is making public a list of all doctors and clinics who received steroid injection products from New England Compounding Center. Some of the injections were found to be contaminated with a meningitis-causing fungus that has killed 23 people. The information is available by state and by customer name. It lists specific products shipped, shipping date and quantities. The FDA cautions, the information was provided by New England Compounding itself. So the agency isn’t guaranteeing its accuracy or completeness. (FDA)