Wednesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Some young veterans working for minimum wage at the Veterans Affairs Department have been getting paid late. They say that can put a strain on their budgets. The vets are in a program that lets them work part time at VA while also attending college. VA says the late paychecks result from a staff shortage at the department’s St. Louis processing center. It says replacement staff is on the way. Checks are supposed to arrive a week after the employees submit their time sheets. Some 10,000 vets participate in the program, at a cost of about $25 million last year. (Federal News Radio)
  • It’s business as usual at the Postal Service, at least until March. The prediction comes from an independent regulator examining the agency’s dire financial straits. Postal Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Ruth Goldway told Federal Times that even without Congress’ help, the Postal Service can operate without disruption until at least midway through fiscal 2013. The Postal Service has used up its $15 billion line-of-credit with the Treasury Department. That means it has to fund operations with current revenue. (Federal Times)
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will receive a $42 million legal settlement from International Paper Company. It’s one of the largest recoveries FDIC will make out of bank failures caused by the 2008 housing crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported International Paper wasn’t connected with the housing collapse. But it had the bad luck to acquire a company that once owned Guaranty Financial Group. Guaranty failed because its housing portfolio was stuffed with toxic assets. And it was part of a lawsuit brought on behalf of FDIC and other creditors. International Paper decided to settle. The other creditors get $38 million. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Lawmakers are fleshing out plans to avert sequestration in January. Reuters reported Sens. Mark Warner (D- Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) are leading talks among the so-called “gang of eight.” Warner said a solution would require extra revenue and entitlement cuts. Chambliss said there was no silver bullet. He told financial analysts at a conference in New York: the period between November and January will be “a very tough political slugfest.” Meanwhile, some lawmakers are floating a plan to replace sequestration with more targeted cuts of about half the current amount, about $55 billion. (Reuters)
  • The Office of Management and Budget is tightening the screws on agency technology spending. Acting Director Jeff Zients estimated agencies would save $2.5 billion over the next three years. They’ll do it by using more strategic sourcing, stopping troubled projects and reducing duplication. He said recent review sessions, called portfolio stats, have revealed 13 types of investments ripe for savings. (Federal News Radio)
  • House members are asking government auditors to clarify whose responsible for regulating compounding pharmacies. The request by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and John Tierney (D- Mass.) is just the latest attempt to understand what some have called “a regulatory black hole.” The two Democrats have sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office. They want GAO to identify gaps between state’s authorities to regulate the industry and the Food and Drug Administration’s power to do so. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has called for an investigation of the New England Compounding Center, the pharmacy at the center of the meningitis outbreak. (House)