Monday morning federal headlines – Nov. 12, 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.

  • At least one powerful senator is asking why members of Congress didn’t know in advance about what was going on with CIA Director David Petraeus. He resigned late Friday after a long-running extramarital affair came to light. The FBI was investigating allegedly threatening emails that it discovered came from an account owned by Petraeus and his girlfriend, Paula Broadwell. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She said the news came like a lightning bolt. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wonders why knowledge of the months-long investigation didn’t come to light until just after the presidential election. (Federal News Radio)
  • All those part-time FEMA employees helping to rebuild areas struck by Hurricane Sandy now have one less thing to worry about: health care. The Office of Personnel Management Friday made them eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. OPM said many of the 3,000 FEMA workers responding to Sandy work intermittent schedules.That makes them ineligible for FEHBP. FEMA has two months to apply to OPM for a waiver. This decision builds upon OPM’s actions in July, when it let temporary federal firefighters access the health benefits program. (OPM)
  • Federal employees can donate their unused annual leave to colleagues struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy. President Barack Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management to establish an emergency-leave transfer program. It’s up to agencies to decide who qualifies and how much leave they should get. Then they can organize leave transfers between employees. But if an agency does not have enough donated leave from its own workers, it can ask OPM for help. OPM said it will solicit and coordinate transfers among agencies as needed. (White House)
  • It’s OK to wear that Obama cap now or even a Romney T-shirt. The Office of Special Counsel said that doesn’t violate the Hatch Act. The election isn’t over, technically, until the president is sworn in. But the office said it was so unlikely than any political maneuvering would change the election outcome now that it was OK for feds to bring their political paraphernalia out of the closet. That only goes so far, though. Feds still can’t display items that show support or opposition for any political party. (OSC)
  • The Commerce Department is getting a new deputy chief information officer. Kirit Amin is heading over to Commerce from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At Commerce, he’ll also be chief technology officer. He’ll start Nov. 19 and report to CIO Simone Szickman. Amin joined HUD in February after leaving the State Department. He was CIO of the Bureau of Consular Affairs for five years but left after making public comments about the foreign service. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employee and veterans groups are coming out loud against legislative proposals they believe would lower cost-of-living adjustments. They’re against a COLA calculation known as the chained CPI. A spokesman for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association said the chained method would curtail Social Security payments by $1,000 over the next few years. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also opposes the change. It was first proposed by the bipartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and endorsed by the president’s commission on deficit reduction. (Federal News Radio)
  • Transportation Security Administration airport screeners overwhelmingly ratified their first-ever labor contract with the agency. The vote was 10 to 1 in favor. The agreement covers 45,000 officers. It was negotiated after the officers elected the American Federation of Government Employees last year to represent them. AFGE president J. David Cox said the agreement will mean better working conditions and a fairer performance evaluation process. The contract also raises the annual uniform allowances. (Federal News Radio)