Monday morning federal headlines – Nov. 26, 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.

  • Employee satisfaction across the federal government is sagging. Figures from the 2012 Employee Viewpoint Survey show less happiness with pay, with the agency and with supervisors than a year earlier. The survey is conducted annually by the Office of Personnel Management. OPM director John Berry cites budget-related stresses on public servants as lowering job satisfaction. For the latest survey, OPM had its biggest sample ever. Nearly 700,000 employees responded to the survey, which was sent to 1.6 million. Only 59 percent said they were satisfied with their pay, down four points from a year earlier. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is claiming victory in the battle to lower improper payments. Controller Danny Werfel said that in the last three years, the federal government avoided making $47 billion in overpayments. He said the government’s error rate dropped from a high of 5.4 percent in Fiscal Year 2009 to 4.3 percent last year. Werfel made the claims in a blog post just before Thanksgiving. He said error rates dropped in Medicare Fee-For-Service, Medicaid and in the Agriculture Department’s food stamps program. DoD avoided tens of billions in overpayments in commercial contracts over the same period, according to the blog post. (Federal News Radio)
  • Next year’s Congress will have nine freshmen who are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Among them is Tammy Duckworth, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs during President Obama’s first term. Duckworth lost both legs while piloting a helicopter in Iraq that was hit with a grenade launcher in 2004. Veterans in Congress have been declining since the mid-1970s, when 400 of the 535 members were vets. Now only 100 members are veterans. The new class includes a former combat surgeon, chaplain, infantry platoon leader and judge advocate. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal employee union and the Environmental Protection Agency have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations. That’s prompted the union to call the agency, anti-union. GovExec reports, the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 has asked the Federal Service Impasses Panel to resolve the dispute. The union said it has been trying to negotiate a working conditions contract since May 2010. It accused EPA of delaying tactics and bad-faith bargaining. The Impasses Panel is part of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. (GovExec)
  • A fire at State Department headquarters has injured three workers. A State Department spokeswoman said the fire broke out Saturday morning during routine duct work on the seventh floor. Employees were able to put out the blaze before firefighters arrived, but three people suffered burns. One person sustained life-threatening injuries. The building was temporarily evacuated but has now reopened. (Federal News Radio)