Wednesday morning federal headlines – Nov. 28, 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.

  • If the winter weather turns nasty, here’s one sentence you’re going to hear a lot: Federal offices are closed-Emergency and telework ready employees must follow their agency’s policies. That’s the new operating status language the Office of Personnel Management has adopted for severe weather emergencies. OPM updated the language after confusion during the Hurricane Sandy episode. OPM has also updated its dismissal and closure procedures. (Federal News Radio)
  • Thrift Savings Plan managers say federal retirement accounts can withstand another debt-ceiling showdown. The government is on track to reach its borrowing limit at the end of next month but could postpone default for a few more months by using emergency measures. It can tap into federal pensions or temporarily stop investing in them. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department suspended investments in the G-Fund as Congress debated raising the debt ceiling. But the law requires Treasury to repay with interest. GovExec reports the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board says the process does operate smoothly. (GovExec)
  • President Obama has signed legislation giving new protections to federal whistleblowers. The Office of Special Counsel says it is ready to implement the new reforms. For the first time, whistleblower protection extends to Transportation Security Administration screeners. The new law makes it easier to punish supervisors who try to retaliate against whistleblowers. It gives special protection to government scientists who claim censorship. And now whistleblowers have the right to challenge the consequences of government policy decisions. They also gain the right to communicate with Congress. (Federal News Radio)
  • The largest federal employees’ union says political leaders should worry about federal workers’ attitudes. The American Federation of Government Employees said agency budget cuts and pay freezes “have become too much to bear.” The recent federal employee viewpoint survey showed employees’ morale had dipped over the past year. Feds are less likely to recommend their agencies as good places to work. Many doubt they can move up the career ladder based on merit alone. AFGE said agencies should address morale through talks with their union chapters. It said the Office of Personnel Management should reinvigorate labor-management forums. (AFGE)
  • The General Services Administration has launched a new website showing sales for its governmentwide acquisition contracts. The dashboard lets viewers see which agencies are using which of five GWACs, and how much they’re spending. It also shows sales by individual contractors. GSA the GWAC dashboard helps agencies find sources and helps industry know where the opportunities are. It contains data going back to 2004. The site is optimized for Explorer 8 and 9 using Flash Player version 14.4. That means you can’t view it on an iPad. (GSA)