Monday morning federal headlines – Jan. 21, 2013

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.

  • The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest update on its 787 battery fire investigation shows just how detailed things get. The battery from a Japan Airlines 787 went to the NTSB’s materials laboratory. Investigators X-rayed it, CAT scanned it, then disassembled it and examined each cell. Cells will be cut open to see what happened inside. The board said the flight recorder data shows the battery was not overcharged. The Wall Street Journal reports, another smoking battery on All Nippon Airlines was overcharged, meaning the two events might have different causes. (NTSB/The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Office of Personnel Management is reminding agency heads to encourage folks with the flu to stay home. In a memo, Director John Berry said the government has to protect its workforce and ensure continuity of operations. He said workers with the flu should use leave, alternative work schedules or telework if possible. In worst-case scenarios, supervisors can send sick employees home. (CHCOC)
  • The Health and Human Services Department has issued new rules for sharing and privacy of health information. The new final rules make it easier for consumers to receive their own health information electronically. But they impose new restrictions on the health care products industry. And they expand the numbers and types of companies that can be sanctioned for misuse of patient information. The rules fulfill a 2009 law updating the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. The later law promotes electronic health records. (HHS/Federal News Radio)
  • From the hot dogs served on the parade route to the lobster tails at the luncheon, the Food and Drug Administration says go ahead and enjoy. The FDA sent 35 staff members out last week to bolster local health departments in checking inaugural food. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg likened their task to the taste-testers used by Roman emperors to make sure the food wasn’t poisoned. Of course, the regulators today are doing less dangerous things. They’ve collected data on food sources and supply chains just in case something goes wrong. They’ve also reviewed cleanliness and safe food temperatures with kitchen staff, observed food preparation and storage. (HHS/Federal News Radio)
  • House Republican leaders say they plan to vote on a three-month extension of the federal debt ceiling. It doesn’t call for budget cuts in return. That demand would come later. But the proposed bill contains a provision cutting off salaries for members of Congress if the Senate fails to pass a budget resolution. The idea is to force Senate Democrats to debate budget issues. The Senate has not passed a budget in four years. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a Sunday talk show, the Senate will pass a budget this time, but it will also call for still-higher taxes. (Federal News Radio)