Thursday morning federal headlines – Jan. 10, 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 struggling Postal Service is celebrating a lighter payroll. Federal Times reports more than 26,000 postal clerks and drivers have taken the buyout offered to members of the American Postal Workers Union. That’s about a sixth of the employees eligible and more than the Postal Service had hoped for. The workers are retiring early with $15,000 as a bonus. Most of them were already eligible to retire. The Postal Service says it’s losing $25 million a day and labor is its biggest cost. (Federal Times)
  • The FCC is thinking about your online experience in places like parks, town squares and convention centers. It plans to divert a new chunk of unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi use to head off future bottlenecks. Chairman Julius Genachowski announced those plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Wi-Fi users will share the spectrum with the Defense Department and other federal agencies. Genachoswki said the FCC will start proceedings next month. The spectrum in question falls in the 195 megahertz range. It will increase Wi-Fi capacity by about 35 percent. (FCC)
  • Here’s a quiz. What book is longer than the Bible and way more confusing? Here’s a hint. All Americans have until April 15 to do what it says. That’s right, it’s the U.S. tax code. The IRS Taxpayer Advocate says this year, taxpayers and their helpers will spend 6 billion hours trying to comply with the tax code. Nina Olsen says that’s the equivalent of 3 million people working full time. She says if tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the biggest in the United States. Members of Congress have brayed about the tax code, but so far they haven’t agreed on what to do about it. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Social Security Administration owes black employees millions of dollars in back pay. Federal Times reports, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has upheld an earlier ruling. Under it, Social Security must pay all black men who worked at the Baltimore headquarters between 2003 and 2005 the estimated bonuses and step increases they should have gotten. The ruling stems from a 15-year-old class-action discrimination lawsuit. Lawyers for the men say a follow-up investigation found Social Security had violated terms of that suit. They said as many as 2,000 current and former employees could be affected. The agency will appeal before an administrative judge. (Federal Times)
  • The enforcement director at the Securities and Exchange Commission said he plans to leave the agency. Robert Khuzami has launched a record number of enforcement actions in his four years at the SEC. In 2011 and 2012, they totalled nearly 1,500. He brought record numbers of cases against insider trading and crooked financial advisors. A former prosecutor, Khuzami was a member of the team that brought down Omar Ahmed Ali Abdel Rahman. That’s the blind sheik who planned the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Khuzami departs only a month after SEC chairman Mary Schapiro announced her resignation. (SEC)
  • The Office of Management and Budget said Congress requires too many reports from agencies. OMB wants to cut or consolidate them or have agencies do them less often. It’s got a list of 376 altogether. There are reports on reports. There are reports on programs that were never funded. And there are others that restate information already available on agencies’ websites or in other reports. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is on board. He says he’ll work with his colleagues on Capitol Hill to get rid of those he says are sitting on a shelf collecting dust. (Federal News Radio)
  • The transformation of the Obama cabinet continues with the resignation announcement of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. She says she wants to return to California and run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. A White House official named three cabinet secretaries who will stay: Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services, Eric Shinseki of VA and Attorney General Eric Holder at Justice. Some Democratic women voiced concerns that the big three cabinet jobs of State, Defense and Treasury will be taken by white men. The president has nominated Senator John Kerry, former Sen. Chuck Hagel and White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew to those slots. (Federal News Radio)