Thursday morning federal headlines – Jan. 17, 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 American Federation of Government Employees is mourning the loss of one of its leaders here in the Washington, D.C. area. The union said Dwight Bowman died suddenly yesterday morning. He was the national vice president of the 14th District, which includes Maryland, Virginia and the District. He also sat on the National Executive Council. Bowman joined the union nearly 40 years ago when he was working at the Smithsonian. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama said it’s time for the Senate to confirm a permanent head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Senators haven’t done that in more than six years. Obama is nominating ATFE acting director Todd Jones. Jones took over leadership at the agency in the wake of a scandal over a botched gun-tracking program, known as Operation Fast and Furious. He was a marine and a U.S. attorney in Minnesota. The president made his remarks during a press conference on gun control. He announced 23 executive actions to curb gun violence. (Federal News Radio)
  • Some House Republicans do not think feds should get a 0.5 percent pay raise in March. Twenty-eight lawmakers, led by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have introduced legislation to block it. He says it’s an example of unrestrained spending that will cost taxpayers $11 billion over the next decade. Federal unions are rallying against the legislation. NTEU President Colleen Kelley said it’s a line of attack that is an all-too-familiar staple of this Congress. The bill will be considered on the House floor next week. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal employees in the D.C. area can stay in bed a bit longer today. The Office of Personnel Management says non-emergency workers can take “unscheduled leave.” Just notify your supervisor. If you are eligible to telework, you can take “unscheduled telework.” There’s a winter storm watch in effect. Forecasters are predicting up to four inches of snow south of the city but only one to two inches in the D.C. metro area. It could be mixed with sleet or rain and tie up the evening commute. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal unions want more of a say in workplace decisions. They may get their wish in President Barack Obama’s second term. Federal Times reports Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry had some tough words for federal managers reluctant to work with employee unions. He says the election should have resolved any doubts that agency labor-management forums are here to stay. The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations is made up of agency human resources chiefs and union leaders. It has created a task force to study when unions should have input into agency workplace decisions. They’ll focus on the 10 percent of agencies that, Berry said, have been holding back. (Federal Times)
  • So much for the metal can. NASA wants to throw out those aluminum home-away-from-homes that astronauts use in space. It is partnering with Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace to build an inflatable room for the International Space Station. The $18 million test project will create a room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery. It could also provide three times as much space and cost less than the metal modules. If the test is successful, NASA engineer Glen Miller says it could open the door for habitats on the moon and even Mars. (Federal News Radio)