Tuesday morning federal headlines – Jan. 15, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The White House is telling agency managers to intensify their planning for sequestration budget cuts, even if it means hiring freezes, early retirements and buy-outs to cut the workforce. Agencies should also review grants and contracts. That advice comes in the form of a memo from acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeff Zients. Congress delayed the sequester until March 7. If it does nothing else, civilian agencies will have to find $42 billion in savings during fiscal 2013. Zients also reiterated the White House will be late in submitting its 2014 budget request, normally due in early February. (Federal News Radio)
  • Dan Tangherlini, the acting administrator of the General Services Administration, writes like he’s planning to stick around. The president has not nominated Tangherlini for the permanent post. But in a blog, Tangherlini lays out GSA’s priorities for the coming year and beyond. He wants the agency to deliver better savings to the government and expand opportunities for small business. Tangherlini came in last April, following the departure of Martha Johnson. She left under a cloud when GSA’s inspector general found wasteful spending at GSA conferences. (Federal News Radio)
  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geither is warning lawmakers that they may have only until mid-February to raise the federal borrowing limit. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Geithner says by next month or early March at the latest Treasury will have exhausted the “extraordinary measures” that it’s been using to avoid a default. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama yesterday said failure to raise the debt ceiling could delay veterans’ benefits, military paychecks and federal contracts. While that could happen, the administration would have some discretion in which bills to pay. (Treasury/White House)
  • A long-time IT executive is returning to her job overseeing the federal market. IBM has named Anne Altman general manager of IBM’s U.S. Federal Government business, according to Washington Technology. She takes over from Todd Ramsey, who is retiring. Altman has spent 32 years with IBM so far. Most recently she was general manager of its global public sector business. She led the company’s server hardware business when IBM introduced its System Z mainframes, which run open source software. In an earlier stint running U.S. Federal, she helped re-establish IBM’s federal presence after an absence. Altman regularly testifies in Congress about military, healthcare and intelligence technology. (Washington Technology)
  • Two cabinet secretaries have decided to stick around for President Obama’s second term. A spokesman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s accepted the president’s offer to stay. The former Iowa governor will concentrate on convincing Congress to pass a farm bill. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is also staying, according to sources. The former Chicago schools superintendent is a regular basketball buddy of the president. Duncan’s Race to the Top program encourages school districts to compete for federal grants. (Federal News Radio)
  • Are longer post-office lines in your future? The Postal Service’s Board of Governors is directing the agency to speed up restructuring initiatives to cut costs. But an agency statement does not describe what those steps may be. Meanwhile, arbitrators have finalized a new contract between the postal service and its letter carriers. It includes modest pay raises and a no-layoff clause. But new letter carriers would start at a lower wage and all would have to pay more for health care. The agency lost nearly $16 billion last year. (USPS)