Monday morning federal headlines – Feb. 18, 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 Federal Aviation Administration is failing an important oversight role to ensure the safety of regional airlines. That’s according to the Transportation Department’s inspector general. The IG found FAA wasn’t making sure large airlines hold their regional partners to the same safety standards. FAA had promised to do so after the 2009 crash of a regional carrier Colgan Air near Buffalo. Nearly half the daily commercial flights are on so-called feeder airlines. They typically hire pilots with far less experience and training than those hired by the big carriers. The IG found that FAA rarely reviews the agreements between major airlines and their regional partners. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is trying to downplay its draft immigration reform proposal. The document came out as Republicans and Democrats in Congress appear to have found an issue they can cooperate on. But the White House chief of staff said President Obama’s plan is merely a backup in case a bill does not materialize. Obama’s plan would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship within eight years. It also requires employers to know the citizenship status of employees, and it increases funding for border security. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House voted Friday to extend the federal pay freeze through the end of the fiscal year. Republicans supporters said it would save $11 billion. Democratic opponents accused the GOP of anti-government bias and said Congress should be focusing on stopping sequestration. The freeze would affect only raises based on cost-of-living adjustments and not merit or longevity raises. The bill has little chance of making it through the Senate. (Federal News Radio)
  • Roger Baker, the chief information officer of the Veterans Affairs Department, is resigning. Baker led VA’s efforts to use mobile devices and improve the department’s claims-processing system. He was also the first in the Obama administration to use a data-driven review process to cancel, slow down or improve IT projects. During his tenure, VA stopped 45 projects that were behind schedule or over-budget. VA now says it delivers nine out of 10 projects on time. No word yet on what Baker will do next. He previously served at CIO of the Commerce Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • The amount of time federal employees spend working on union activities while on the job is at its highest rate in seven years. Federal employees spent nearly 3.4 million hours on union activity while at work in 2011. That’s up from 3.1 million in 2010. (Federal News Radio)