Friday morning federal headlines – March 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The 2014 Senate budget resolution has the stamp of a local senator. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced three amendments that were passed unanimously in the otherwise divided Budget Committee. One amendment supports legislation to help the Office of Personnel Management speed up processing of federal employee retirement claims. Another supports the beefing up of federal websites that report where the government spends money. And a third would trim the number of reports agencies are compelled to submit to Congress each year. Savings would be applied to the deficit. (Federal News Radio)
  • Labor unions want feds to dig up some bullhorns and banners to protest sequestration. The American Federation of Government Employees expects about 100 rallies to take place nationwide Tuesday. The group says it is targeting federal agencies and lawmakers’ offices. They want Congress to repeal the budget cuts altogether. State employees’ unions and other labor groups are participating. AFGE said it was worried about sequestration’s trickle-down effect on local economies. Around here, the groups have planned protests outside the Labor Department and at Fort Meade, Md. (AFGE)
  • The White House is saying no to agencies who want more office space. Real estate managers have until May 15 to submit a plan for maintaining their current square footage. Plans have to cover offices and warehouses. The Office of Management and Budget calls the policy, Freeze the Footprint. GSA gets the task of monitoring agencies to make sure they don’t bust out. Once plans are approved, any increase in space at one location will have to be offset by reductions somewhere else. Calculations of existing space will use the 2012 Federal Real Property Profile and data from leasing agreements. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service says 660,000 taxpayers will have their refunds delayed because of a software glitch. The delays could last six weeks. The bug affects people using Form 8863 for claiming education credits, who filed between Feb. 14 and Feb. 22. The form includes a series of questions. On some of the questions, if the taxpayer answered “no,” the answer was left blank when the form was electronically transmitted to the IRS. Tax preparer H&R Block says it has fixed the problem. A Turbo Tax spokesman said its software is OK. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is telling agencies to watch out for misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief funds. Controller Danny Werfel said the $5.5 billion in aid carries extra risk of fraud, waste or abuse. In a memo, he tells agencies: monitor spending, ask grantees for lots of details and visit sites. He says agencies should work with their inspectors general to spot problems early on and resolve any audit findings within six months. Werfel says agencies can give grantees only two years to spend the money. Agencies’ internal-control plans are due to the Office of Management and Budget by the end of the month. (White House)