Friday morning federal headlines – March 29, 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 White House says President Barack Obama will release his 2014 budget proposal on April 10. That’s two months late. By law, he was supposed to deliver the blueprint to Congress in early February, shortly after the State of the Union address. The White House blames budget uncertainty and sequestration for the delay. The House and Senate have passed drastically different budget bills. The White House version is expected to resemble that of the Democratic-controlled Senate. (Federal News Radio)
  • Attorney General Eric Holder says he’s waiting a few weeks to decide whether to furlough Justice Department employees. In a memo to staff, he says the department is still finalizing its sequestration strategy. He already has backtracked on planned furloughs of federal prison staff. They’ll stay on the job because the department was able to shift $150 million from eight other accounts. Those include money from past budgets, capital expenditures and construction funds. (Federal News Radio)
  • Here’s an idea to avoid furloughing federal employees: fire the deadbeats. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) pitches the idea in a letter to the Office of Personnel Management. He says agencies should eliminate staff that don’t show up for work, don’t perform official work or just don’t work. Coburn says this includes federal employees who do union-related activities during their normal work hours. It includes employees receiving “stand-by pay.” And, he says, it includes contract workers who sit idle because they are waiting for their security clearances. He wants OPM to provide details on how much money the government spends on these employees. (Sen. Tom Coburn)
  • A new report commissioned by Congress warns against implementing the STOCK Act. The law requires the government to post senior federal executives’ financial information online. Researchers at the National Academy of Public Administration say that leaves both feds and the government vulnerable to crime like exploitation or blackmail. It concludes that the online database would not do much to reveal conflicts of interest and insider trading. The provision is scheduled to go into effect on April 15. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration is moving ahead on its one-stop-shop for professional services. It has released two draft request-for-proposals for the acquisition program OASIS. The agency wants OASIS to streamline how agencies buy program management, consulting, logistics, engineering, financial and other services. GSA says it will save time and money and increase focus on socioeconomic contracting goals. It’s broken OASIS into two parts. One for all companies and the other for small businesses. (FBO)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have paid $70 million too much to suppliers of durable medical goods. A new inspector general report suggests that the money will be hard to recover. Now Congress is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to plug leaks in the centers’ payment system. A bipartisan group of senators says HHS should recover overpayments using surety bonds. Those are issued by companies as guarantees that health care providers will pay any money they owe CMS. The centers collect only $50,000 per bond although the new Affordable Care Act lets it increase that amount. Moreover, the report says CMS has inaccurate and incomplete bond information for many suppliers. (HHS)