Wednesday morning federal headlines – March 13, 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.

  • One fall guy of the GSA conference spending scandal has been cleared of wrongdoing and will get his old job back. Paul Prouty was Region 8 commissioner for the General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service. He was fired last year in the wake of an inspector general report about a Western Region conference. A Merit Systems Protection Board administrative law judge has ruled GSA wrongfully terminated Prouty. Judge Patricia Miller ordered GSA to reinstate him. She said GSA failed to provide sufficient evidence that Prouty had done anything wrong. GSA officials say they’re considering an appeal. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department has stopped production of a new medal for remote warfare troops. Secretary Chuck Hagel is reviewing the medal after protests from veterans groups and members of Congress. The Distinguished Warfare Medal is intended for cyber warriors and operators of unmanned aircraft. Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars objected because the medal was ranked higher than traditional combat medals. Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey will conduct the review. The Army general will consider what’s known as the order of preference for the new award. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Labor Relations Board plans to appeal to the Supreme Court a decision that invalidated President Obama’s recess appointments to the agency. In January, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Obama’s appointments unconstitutional. It said the appointments weren’t made during an actual recess. Since then, more than 90 companies have argued the NLRB lacked the authority to take action against them. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration has found a buyer for an obsolete federal heating plant in Georgetown. A partnership called Georgetown 2K has agreed to purchase the property for $19.5 million. GovExec reports, the group plans to convert the building into condominiums and its grounds into a park. The park will link the C & O canal towpath to the Georgetown Waterfront. GSA received five bids for the familiar landmark, which stopped working about 10 years ago. (GovExec)
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is warning contractors to expect upheaval during sequestration. It said it cannot avoid changing some contracts. Deputy Assistant Administrator for Acquisition Patricia McNall said budget cuts could force the FAA to stop or suspend work, negotiate lower prices or other terms and even break contracts. McNall said the FAA is reviewing plans for new contracts too. Companies will get the bad news from their contracting officers. But the FAA is hoping to preserve as many opportunities as possible for small businesses. (FAA)
  • A new bill would force agencies to release more documents to the public. The bill comes from the leading Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. It would force agencies to explain why they choose to withhold requested documents. It builds upon a four-year-old Justice Department memo that committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said agencies aren’t taking seriously. Issa said there seems to be two Obama Administrations, one that talks about transparency and the other that keeps information hidden. The committee hears today from open-government advocates. (House)
  • On top of furloughs and an extended pay freeze, federal employees would shell out more for retirement benefits under a new budget plan. House Republicans’ proposal for fiscal 2014 would save $132 billion over 10 years. It would also cut the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition. The budget’s architect, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), meets today with President Barack Obama. But the GOP plan is widely considered dead on arrival. The president will release his own budget proposal in early April. (House)