Thursday morning federal headlines – April 4, 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.

  • Maybe it’s sequestration, or maybe it’s three years without a raise. But federal employees have lower opinions of agency leadership than they did a year ago. It’s the first time in five years leadership scores have dropped. That’s according to analysis of OPM’s Employee Viewpoint Survey. Deloitte and the Partnership for Public Service dig into the data each year to come up with the best and worst places to work. NASA’s leadership scored the highest. Homeland Security earned the lowest score. (Federal News Radio)
  • The State Department’s Cairo embassy shut down its Twitter account briefly because of a diplomatically awkward tweet. The embassy tweeted a link to TV comedian Jon Stewart. In a recent shtick, Stewart poked fun at Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The tweet earned a rebuke from Morsi’s office and from main State. When the Cairo crew restarted its Twitter account, the offending tweet had been removed. Stewart had mocked Morsi for jailing a critic who is also a television comic. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama wants federal workers to know he feels their pain under sequestration. He is returning 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in solidarity with those facing furloughs. That will amount to a $20,000 pay cut over the next six months. He’s not the first federal leader whose pay is protected by law to volunteer some of it. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he’ll take a cut equivalent to 14 days’ pay. His deputy, Ashton Carter, made a similar pledge weeks ago, as did Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). (Federal News Radio)
  • Two congressmen want to know why the Homeland Security Department is buying 15 years worth of ammunition. Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate. The Hill reports, Duncan and McCaul say they’re getting no response from DHS on its planned purchase of 1.6 billion hollow-point rounds. DHS officials have said they get better prices buying in bulk. Duncan and McCaul want GAO to determine whether DHS has excessive ammunition and why. (The Hill)
  • A new Gallup poll suggests layoffs at federal agencies are more widespread than reported. Forty-one percent of the feds polled say their employer is letting workers go. That’s a big change from pre-sequestration days, but it’s not a big surprise. The Pentagon has said it would fire temporary workers because of sequestration. NASA and other agencies have warned contract employees that their days could be numbered. But on the brighter side, the Gallup poll found agencies are still hiring. One out of five feds polled said so. (Gallup)
  • Congress isn’t buying one agency’s assertion that it’s going to be all right despite sequestration. House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) wants to know how the Small Business Administration will protect its core functions. In a letter, he asks administrator Karen Mills: what happens if demand for business loans goes up? He also wants to know how much money the agency spends on employee travel and special events like Small Business Week. Mills has said that demand for SBA guaranteed loans is down, and the agency can survive sequestration without furloughs. (Federal News Radio)