Tuesday federal headlines – April 30, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Labor Department stats now show how many government contractors are killed each year on the job. Figures from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that in 2011, 108 public sector contractors died on the job. Only 11 were federal contractors, the rest were working for state and local government. Deaths involving all contractors, public and private, numbered 542. Numbers are compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (BLS)
  • Senior Veterans Benefits Administration executives will share the pain of veterans waiting a long time for decisions on disability claims. VA is withholding bonuses for top staff members overseeing the claims program. That’s because they’ve failed to meet performance goals for reducing the backlog. Rather than shrink, the claims backlog has grown steadily over the last three years. In 2011, the senior executives received a total of nearly $3 million in bonuses. The backlog more than doubled the same year to 500,000. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Smithsonian Institution has chosen which galleries it will close because of sequestration budget cuts. It will shutter sections of three buildings starting May 1 until Sept. 30. A spokeswoman said a section of the National Museum of African Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Commons area of the Castle will close. The Smithsonian is trying to reduce its spending by $41 million. It plans to leave all of its major exhibitions open. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sequestration is reversing progress the Office of Personnal Management has made in speeding up retirement claims. OPM said it will cut call-center hours and suspend overtime of Retirement Services employees. Ken Zawodny, OPM’s associate director for retirement services, said in a blog post, retirees should expect to wait longer for their claims to be processed. The cutbacks come as OPM experiences an uptick in the number of retirement applications. The backlog has grown since January. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama said the U.S. could lose years of scientific research due to sequestration. Speaking at a National Academy of Sciences event, the president said the nation couldn’t afford a scientific slowdown. Several agencies have gotten reprogramming authority and stop-gap measures to hold off the sequester’s effects, but Obama said he still hopes to replace it altogether. (Federal News Radio)