Tuesday morning federal headlines – April 23, 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.

  • The General Services Administration plans to double the government’s inventory of hybrid cars. It plans to buy 10,000 more of them. To get agencies to lease them, GSA will pay for the differential in leasing rates between hybrids and regular cars. It is able to do so because of brisk sales of used hybrids. Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said that when all 10,000 of the new cars hit the roads, the government will save a million gallons of gas per year. (GSA)
  • Federal employee pledges to the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign were off by more than 5 percent compared to a year earlier. In fact, they have fallen for the last two years, according to new data provided to the Office of Personnel Management. GovExec reports, about 850,000 federal employees participated in 2012, donating $258 million. The highest levels of participation came from uniformed military members. In the Washington area, donations fell a little less than the national average. (GovExec)
  • Furloughs have begun at the White House. The Office of Management and Budget says a majority of its career staff took yesterday off without pay. OMB plans to furlough employees for 10 days between now and October. Several other agencies, including the EPA, are in similar situations. The Park Police began furloughs Sunday. All 760 employees will have to take up to 14 days off without pay.The Washington Post reports, the Park Police stepped up its presence in Washington last week in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. (Federal News Radio)
  • While they sit waiting for delayed flights, airline passengers won’t be able to whittle their coffee stir sticks. That’s because the Transportation Security Administration has delayed a rule allowing small knives and other banned items aboard planes. The new rule was scheduled for tomorrow. But TSA says it needs time to evaluate input from an advisory board. Critics, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), say they hope TSA will nix the idea for good. Besides small knives, the new rule would have allowed miniature baseball bats and golf clubs aboard. (Federal News Radio)
  • The board that runs the Thrift Savings Plan won’t offer extra help to furloughed federal workers. Federal employee unions wanted the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to create an emergency loan program. But the board said it would be too hard to put into practice and could take months. TSP Director Greg Long told GovExec if feds need cash quick, they could temporarily put aside less money for retirement. Participants now can take out one general-purpose loan and one residential loan every 60 days. (GovExec)
  • The public is finally feeling the effects of sequestration. Flight delays piled up throughout the country yesterday, the first weekday of furloughs for air traffic controllers. To maintain their safety margin, controllers still on the job ordered planes held at their origination points to reduce inbound traffic. Flights were delayed up to two hours in Washington, Baltimore, New York, Los Angeles and parts of Florida. Critics say FAA administrator Michael Huerta should find other ways to save money. Several groups have filed lawsuits to force the FAA to fully staff its towers. (Federal News Radio)