Wednesday morning federal headlines – April 11, 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.

  • President Barack Obama sends his 2014 budget request to Congress at 11 a.m., two months late. It will propose a combination of tax hikes and modest reductions in spending growth to reduce the deficit. President Obama will propose a new way of calculating escalators to reduce growth in Social Security payments. The administration’s budget plan is radically different from one that passed the Republican-controlled House. The Senate has passed a third version. Debates will likely start this summer. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama is trying to breathe new life into a federal board paralyzed by a court ruling. He has nominated three people to the National Labor Relations Board. If they are confirmed, the board would have enough members to once again rule on cases involving workers, unions and employers. Republicans have accused the board of advancing extreme policies. A federal appeals panel threw the board into legal limbo in January. It said the president should not have appointed members while lawmakers were on break last year. It raised questions about roughly 600 board decisions since that time. (Rep. John Kline)
  • A Treasury auditor has discovered, bank bailout money went in circles. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has troubling findings. It found, most of the banks who received cash from Treasury to increase lending, used the money to pay back their own TARP loans. Congress gave Treasury $30 billion for the Small Business Lending Fund. Most of it went to banks who also got TARP bailout money. The banks loaned a little more, but they used 80 percent of the new cash to pay back TARP. The IG chided Treasury for poor oversight of the program. It could have been worse. Treasury only doled out $4 billion of the $30 billion it was authorized to. (SIGTARP)
  • Pay freeze? What pay freeze? The Office of Personnel Management says federal pay, on average, went up a bit last year. The average salary of full-time, permanent workers was just over $78,000 as of September. That’s about $700 more than the year before. OPM also says the government gained about 10,000 workers last year, half of them full-time permanent employees. Feds’ average age is 47. And here’s a fun fact: There are about six federal employees for every 1,000 Americans. All of this comes from an annual report on the federal workforce. (OPM)
  • The Internal Revenue Service is getting tougher on identity theft despite budget woes. President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget proposal includes more jail time and new fines for fraudsters. It would require most people to wait three years before accessing the Social Security Administration files on dead people. It would remove Social Security numbers from W-2s those forms that employers send the IRS. The agency has more than doubled the number of employees working on identity theft issues over the past two years. There are now about 3,000. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Government Accountability Office has presented a grim picture of duplication and waste across the federal government. In its third of three annual reports to Congress, GAO identified 17 new missions in which agency efforts overlap. It found another 14 areas where agencies simply missed opportunities to economize. GAO says agencies need to plan their activities better, then measure them more carefully. It chided agency managers for poor oversight. And it urged agencies to share information and collaborate more. The thick report came out the day before the president releases the administration’s 2014 budget request. Administration officials say the budget will propose hundreds of ways to consolidate and save $25 billion. The budget comes out later this morning. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded contracts to 799 companies for equipment. CMS says the contracts will save Medicare Part B $26 billion between now and 2022. Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner says CMS used a competitive process to choose from among several thousand bidders. They’ll supply what Medicare calls durable equipment, items such as prosthetics and certain supplies. It also picked 18 mail order suppliers from among 245 bids. The announcement of the new contracts came out the same day Tavenner appeared before senators in confirmation hearings on making her permanent administrator. (CMS)
  • The Obama’s might want to put Domino’s pizza on speed dial. The White House assistant chef says he’s going to be furloughed along with other federal workers. Sam Kass cooks for the president several nights a week. He’s also the senior nutrition policy adviser. He plants the White House garden and directs First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity. The White House says 480 employees of the Office of Management and Budget will have to take days off without pay. It hasn’t commented on other White House staff. (Federal News Radio)