Friday federal headlines – May 3, 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 agency is asking states to give back their subsidies because of sequestration. The Forest Service says it has no choice but to collect the nearly $18 million. Congress and state leaders disagree. They say the cash is not subject to spending cuts. The agency gave it to states before March 1. That’s when sequestration went into effect. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says the frustration in his timber-rich state with the Forest Service’s demands “is off the charts.” (Federal News Radio)
  • The State Department inspector general is looking into the panel that investigated last year’s attack on the compound in Benghazi, Libya. Fox News reports, the IG plans to investigate whether the Accountability Review Board failed to interview key witnesses. The board was headed by former UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. The IG action calls into question the reliability of their work. The Review Board cleared then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of responsibility for security lapses at the compound. The attack resulted in four American deaths, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. (Fox News)
  • Agency human resources teams might see some relief from some reporting requirements. The Office of Personnel Management says it is working with the White House on workforce management strategies. Expect new regulations that let agencies use their strategic plans under the Government Performance and Results Act to guide human capital decisions. The law requires agencies to set priority goals. OPM says those should include personnel improvements based on employee survey results and other data. It could eliminate up to a dozen separate human capital plans and reports. (CHCOC)
  • Federal CIOs are finding creative ways to deal with tight budgets. And they mostly support procurement legislation that would give them more authority. Those are two of the findings in a CIO survey conducted by Grant Thornton and the lobbying group TechAmerica. CIOs’ top two concerns, though, are budgets and people. Cybersecurity runs a close third. Among the techniques for coping with flat budgets: consolidating contracts and giving teleworkers tablets instead of more expensive notebook PCs. They’re also using secure webinars to substitute for travel. (TechAmerica)
  • Congress, veterans and employees are upset with the Veterans Affairs Department for giving a performance bonus to an executive. The department awarded a $63,000 bonus to the official that oversees its Pittsburgh healthcare system despite a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak there that killed five patients. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) called the VA “tone deaf” when it comes to executive bonuses. He said the VA needed to review its performance appraisal system and explain why it awarded the bonuses. (Federal News Radio)