Monday federal headlines – May 6, 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.

  • With all the talk of sequestration and pay freezes, it might feel like no one loves federal workers. But in honor of Public Service Recognition Week, President Barack Obama and agency leaders are saying “thank you” to federal employees. In open letters, they note that feds help secure borders, make sure food and products are safe for consumers, protect the environment and more. This week’s activities included a 5K race yesterday that benefited the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund and a town hall meeting today, where agency leaders will discuss ways to support and motivate employees. (Partnership for Public Service)
  • The White House is cutting more agencies a break from sequestration. Congressional staffers tell the Associated Press, the administration is recalculating its sequestration formula because of the new spending bill passed in March. The White House has identified $5 billion in cuts that could be restored. Most of that would go to the Pentagon, which has complained that sequestration is already hurting military readiness. The rest of the money would go to civilian agencies. The State Department says it would be able to avoid furloughing workers in part because of the new calculation. The FDA says it will not have to curtail inspections of food processing plants. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal building managers are finding it’s not easy being green. Energy consumption is rising at 179 federal buildings. GovExec made the calculations based on data from a 2012 Energy Star competition run by the Environmental Protection Agency. An EPA spokeswoman suggested reducing energy doesn’t happen without careful planning. The General Services Administration blamed some of the rising costs to renovations. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building has been under renovation for years. Its energy use rose 24 percent in 2012. The silver lining: Fifteen federal buildings bucked the trend to earn top scores in that 2012 contest. (GovExec)
  • The Office of Management and Budget has lost another leader. OMB deputy director for management Jeff Zients has left the agency. He spent much of his four-year tenure as acting OMB director, but the permanent position was filled by Sylvia Burwell two weeks ago. Zients expanded the use of strategic sourcing and private sector ideas but struggled with reorganization efforts. No word yet on what the next move for Zients will be. (Federal News Radio)
  • Not as many feds as expected filed retirement claims last month. Slightly more than 7,000 said goodbye to their agencies. That’s 1,000 less than predicted by the Office of Personnel Management. The dip let OPM do damage to its backlog of retirement claims. It’s down to 30,000 applications. While that’s progress, OPM had expected to have fewer claims — about 23,000 by now. But a month ago, it looked like sequestration was doing a number on OPM’s processing office. OPM had said it would cut call-center hours and suspend overtime of Retirement Services employees. (Federal News Radio)