Monday federal headlines – June 17, 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.

  • The Postal Service is paying $17 million to settle a lawsuit brought by disabled employees. The plaintiffs said the agency restricted their work hours because of their disabilities. They also accused the Postal Service of denying them the use of devices like electric scooters. In settling the suit, the Postal Service is not admitting guilt. The class-action complaint covers 41,000 current and former Postal workers. Federal Times reports that after attorneys’ fees, each plaitiff would receive an average of $300. The EEOC has granted preliminary approval to the settlement. (Federal Times)
  • President Barack Obama has chosen a classic inside-Washington lawyer to make another try at closing down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It’s where the U.S. has held foreign terror suspects ever since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Clifford Sloan will become the State Department’s special envoy. That office was closed down in January. Sloan will try to negotiate between the administration and Congress on a way to shut down the prison. Sloan is a partner at Skadden Arps, where he is listed as specializing in intellectual property, media and entertainment. He’s worked in all three branches of government. (Federal News Radio)
  • Anne Rung, the acquisition chief at the General Services Administration, is reviewing internal procurement procedures after GSA was stung by an inspector general report saying high level executives had interfered with schedule contract negotiations. Rung’s review coincides with an instruction letter issued by Tom Sharpe, the Federal Acquisition Service commissioner. Three high-level GSA procurement employees have been put on leave. At issue are contracts issued to Carasoft, Deloitte and Oracle. The IG found that higher-ups overrode contracting officers on terms and conditions of the contracts. Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini also recently named Rung to lead the Office of Governmentwide Policy. (Federal News Radio)
  • Working in a federal park is no picnic. Violence is rising against park rangers, wildlife refuge workers and Park Police. The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility counted 591 incidents last year, a 38-percent increase over the prior year. Causes aren’t clear. The group says the incidents do not reflect changes brought by a 2010 law that lets people carry loaded guns in national parks. Employees at the six land and water agencies say there are more conflicts over land-management policies, illegal meth labs and marijuana farms on federal land. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House has passed the first major IT acquisition overhaul since 1996. It approved the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill, known as FITARA, has bipartisan support on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which wrote it. FITARA would give CIOs more authority by letting only one person in a department have the title. The CIO would have greater power over the IT purse. And it would set in law many of the Obama administration IT initiatives. These include data center consolidation and stopping overlapping investments. The Senate has not written a companion bill. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bipartisan group of four House members wants coal to be part of the mix when it comes to federal buildings going green. GovExec reports, they’ve introduced a bill to repeal part of a law requiring federal buildings to use less energy from fossil fuels. The four hail from coal states. They say the 2007 law hurts the coal industry. Sponsors are Reps. Ed Whitefield (R-Ky.), Dave McKinley (R-W.Va.), William Enyart (D-Ill.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va). They cite President Obama’s frequent declaration that he supports an all-of-the-above energy policy. (GovExec)
  • The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014, ignoring a White House veto threat. The final vote in the Republican- led chamber was 315 to 108. The $638 billion measure covers everything from tougher penalties for military rapists to federal IT management reforms. It prevents the Defense Department from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. (Federal News Radio)