Wednesday federal headlines – April 16, 2014

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.

  • Housing and Urban Development will soon post online the salaries of the highest paid local public housing authorities that receive federal funds. HUD collected the data in February. To force the posting, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had put a hold on the nomination of Katherine O’Regan to become assistant secretary for policy. But Secretary Shaun Donovan promises publication of the salary data by mid-May. He says officials are verifying the information as fast as they can. Grassley has lifted the hold. Federal law caps housing authority salaries using federal funds at $155,000. (GovExec)
  • The Government Printing Office is a step closer to getting a much wanted name change. A Senate bill to call it the Government Publishing Office clears the rules and administration committee. Now the full Senate can vote on it. GPO officials say the word publishing better reflects how it does business. GPO still puts ink on paper, but the bulk of its output is electronic nowaday. (Government Printing Office)
  • The Office of Personnel Management seeks agencies to pilot a program meant to boost teamwork and morale. It’s trying three methods: bottom-up, top-down and cloud-based. At some agencies, employees will choose their own projects and teammates, either within their agency or from across the government. Other agencies will have managers assign employees to special projects. A third group will let employees float from agency to agency on a project-by-project basis. That could serve as a model for a new type of federal employee: one that works for the government as opposed to a particular agency. (Office of Personnel Management)
  • Expect more toll roads and, perhaps pot holes, in the future. The Transportation Department says its highway trust fund will run out of money for road projects by September. It’s spending more on surface transportation projects than it is collecting in fuel taxes and other fees. Secretary Anthony Foxx is on an eight- state bus trip to whip up public support for a long-term fix. In the past, Congress has chosen to use general treasury funds to keep the program going. Foxx calls that a “band-aid.” Instead, he wants lawmakers to tighten corporate tax laws and use the savings from that for the highway program. (Associated Press)
  • The U.S. Agency for International Development’s efforts to build housing in Haiti fell far short of goals, according to the agency’s inspector general. The IG examined what USAID did in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The agency set out to build 4,000 homes near Port Au Prince, but only built 816. The IG says a plan to provide 11,000 home sites only resulted in 2,000. USAID has nearly doubled funding this year and extended its deadline to October. Mission director John Groarke says more than 328,000 people have benefited from USAID since the earthquake. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force plans to cut its civilian workforce by 2,700 next year. Federal Times reports, that will bring the total down to 186,000. Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox is deputy chief of staff for manpower. He says the reductions will come through a combination of early retirements, buyouts and attrition. So far this year, the Air Force has offered buyouts or early retirements to 160 people. Cox says he’s not ruling out involuntary reductions in force, but he says that’s a last resort. He says the civilian workforce shrinkage will continue past 2015. (Federal Times)
  • A former Army sergeant, now an investment analyst, will be the seventh living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Barack Obama will award the nation’s top military honor to Kyle White. White risked his life in an hours-long effort to save comrades during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan. Kain Schilling, an Army specialist who survived because of White, says he’ll be at the White House ceremony next month. (Associated Press)
  • Arlington National Cemetery is joining the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service makes the designation. By placing it on the list, the Park Service increases the chances the cemetery will get resources for preservation. (National Park Service)
  • The Defense Department is turning discarded drones into mobile hotspots. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, says the unmanned aircraft will provide deployed service members with reliable connections just like the 4G cell-phone networks in the United States. The agency has field-tested the technology. They’ve put small antennas and amplifiers on the drones. The aircraft are SRQ-7 Shadow UAVs. They look like airplanes and they have a 13-foot wingspan. (DARPA)