Monday federal headlines – May 5, 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.

  • Federal employees are feeling the love. Public Service Recognition week began yesterday with a 5K run in Anacostia Park and a social media campaign to say “thank you” in 140 characters. Tomorrow, the director of the Office of Personnel Management throws the first pitch at the Nats game against the LA Dodgers. Katherine Archuleta has asked five federal employees to join her on the field as she makes her major league debut. Thursday, Archuleta and several other agency leaders hold a town-hall style meeting about public service. She tells Federal News Radio, every day, federal workers go to work and the impact they have on citizens every day sometimes goes unnoticed. (Federal News Radio)
  • A new survey draws attention to unhappiness at the top of the federal career ladder. The Senior Executives Association says half of members polled say morale at their agencies is low or very low. A third say they are not satisfied with performance evaluations. They say the process is getting worse, not better. They see their bosses as sluggish and opaque about it. And they cite a lack of respect. But, in the end, most say they received bonuses last year worth up to 6 percent of their salaries. Many say those at the top of the general schedule fare better pay-wise. SEA polled about 400 members in February. (Federal News Radio)
  • A forensic accountant hot on the trail of security fraudsters, a lawyer who has argued 125 cases before the Supreme Court and the head of the Antarctica research program at the National Science Foundation are some of the 33 contenders for this year’s top awards for federal employees. The Partnership for Public Service announced the Service to America Medal nominees in connection with Public Service Recognition Week. Eight winners will be named in September. (Partnership for Public Service)
  • The House Armed Services Committee has a busy week of budget scrutiny ahead. Beginning on Wednesday the committee will be marking up the National Defense Authorization Act. Based on prior subcommittee markups, it’s believed that the full committee will reject most of the cost-saving ideas DoD is trying to pass to cope with sequestration. DoD’s proposal calls for $2.1 billion in savings on military compensation. Lawmakers have said previously that they do not support the DoD’s request to do another round of base realignments and closures. (Federal News Radio)
  • A major deal merges two of the top voices in the $3.6 trillion information and communications technology sector. CompTIA this morning is announcing that it is acquiring TechAmerica. Terms of the deal have not been made public. But the move occurred to bring together two companies with complementary services. CompTIA is known for certification, education, philanthropy and advocacy for small and medium technology companies. TechAmerica works with large businesses and the public sector. (Federal News Radio)
  • Drones are everywhere these days, even near pristine waterfalls and over tree tops at Yosemite National Park. Sightings of the unmanned flying robots are practically becoming a daily occurrence. The National Park Service says the situation has gotten so out of hand that it’s issued a statement to remind visitors that drones are illegal. Most of these offenders simply don’t know the rules and are using drones to snap photos of landscape that would be difficult to capture otherwise. But using the devices can cause problems, distracting emergency workers during rescues, making lots of noise and interfering with sensitive wildlife. (Associated Press)
  • The U.S. Forest Service is bracing for a a particularly bad wildfire season out West and an exceedingly small budget to fight it. Tom Harbour, the agency’s National Director of Fire and Aviation Management, says conditions are so threatening the forest service could run out of money fighting fires. Budget problems have been a struggle for years, but a combination of drought and warmer weather has made the wildfire season longer and blazes larger. The agency also expected to have 17 tankers in its fleet to use, yet seven are not ready to fly.(Associated Press)
  • Closed nuclear power plants that store tons of radioactive fuel need to be better regulated. That’s the warning from five U.S. senators in a letter to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Studies by the NRC indicate that a fuel fire at a closed site could be just as dangerous and costly as one at an operating reactor. Yet shuttered power plants do not have to abide by certain emergency and security safeguards. The letter cites problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant as proof that better emergency planning is critical, even at closed plants. (Associated Press)
  • Will reform of the Voice of America restore focus to the broadcaster or turn it into a propaganda machine? That is the debate taking place as the House considers making dramatic changes to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees government-based news outlets like VOA. A bill unanimously passed by the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee would require that its programming conform to the broad public diplomacy and foreign policies of the U.S. Critics of the legislation say doing so sacrifices the broadcaster’s editorial independence. Supporters say VOA’s journalism has become fluff and the bill could bring it back to more serious news coverage with greater scrutiny. (The Hill)