Friday federal headlines – June 13, 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.

  • The lowest paid federal employees and contractor workers will get a double-digit raise come Jan. 1. Labor Secretary Tom Perez orders a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour for them, up from $7.25. Perez and President Obama want the minimum wage for all workers to rise, but Congress hasn’t gone along. The administration has the authority to raise the minimum for people paid with federal dollars. (Associated Press)
  • A new inspector general audit faults the Office of Personnel Management for lax oversight of companies who do quality reviews of background investigations. The IG says OPM doesn’t watch the contractors closely enough, and it says the contractors themselves don’t always keep complete records of their case reviews. Quality of background checks is a long standing issue for OPM. It came to a head when a person with security clearance murdered 12 people last fall at the Navy Yard in Washington. The IG cites one case in which a reviewer signed off on more than 15,000 cases in a month, taking only moments for each one. (Federal News Radio)
  • A long-time Obama appointee and troubleshooter is planning to depart from government. Haley Van Dyck plans to leave her post at the Office of Management and Budget at the end of August. She came to OMB two and a half years ago and took up the administration’s innovation portfolio. That includes working on the Digital Government Strategy and the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Before OMB, Van Dyke worked briefly at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that, she spent two years at the FCC. She oversaw several initiatives there, including an overhaul of its website. (Federal News Radio)
  • How often do you see human resources staff at key meetings? Not often enough, according to government auditors. That seat at the table where key decisions are made eludes most federal human capital professionals. Moreover, the Government Accountability Office says the Chief Human Capital Officers Council is not improving coordination across agencies as best it could. GAO says the problems have always been there, but resource constraints have made them worse. (Federal News Radio)
  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says all DHS components, plus the departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Justice, State and the General Services Administration, are working to address the flood of immigrant children illegally coming to the United States. Johnson says the surge along the Southwest border is “a problem of humanitarian proportions.” The government has set up temporary facilities at military bases as far away as Oklahoma. The children stay there until officials can place them with family or sponsors already in the United States. Only then does the government consider their immigration cases. More than 47,000 children have been caught at the Mexican border since October. (Homeland Security Department)
  • With Baghdad threatened by takeover, the Obama administration says it will provide military help to the Iraqi army. The officials say the President has not yet made a final decision on what form that help will take. They rule out ground troops, but are considering air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. That’s the insurgent group rolling through the country, taking over town-by-town. This morning the terrorist group was just short of Baghdad. President Obama says he wants to make sure the insurgency doesn’t obtain a permanent foothold. Yesterday American trainers had to evacuate an Iraqi air base. The United States has already launched surveillance drones in Iraq. (Associated Press)
  • The Pentagon is firing a new arrow at its favorite cost-cutting target — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Wall Street Journal reports, senior officials have asked the main contractors to invest their own money in cost-cutting measures. That could include redesigning parts of the aircraft. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor. Other major contributors include Northrop Grumman, Pratt and Whitney, and BAE Systems. Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan is the F-35 program manager. He says lifecycle costs for the jet have been reduced nine percent. But he says the target is 30 percent. The total cost of the program, including operations and maintenance, is estimated at $1 trillion between now and 2065. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A government watchdog says the military cannot answer “the most basic questions” about eight patrol boats destined for Afghan police. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the boats are worth $3 million, all told. The Navy bought them four years ago. But when the boats were nearly finished, the military canceled the order without explanation. They’ve sat in a Navy warehouse in Virginia for three years. (SIGAR)
  • The Bureau of Land Management isn’t sharing the facts about a recent standoff with a Nevada rancher. The claim comes not from anti-government protesters, but from an advocacy group for federal employees. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, known as PEER, is suing the bureau two months after requesting and not getting documents. It wants to know what steps the government tried to take to avoid what became an armed confrontation between federal ranchers and supporters of Cliven Bundy. It also wants to know what steps the bureau is taking now to protect its employees. ( Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)