Monday federal headlines – June 30, 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.

  • Senior Executive Service members are quitting the government, but not because of the intense scrutiny of their performance, or pay freezes or budget cuts. They are simply getting older. The Senior Executive Association and the George Washington University says retirement has led to a steady decline in the SES. Turnover has increased 36 percent since 2009. The Justice Department has held the greatest number of goodbye parties. The Agriculture Department has seen the most dramatic drop, however, at 162 percent. The report is based on Office of Personnel Management data on nearly 3,200 former SES members. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congressional leaders on Veterans Affairs warn it’s going to be a tough road ahead for the President’s nominee to lead the department. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he’ll meet with Robert McDonald this week. He wants to know how the former Procter and Gamble chief would resolve staffing issues, improve transparency and hold employees accountable. House VA Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) says he expects McDonald to “root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud” at the department and to be completely transparent with Congress. (Senate)
  • A White House aide is staying on at the Veterans Affairs Department to help lead an overhaul of patient care and scheduling practices. The White House says Rob Nabors has briefed the President on his findings at the Veterans Health Administration. For now, he will help acting Secretary Sloan Gibson implement those recommendations. Since Nabors began his review, the White House says the VA has reached out to 135,000 veterans who might not have had timely care in the past. The department has trained about 10,000 schedulers and put more money into the system to speed up care. It also has begun posting updates on the VA’s website. (White House)
  • U.S. diplomats took to the streets around the world this weekend to participate in gay rights parades. The State Department says efforts to promote gay equality are tailored to local conditions. Ambassadors in Tel Aviv, London and Prague have chosen to hoist rainbow flags, the symbol of gay pride, next to the Stars and Stripes at their embassies. The United States has sent five openly gay ambassadors abroad. A sixth nominees awaits Senate confirmation. Since December 2011, the State Department has spent $12 million on gay rights advocacy in over 50 countries. The public’s focus, though, is on consular offices. They began issuing immigrant visas to the same-sex spouses of gay Americans last year. (Associated Press)
  • The ability for one person to make a positive change that affects many is on display at the Federal Communications Commission. Chairman Tom Wheeler will be asking the commission to vote on close captioning online video clips. The Hill Newspaper reports, Wheeler has been pushing for increased accessibility for the internet. He says the vote next month is only the start of online improvements for people with hearing impairments. (The Hill)
  • About 500 U.S. service members are now in Baghdad. Most of them are Army Special Forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard. Already, the Iraqis say the United States has been essential in providing intelligence and advice in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The U.S. military has opened a joint operations center in the capital city. It will open a second center in northern Iraq. U.S. forces are flying aircraft and drones on reconnaissance missions. They also are assessing the Iraqi military over the next two to three weeks. (Defense Department)
  • The Marines have conducted a drill in the Philippines near disputed waters. More than 100 Filipino and U.S. Marines in assault amphibious vehicles ran through a mock assault on imaginary enemies. They are at a northwestern Filipino beach that faces the South China Sea. The Philippines and China lay claim to it. Officials say the maneuvers are not directed at China. (Associated Press)