Tuesday federal headlines – Aug. 12, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • A $2 billion loss at the Postal Service no longer turns heads but quickens calls for change. The agency posted the loss for the spring quarter, compared with a year earlier. It came despite an increase in revenue from shipping and package services. The agency says workers’ compensation drove its expenses upward. CFO Joe Corbett says the Postal Service is being “extremely conservative” with its money, spending only what it has to to maintain its infrastructure. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says the Postal Service needs to “right size itself.” His democratic counterpart in the Senate, Tom Carper, renewed calls to overhaul legislation. (Associated Press)
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration paid more than $850,000 for confidential Amtrak passenger lists. The kicker? It could have gotten that information for free. Amtrak’s inspector general says the DEA gave the money to one Amtrak employee, a secretary, over two decades. Amtrak police already work with the DEA, so it’s not clear why the agency felt the need to pay an additional informant. The Amtrak IG says the train service needs to take measures to control weaknesses. The secretary was allowed to retire rather than face administrative discipline. (Associated Press)
  • A top housing official is leaving the government. The Wall Street Journal reports, Carol Galante will vacate her post as the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration toward the end of the year. The agency insures mortgage lenders. For the first time in its history, it had to ask Congress for funding to compensate for its losses. In a memo to staff, Galante says she will become a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, where she will also lead its program on housing policy. She has been commuting between San Francisco and Washington. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A former contractor for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command is expected to plead guilty to accepting bribes. Scott Miserendino will appear in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. Prosecutors say he, and a former Command civilian employee, accepted more than $265,000 in bribes over five years. Prosecutors say they took the bribes from two Chesapeake companies vying for more than $5 million in government contracts. Miserindino has been charged with acceptance of a bribe by a public official, among other things. Several others connected with the scheme have already pleaded guilty to related charges. Miserendino managed telecom projects. (Justice Department)
  • The Energy Secretary is vowing to reopen the nation’s only permanent nuclear waste dump as soon as possible. Ernest Moniz admits the department still doesn’t know what caused the nuclear leak in February. But, he says, “a plausible picture is emerging.” He hopes to have a plan for reopening the mine in place by the end of September. But safety remains the priority. Moniz spoke to residents of Carlsbad, New Mexico, where the dump is located. One theory of what caused the leak focuses on organic kitty litter used to absorb moisture in the waste barrels. Investigators also blame inattention to safety at the dump. (Associated Press)