Monday morning federal headlines – April 1, 2013

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.

  • Dell is blaming Microsoft for some of its financial problems. The two companies helped build the modern federal office throughout the 1990s. Dell ranks 19 on Washington Technology’s list of Top 100 tech contractors. Facing tough prospects, founder Michael Dell has been trying to take the company private. In a proxy statement filed with the SEC, Dell attributes some of its troubles to slow sales of Windows 8. That’s the newest Microsoft operating system. In the proxy, Dell also acknowledges it’s operating in one of the weakest technology segments, desktop PCs and commodity servers. Michael Dell’s takeover bid faces competition from two other investor groups. (SEC)
  • CDW Government, one of the government’s biggest technology contractors, will pay $5.6 million to settle false claims allegations. The case was brought by a former employee turned whistleblower. Joe Liotine accused the company of under-reporting sales so it could avoid paying industrial funding fees to the General Services Administration. The company is also accused of improperly charging the government for shipping and selling products made in China, violating the Trade Agreements Act. Liotine will get $1.3 million of the settlement. The Justice Department says the claims settled by the agreement remain unproven allegations. Last year, CDW Government did more than $560 million in federal business. (Justice Department)
  • Members of Congress are feeling the same sequestration pain as executive branch agencies. The House is living under an 8.2 percent reduction in members’ personal office budgets. They’d already been cut 11 percent the year before. And a new bill would slash committee budgets by another 11 percent. It’s sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), who chairs the administration committee. Miller said if taxpayers feel sequestration, then Congress should lead by example. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has escalated the war of words about federal employees. He tells Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry to hunt down and fire those who don’t work or who don’t show up. Coburn says too many employees are AWOL, or absent without leave. He also says thousands of essential federal employees are in fact on the job, doing critical work like inspecting food. But he says getting rid of no-shows could let agencies avoid furloughs. Coburn also took a swipe at so-called official hours, the millions of manhours federal workers spend on union activities. (Federal News Radio)
  • Airport operators are suing the Federal Aviation Administration to stop the spending cuts to 150 air traffic control towers. They say it violates a federal law and could erode safety. The head of one of the effected airports in central Illinois says there’s a “razor thin” margin of error in aviation and the FAA needs to study the effect of the cuts more closely. Airports in Florida and Washington state have also joined the lawsuit. FAA officials say because of sequestration, they have no choice but to furlough air traffic controllers at small airports with lighter traffic. Pilots flying into those airports would have to communicate with other pilots themselves, instead of through a control tower. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Postal Service’s big announcement to cut Saturday letter delivery was not a good move, say Congressional experts. The Hill newspaper reports since Congress maintains that it controls the frequency of delivery, members on both sides of the aisle were rubbed the wrong way by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plan. Donahoe says the move could save $2 billion a year. In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office maintained that Congress controls frequency of service, but USPS disagrees. (The Hill)

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