Improper disability payments hit $1.3B Social Security made $1.3 billion in potentially improper disability payments to people who had jobs when they were supposed to be unable to work, congressional investigators said in a report Friday. The Government Accountability Office estimated that 36,000 workers got improper payments from December 2010 to January 2013. The numbers represent less than 1 percent of beneficiaries and less than 1 percent of disability payments made during the time frame. But GAO said the overpayments reveal weaknesses in Social Security's procedures for policing the system. The Social Security Administration said its accuracy rate for disability payments is over 99 percent, but noted that small errors translate into big numbers.
Expert: Fukushima cleanup is complex
A former U.S. nuclear regulator says cleaning up Japan's wrecked Fukushima plant is a bigger challenge than the work he led at Three Mile Island and that radioactive water leaks are a minor part of that task. Lake Barrett was appointed this month by Tokyo Electric Power Co. as an outside adviser for the decades-long decommissioning process. He led the Three Mile Island accident cleanup for nearly a decade. He said that the meltdowns in three of the reactors, massive radiation leaks and the volume of contaminated water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, on Japan's northeast coast, make it a more complicated cleanup.
NPR looking to cut staff by 10 percent
NPR said Friday that it would try to reduce its staff about 10 percent through voluntary buyouts. The announcement was depicted as one of the most substantial staff cutbacks in the history of the public radio organization. NPR would not comment on whether it would resort to layoffs if it did not achieve the desired reductions through buyouts. An email Friday to NPR employees said the buyout offers were part of a strategy to "eliminate the deficit and lower ongoing expenses" and that the strategy "also includes investments in our digital future and revenue generating initiatives such as branded events." The announcement came about two weeks before the end of NPR's fiscal year. The organization has run a deficit of about $6 million this year; about the same amount, $6.1 million, is expected in the fiscal year that will begin on Oct. 1. The buyouts and other measures are intended to help NPR break even in the fiscal year that begins in October 2014.