Friday morning federal headlines – April 6, 2012

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.

  • IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman warned Congress if it doesn’t deal with expiring tax cuts and other tax laws, next year’s filing season could be a disaster. He said if Congress doesn’t resolve tax questions early, total confusion would prevail among taxpayers. That could cause the agency to delay the opening of the filing season. Speaking at the National Press Club, Shulman said he would step down when his term expires in November. He was appointed by President Bush in 2007. (Federal News Radio)
  • A former CIA officer was indicted on charges he leaked classified information to journalists. John C. Kiriakou faces five counts for revealing the identity of other CIA operatives and other infractions. Federal investigators believe Kiriakou gave secret CIA names to defense lawyers for a suspected al-Qaida financier. If convicted, Kiriakou could face 50 years in prison. Kiriakou is free on bond. He’ll be arraigned April 13. The indictment is part of several leak investigations launched by the Obama administration. (Associated Press)
  • At first it was a scandal. Now the infamous GSA conference in Las Vegas has become a laughing stock. A video from the conference shows a GSA employee singing a parody of a Bruno Mars song. In it, the employee mocks President Obama, agency spending and IG investigations. The video was shown at the conference award ceremony. It was posted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The inspector general’s report on the conference led to the resignation of GSA administrator Martha Johnson. (Federal News Radio)
  • A botnet infected more than 600,000 Apple computers. E-Week called it a fast-moving Flashback Trojan that uses Javascript code. It has alarmed IT security professionals. Many Mac users have not installed anti-virus software. Mac O-S X operating system users should run an update to get the latest patches. But, they said, if your Mac is more than 4-years old, anti virus software could slow it down. (E-Week)
  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he paid the government $630 for the weekly commute from his home in Northern California. But each round-trip flight costs the Pentagon $32,000. Panetta made it clear he would visit his family on the weekends when he took the job, be he has been doing that ever since he came to Washington as a lawmaker in the 1970s. He pays the normal government rate for a commercial airliner flight, but as Defense Secretary, he has to travel on secure military planes. (Federal News Radio)
  • A student veterans group is kicking 40 non-profit universities out of its network. Student Veterans of America suspects the schools set up fake chapters to appear “veteran friendly.” The nationwide group said school administrators were listing themselves as the chapters’ primary contacts, which violates its policies. The organization required chapters to be run by and for student vets. SVA is reviewing chapters at all for-profit universities. (VAntage Point)
  • Diplomats want the same perks for their pets when they fly. United Airlines offered reduced fees to military families transporting pets to new assignments last month. GovExec reported 3,000 members of the American Foreign Service Association have since written to the airline demanding the same benefit. (GovExec)
  • Video gaming is inspiring e-diplomacy tools at the State Department. Microsoft’s Kinect software for the Xbox responds to movement and voice commands. State officials are trying it out for presentations and 3-D teleconferencing. At $200, the Xbox is a fraction of the cost of presentation boards. State said it comes in handy when employees are spread out all over the world. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congress isn’t immune from the budget cuts hitting the rest of the government. USA Today reported that one in 10 House members are making “sizeable cuts” at the office for the second year in a row. The average House member’s budget was nearly $1.5 million last year. A 6 percent cut equals the salary of one or two staff members. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said last year’s cut was “skin deep.” More cuts would be “sawing at the bone.” (USA Today)