Wednesday morning federal headlines – April 14, 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.

  • Jeff Neely, the General Services Administration’s Region 9 Public Buildings commissioner not only spent taxpayer money lavishly, he intimidated employees who questioned him. GSA’s inspector general Brian Miller said one employee who objected to Neely was squashed like a bug. Miller spoke at one of several Congressional hearings into a Region 9 conference that cost more than $800,000. Neely is on suspension. At one hearing, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. His former boss, fired Public Buildings Commissioner Robert Peck, agreed to pay back the government for food served at a hotel room party. (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs plans to expand an online tool to help employees manage their careers. The website,, helps people understand what training or assignments they need to advance. It’s now designed for people in 10 fields covering about four in 10 employees. John Sepulveda, VA’s assistant secretary for HR, said the department would add five more occupations this fall. Eventually, the site will include all mission critical VA jobs. Sepulveda spoke at the FedSMC conference. (Federal News Radio)
  • It’s almost time for federal employees to get a little public love. Public Service Recognition Week starts May 6. This year marks 28 years of the annual celebration of federal, state and local employees. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced a resolution to honor public servants. His resolution was co-signed by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.). (
  • Defense Intelligence Agency has a new director. President Obama named Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn to the job. Flynn currently serves as the assistant director of national intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Washington, D.C. The president has nominated Army Maj. Gen.Theodore C. Nicholas to step into that role. (DIA)
  • The scandal involving women, the Secret Service and the Marine Corps has grown in scope. Conflicting testimony makes it unclear whether some 20 women in the hotels rooms of President Obama’s security detail in Colombia were prostitutes or simply visitors. Either way, members of Congress are fuming at the potential security risks. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the women could have had access to the president’s whereabouts or itinerary or other sensitive details about his trip. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a man who said the FBI did not hire him because he had diabetes. The D.C. Circuit panel said diabetes is a disability and the FBI’s decision was discrimination. It upheld a lower-court ruling ordering the FBI to award $100,000 to Jeffrey Kapche, who had applied for a special agent position in 2002. The bureau offered him the job pending completion of a medical exam. It revoked the offer after determining that Kapche would not be able to perform certain tasks. (U.S. Court of Appeals)
  • A federal union is saying Veterans Affairs is retaliating against an employee for speaking out. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder specialist Michelle Washington testified to a Senate panel last fall. She talked about staff shortages and other barriers to veterans’ receiving mental health care, the American Federation of Government Employees said after that VA gave her a poor evaluation and changed her duties. It is asking the Office of Special Counsel to protect Williams as a whistleblower. AFGE said the fear of retaliation may be stopping some federal employees from speaking out against agency practices. (Federal News Radio)
  • A group representing top career federal employees is calling for the repeal of provisions in a new financial disclosure law. The Senior Executives Association said the STOCK Act goes too far. The group said it could have a “chilling effect on the recruitment and retention of career executives.” The STOCK Act is meant to prevent lawmakers from profiting from insider knowledge. But it also requires career senior executives to disclose financial trades within 30 days, so the government can include them in a public database. The association said the reporting requirements are burdensome and an invasion of privacy. (SEA)
  • The Navy is planning to cut back on service contracts to save money. It will rely on staff for more things and negotiating lower prices for work that can’t be done in house. Leaders speaking at the Navy’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in Maryland said they’re convinced they could bring costs down. They’re rethinking contract structures, incentives and competitions. Navy and Marine Corps officials said they were also centralizing their acquisition processes and adding accountability measures. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House’s 2012 drug policy strategy emphasizes health care and prevention strategies. It also calls for maximizing federal support for drug law enforcement task forces, improving intelligence sharing and making sure that state and local law enforcement can access federal information on Mexico-based drug traffickers. It isn’t a sharp detour from past Obama adminstration efforts, but the White House said the strategy is flexible enough to respond to emerging problems like synthetic drugs. The ultimate goal is a 15 percent decrease in drug use over five years. (White House)