Monday morning federal headlines – June 4, 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.

  • All 10 funds in the Thrift Savings Plan fell in May, with eight posting numbers in the red. That continues a downward trend from April. The I Fund fell the most, at 11.4 percent. Only the G and F funds stayed in the black, but they still posted smaller gains than the previous month. Despite dipping into the red last month, all of the TSP Funds except for the I Fund are still showing positive year-to-date returns. The S Fund leads the pack with a 5.78 percent return. (Federal News Radio)
  • Unemployment among new veterans shot up last month, or so it would seem from the numbers. One in eight, or 12.7 percent, post 9-11 veterans are looking for work. That’s a 3 percent increase in a month. Veterans Affairs said monthly swings are normal. The good news, officials said, is that unemployment has steadily, if modestly, declined over the past two years. VA said it was continuing to hold job fairs all over the country and its other programs were proving popular. A new program to retrain unemployed vets had 12,000 applicants in the first two weeks. (VA)
  • Secret documents linked to the Watergate scandal may become public soon. The Justice Department said there was no reason to keep many of the judicial records sealed. The agency has responded to a legal request made by a Texas history professor. He wanted to read testimony by the former FBI agent hired to eavesdrop and transcribe the conversations at Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972. The Justice Department said hundreds of papers could be released. But others, including documents containing personal or grand-jury information or about the content of illegally obtained wiretaps, should be kept sealed. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal prosecutor who helped lead a foreign tax-evasion crackdown is leaving the government. The Wall Street Journal reported Kevin Downing will join the Washington law firm of Miller and Chevalier later this month. A 15-year prosecutor, Downing led the probe of the Swiss banking firm UBS AG. The company in 2009 admitted to helping wealthy Americans evade federal taxes. Downing ran similar investigations against Credit Suisse Group and other Swiss banks. The Journal reported Downing was also part of the federal team that accused KPMG executives of tax evasion. But a judge dismissed the charges and reprimanded the Justice Department for overzealousness. (Wall Street Journal)
  • More ripples are forming in the General Services Administration financial scandal that began with a Las Vegas conference. Congress is releasing new documents to the press showing that since 2008 the GSA has given more than $1 million in bonuses to employees being investigated for misconduct. That includes about 84 workers who received annual awards of as much as $18,000. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told the Kansas City Star the GSA has a culture of entitlement that rewards bad judgment. In response, GSA said it was reviewing bonus payouts. Records given to the Washington Post also revealed out-of-control travel expenses charged by 95 Public Buildings Service employees who work from home. Their $750,000 in spending surprised even their regional commissioner Jeff Neely, who was at the heart of that first Las Vegas scandal. (Kansas City Star/Washington Post)
  • Intelligence-support company Calnet has agreed to pay the federal government more than $18 million. The Justice Department said Calnet overstated its rates and over-charged for its translation services at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities. A whistleblower who used to work for Calnet filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act. He will receive $2.6 million of the settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, Calnet does not have to admit liability. (Justice)
  • Two members of Congress are impatient with the pace of contract negotiations between the Transportation Security Administration and its employees. Last year the employees elected the American Federation of Government Employees to represent them. The Washington Post reported that Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) sent letters to both sides. They told them to hurry up and get the contract done. Thompson is ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. He said it took 10 years to get a union in TSA, so it shouldn’t take another 10 years to negotiate a contract. (Washington Post)