Friday morning federal headlines – Aug. 3, 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.

  • Two federal managers have departed in the wake of scandals. The former deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives left Thursday. William Hoover was reassigned in October in a shakeup over the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-walking operation in Mexico. Hoover was named in a congressional report fixing blame for the operation that resulted in the death of a Border Patrol agent. Paul Prouty has left the General Services Administration after 41 years of service. He was the Public Buildings Service commissioner for Region 8. The service has been criticized for an expensive Las Vegas conference it held in 2010. (Federal News Radio/GovExec)
  • Senate Democrats have thwarted a Republican effort to force defense contractors to give layoff notices. The notices would have gone out four days before the presidential election in November. Democrats called the move politically motivated. The provision, which was brought to the Senate Appropriations committee, would have overturned Labor Department guidance to contractors. That guidance says contractors do not have to warn employees about potential layoffs caused by sequestration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service paid $5 billion in fraudulent refunds last year, and the Treasury inspector general is worried another $21 million more will go out in the next five years. The IG said the IRS is detecting fewer fraudulent returns than actually occur. One problem is that IRS often receives individual returns months before it gets verifying information from employers. But it pays refunds in the meantime. The inspector general found that in one case, a single address in Michigan filed more than 2,000 returns and received $3.3 million in refunds. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Transportation Security Administration and its employees’ union, the American Federation of Government Employees, finished negotiations yesterday. If ratified by members, the contract would increase pay for performance, and it would take serious disciplinary matters out of the hands of managers and let the Merit Systems Protection Board decide them. But TSA screening officers are prohibited from negotiating over security matters, and they’re not allowed to strike or stage work slowdowns. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal managers upset with the STOCK Act have a new ally. The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit on behalf of 28,000 federal employees to block the new law. The STOCK act is designed to stop insider trading by high ranking government officials. The ACLU suit includes the Senior Executives Association and other groups, plus seven individuals as lead plaintiffs. The bill requires agencies to post detailed financial disclosure forms online. At first, the legislation applied only to members of Congress and their staffs. It was later extended to apply to 28,000 senior members of the executive branch, including military officers. (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs is reporting success on an agencywide cybersecurity initiative. Starting in April, VA required all of its notebook computers to have hard disk encryption. That’s a technology making it impossible for information to escape if a machine is lost or stolen. Like other large organizations, VA loses a few computers every month. Thirteen notebooks disappeared in June. CIO Roger Baker said all of them were encrypted. He added VA also installed software that lets the tech staff tell remotely whether a computer is properly secured. (Federal News Radio)