Thursday morning federal headlines – Aug. 2, 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.

  • A bill passed by the House Tuesday means federal employees with serious tax debt could get the pink slip. Now the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act heads to the Senate. The measure was sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). It would make people with seriously delinquent taxes ineligible for federal employment, including those already employed. Applicants would have to certify that they weren’t seriously delinquent. Agencies would conduct periodic reviews of public records for tax liens. In 2010, active and retired feds and military personnel owed $3.4 billion in unpaid taxes, according to records released by the IRS. (Federal News Radio)
  • Lean budgets are teaching Homeland Security Department agencies to share. Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards told a House panel his office hasn’t received a budget increase in years. Yet, DHS is under pressure to conduct more investigations. Edwards said Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are helping out. Their budgets have risen. They agreed to lend people and effort to the IG’s efforts at rooting out corruption. But Edwards told the congressmen, his office could still use more money. (Federal News Radio)
  • A bill to look over the Homeland Security Department with a microscope has cleared a House committee. The bill would create an independent advisory committee to conduct a review of DHS management effectiveness. It was sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management. It got bipartisan support. The eight-member commission would have two years to come up with recommendations for improving efficiency in the way Homeland Security is run. (
  • General Services Administration employees are staying at the Gaylord resort in Nashville this week, but they might be having corn flakes for dinner. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members will ask GSA’s inspector general to check out this week’s Smart Pay conference. Some 6,000 people are attending, and the committee wants to know what the tab will be. Cynthia Metzler, the GSA’s chief administrative officer, told the committee that only 48 of the 6,000 are GSA employees. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) asked who was staying in the presidential suite at the Gaylord, and whether a scheduled steamboat ride was necessary. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congress and the administration continued to square off over sequestration. Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeff Zients appeared before the House Armed Services Committee. Members were expecting details on what military programs would be curtailed under automatic budget cuts. But Zients repeated what he’s been telling Congress for months. Until it has a 2013 budget, the White House can’t deliver a list of cuts. Congress is likely to vote on a six-month continuing resolution when it returns from its summer recess after Labor Day. Zients promised a plan by Jan. 2, the day sequestration is scheduled to occur. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department isn’t doing enough to combat fraud and abuse in its service-disabled veteran-owned small business program. That’s according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. It’s the ninth investigation of the program since 2009. The GAO said that while VA has made some improvements in combating its vulnerabilities, it’s still too inconsistent. A 2010 law allows small businesses to self-verify they are service-disabled and veteran-owned. VA plans to expand the program, but GAO recommended holding off until it improved the verification process. (Federal News Radio)