Wednesday morning federal headlines – Dec. 5, 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 federal coalition is launching a pre-emptive strike against further cuts to pay and benefits. The Federal-Postal Coalition represents 25 unions and associations. It’s taken out a full-page ad in today’s Politico newspaper. In it, the coalition says the government has cut more than $100 billion from federal employees’ compensation over a decade. It points out that feds haven’t gotten a pay raise in nearly three years. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said federal compensation reform should be part of a deficit-reduction package. (Politico/NTEU)
  • The Justice Department said it recovered nearly $5 billion last year in fraud against the government. That’s a single-year record. Attorneys got most of the money for violations of the False Claims Act. Associate Attorney General Tony West said the majority of recoveries came thanks to whistleblowers. Justice said it recovered another $3 billion from health care fraud recoveries. Most of these came from pharmaceutical and medical device makers. The department got big recoveries from drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and Merck. (DoJ)
  • The legendary former Texas Congressman Jack Brooks has died at 89. First elected in 1952, he spent 42 years in Congress. Brooks, a Democrat, was a close ally of the long-serving Speaker Sam Rayburn and of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Brooks left a huge mark on federal contracting as the sponsor of the Brooks Act, which increased competition in contracts for computers. He was also a principal sponsor of the Inspectors General Act and of the bill which created the Education Department. Brooks was riding in the Dallas motorcade when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. (Federal News Radio)
  • Critics are attacking a congressional plan to reform federal IT management before it’s even officially proposed. Tech contractors’ groups say the plan hurts their industry by promoting open-source solutions. TechAmerica, BSA, The Coalition for Government Procurement and the IT Industry Council say laws should be technology-neutral. Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) tried to drum up support for their plan at a forum earlier this week. They intend to introduce the bill, nicknamed FITARA (Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act), early next year. (Federal News Radio/TechAmerica)
  • The Senate has unanimously passed a 2013 defense authorization bill, ignoring a veto threat by President Obama. It would give members of the military a 1.7 percent raise. It would also cut tens of thousands of civilian jobs in the Defense Department, and it would speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The bill authorizes a smaller increase in Defense spending than has occurred in the last several years. The sticking point with the White House is a provision limiting the president’s power to move terror detainees out of the prison at Guantanamo Base, Cuba. Now the Senate must reconcile with the House version. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Justice Department is bumping up Freedom-of-Information-Act reporting requirements. It plans to publish reports four times a year on how agencies respond to requests. Agencies will receive guidance later this month on submitting data more frequently. Justice officials say that could be complicated for agencies that have not centralized their FOIA processing. But the department plans to provide a template to make it easier. Justice said the quarterly reports would help the public keep track of how the government is responding to open-records requests. (DoJ)
  • A man charged with detonating a bomb outside a federal office had spent time online studying explosives. Police said Abdullatif Ali Aldosary researched a type of explosive used in terrorist bomb plots. Aldosary allegedly set off a homemade explosive device outside a Social Security Administration office in Casa Grande, Ariz., Tuesday. No one was hurt. He’s been charged in federal court with damaging federal property and illegal firearms possession. The FBI is handling the investigation. (Federal News Radio)
  • A U.S. Marshal has been arrested and charged with blowing a federal agent’s cover. Federal prosecutors say Lucio Osbaldo Moya showed a picture of an undercover agent to coworkers to find out his identity. He then shared that information with his father, who was a drug dealer. The undercover agent had to be pulled and the father has since been sent to prison. Moya’s attorney claims he didn’t know his dad was a drug dealer. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.(Federal News Radio)