Tuesday morning federal headlines – Feb. 5, 2013

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The Office of Management and Budget has proposed an overhaul to the way the government accounts for $600 billion in grants each year. The draft policy aims to make the process more uniform across agencies. OMB Controller Danny Werfel, in a blog, says the new policy eliminates duplicative requirements and focuses more on waste, fraud and abuse. For instance, it raises the size of grants that receive intensive audits from $500,000 to $750,000, so agencies spend more effort on the higher risks. OMB first proposed the policy rewrite in March. It received 350,000. (Federal News Radio)
  • After a court told the Internal Revenue Service it lacks the power to regulate tax return preparers, the agency is going ahead with telling them to obtain an ID number. GovExec reports, the U.S. District Court modified a ruling from Jan. 18 that barred the IRS from any regulation of tax preparers. When the Justice Department appealed, the court said the IRS could continue to require the IDs so it could track the preparers’ performance. But the agency still isn’t allowed to impose testing or certification on tax preparers. The IRS already has 250 testing centers. It plans to appeal the rest of the earlier ruling. (GovExec)
  • The General Services Administration has doubled the number of companies certified to sell medium-security cloud computing services to agencies. Now there are two. NextGov reports, GSA’s Fed-RAMP office has endorsed services from CGI Federal. Earlier, it granted cloud certification to Autonomic Resources. Nearly 80 companies have applied for Fed-RAMP certification. Getting it requires undergoing an audit by a third party also approved by GSA. Agencies can contract for cloud services with Fed-RAMP companies without having to do further security testing. (NextGov)
  • Severe nature has been hard on federal landmarks. First an earthquake crumbled parts of the National Cathedral and cracked the Washington Monument. Now, three months after Superstorm Sandy, the Statue of Liberty is still closed. The statue itself wasn’t damaged. But the National Park Service says all of the electric, water, sewer, phone, security and radio systems on Liberty Island were destroyed. The Wall Street Journal reports, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is demanding to know what’s taking so long. But Park Service officials say they have no idea how long it will take for the place to reopen to the public. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The White House is rejecting talk that President Barack Obama is going pale and male in making up his second term cabinet. Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett told CNN she expects to see more women and people of color tapped for key roles. Obama is considering women for Commerce secretary and Office of Management and Budget chief. The president picked white men to lead the departments of State, Defense, Treasury and the CIA, leading some critics to question his commitment to diversity. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate has approved a measure to boost funding for diplomatic security following attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya and Turkey. The bipartisan measure would let the State Department tap more than $1 billion. The money originally was set aside for activities in Iraq, but the government has since scaled back operations. The department had asked for more than twice that amount in its 2013 budget for overseas security. Still, this money would fund security upgrades at overseas posts and additional guards. The bill now goes to the House. (Federal News Radio)