Tuesday morning federal headlines – April 9, 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 Securities and Exchange Commission has a new, permanent chairwoman. The Senate has confirmed Mary Jo White on a voice vote. She is the first former prosecutor to head up the agency. White spent nearly a decade as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. She helped convict a diverse bunch of criminals, including the blind sheik of the first World Trade Center bombing and Mafia boss John Gotti. As a private lawyer, she defended many of the large companies the SEC regulates. The agency is caught in a quagmire of rulemaking brought on by the Dodd Frank financial overhaul legislation. (Federal News Radio)
  • A blue-ribbon panel is recommending an overhaul of the federal Pell-grant program. The Wall Street Journal reports, a panel of secondary educators says recipients’ graduation and job success rates are too low. The Education Department handed out $354 billion in Pell Grants to more than 9 million college students last year. That’s half again more than in 2009. Spending has nearly doubled. But only a quarter of students under 25 ever graduate. Only 3 percent of older students get their degrees. The panel will recommend narrowing the program and finding ways to boost the graduation rate. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The White House is planning its second hackathon. It will invite what it calls civic activists, technology experts and entrepreneurs to join in. The National Day of Civic Hacking is scheduled for June 1. The White House has built an application programming interface to its petition site, We the People. It’s looking to have developers make production grade apps to be put on We the People so anyone can download them. (The White House)
  • It’s almost no contest. Once again, NASA’s communications team is taking home the prize at the Shorty Awards. It’s social media’s version of the Oscars. The agency’s main Twitter handle, @NASA, was named best in government. NASA’s Curiosity Rover was crowned Foursquare Mayor of the Year for using the check-in app from Mars. It’s NASA’s fourth year winning the Shorty. The crowd-sourced awards program started in 2009. (Mashable)
  • The Government Accountability Office releases its annual report on wasteful duplication by the federal government today. USA Today got an early copy and reports some highlights. Twenty-three federal agencies run hundreds of programs to support renewable energy. Each military branch develops its own camouflage designs. In all, GAO found 31 areas of duplication. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro presents the new study to the House Oversight Committee this morning. (USA Today)
  • IRS employees are painting a grim picture of an agency struggling under sequestration. They say cases are not being assigned because there is no one to work on them. Money isn’t being collected because there are not enough officers to do the job. Taxpayers are complaining about long waits for help over the telephone. And if you think someone has filed a fraudulent tax return in your name to get a refund, don’t expect help from the IRS until later this year. The National Treasury Employees Union polled its members across the government in February. It extracted these results about the IRS. (NTEU)