Friday federal headlines – May 10, 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Information sharing and whether the government is any good at it was Topic A on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers started their own probes into the Boston Marathon bombing. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the FBI did not initially share with his department the warnings it had received from Russia about one suspect. But he said he was not sure police could have prevented the incident even if they did know sooner. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told the House Homeland Security committee he believes the bombing could have been prevented. (Federal News Radio)
  • Secretary of State John Kerry says he’s ready to answer further questions about last September’s assault on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. His promise came a day after a long House hearing at which State Department officials testified. Rep. Darryl Issa (R- Calif.), chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee, is pressing for more information. Kerry said anyone found culpable in the incident would be sanctioned. But he stopped short of judging Wednesday’s testimony. Officials said senior State employees were demoted for contradicting the Obama administration’s initial explanations for the attack. (Federal News Radio)
  • If you’ve got money and are looking to travel in style, the General Services Administration has just the right airplane for you. GSA is auctioning off an old DC-9 that may have flown a president. GSA said the twin engine plane was primarily used as part of the Air Force Two fleet, which ferries the vice president around. But it may have acted temporarily as Air Force One. The plane, still painted with official colors, is sitting at Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona. Pictures posted by GSA show an all first-class interior. (GSA)
  • The Office of Personnel Management has slacked off in chasing pension fraud. That’s according to OPM’s inspector general. Federal Times reports, Patrick McFarland told a House subcommittee that in its zeal to clean up the retirement claims backlog, OPM examiners are referring fewer suspected fraud cases to the IG. And the ones they do refer are often past the statute of limitations. McFarland’s office received 92 fraud referrals in 20-0, but only 30 last year. He says he has a carload of frustrations in dealing with crooked federal pensioners. (Federal Times)
  • Seventy-two air traffic control facilities slated to close at night because of sequestration will remain open. The Federal Aviation Administration announced the reversal after speaking with airlines, businesses and pilots. Lawmakers rushed an emergency reprogramming measure through Congress last month. That was after air traffic controller furloughs caused delays at airports. The FAA is still weighing whether to close 149 small airport towers completely. It has given operators and communities another month to work out financial arrangements to pay for air traffic controller staffing themselves. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senate Republicans boycotted a committee vote yesterday on Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy. The eight GOP members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee failed to show up. Reuters reports, McCarthy has answered more than 1,000 written questions from senators, but Republicans say she has failed to address their concerns over transparency. Senate Republicans are also delaying a vote on President Obama’s pick for Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez, the current head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Reuters)
  • It’s OK to punish federal employees for lavish conferences but don’t take it out on Las Vegas. Lawmakers from Nevada say agencies have canceled or avoided meetings at local resorts and casinos, GovExec reports, Four House members from the Silver State have introduced a measure to strike any agency policy that prohibits travel to resort locations. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) says GSA, the Social Security Administration and the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security and Justice have such bans. Las Vegas was, of course, the site of that 2010 GSA training conference that cost more than $800,000. (GovExec)