Thursday federal headlines – May 23, 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.

  • Katherine Archuleta could be the next director of the Office of Personnel Management. President Barack Obama will nominate his former campaign aide today. Archuleta also served as chief of staff to former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Archuleta is Latina. The President has been criticized by advocacy groups for the dearth of Latinos in his second-term Cabinet after Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar both left. (Federal News Radio)
  • Dan Tangherlini has been the acting chief of the General Services Administration for 13 months. Now the Obama administration has nominated him for the permanent job. Tangherlini came into the job in the wake of the conference spending scandal that led to the resignation of Administrator Martha Johnson in April 2012. Before coming to GSA, Tangherlini was Assistant Treasury Secretary for Management and the Chief Financial Officer. (Federal News Radio)
  • Tens of thousands of current and former Homeland Security Department employees are at risk of identity theft. Officials discovered a security flaw in a contractor’s system for processing background investigations. Employees at headquarters, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were affected the most. Officials say so far there’s no evidence any data was actually taken. DHS wouldn’t name the contractor, but it issued a stop-work order and cure notice. (Federal News Radio)
  • Auditors say red tape and lack of communication at the Veterans Affairs Department are hurting student veterans. The Government Accountability Office finds VA takes one-third longer than expected to process new applications and benefits under the Post 9-11 GI Bill. GAO acknowledges the department is trying to speed up its processes, but it criticizes the VA for failing to tell veterans about delays in benefits. Those delays mean vets are taking on personal debt or dropping out of school. GAO says the department needs to improve communication with vets and work with schools to arrange for back-up financial aid. More than 500,000 vets use the program. (GAO)
  • An advisory panel says the White House and Congress must develop a tougher response to cyber thieves. The IP Commission says the United States has not kept up with the growth of trade-secret theft. It says the Justice Department and FBI need more resources. It also recommends developing better protections for businesses so they can retrieve their stolen information. And the commission says only when the dangers of hacking exceed the rewards will this type of crime diminish. It warns that high rates of IP theft are increasing the risk of other cyber and related crimes, especially with regard to counterfeit software use. The panel consists of former military and civilian officials and business leaders. (IP Commission)
  • The military’s sexual assault prevention workers will stay on the job even as other civilian employees of the Defense Department take up to 11 days of furloughs. The Pentagon says it is exempting from furloughs those who work in its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. A spokeswoman says that will let the program take care of victims and implement new initiatives swiftly and efficiently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that all sexual assault prevention and response workers be re-trained and re-certified following a report showing a dramatic increase in sexual assaults in the military. (CNN)
  • She promised to plead the fifth and she did. Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS exempt organizations unit, told House lawmakers she broke no laws and never lied. Then she stopped answering questions. It was all part of a six-hour hearing on how the IRS came to single out conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, dismissed her after nine minutes, but said she could be called back to testify. Members want to know why Congress wasn’t told of what went on, once higher-ups in the agency were informed. (Associated Press)
  • Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel has launched an internal review of the agency. He made the announcement in an email to staff yesterday — his first day on the job. Werfel says the agency will work with its inspector general, the Justice Department and Congress to hold the responsible parties accountable for unfairly scrutinizing conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. He calls the actions “missteps” that are “inexcusable” and “cannot be tolerated.” The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation. Congress is promising more hearings. (Associated Press)
  • Lawmakers are urging the Postal Service to slow-down its cost-cutting measures. 47 House members have signed a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe asking him to keep all mail processing facilities open until next spring to give Congress more time to pass overhaul legislation. They argue that any cuts the Postal Service makes now to its network would limit their ability to take action. They also say it would be ‘inopportune’ of the agency to close facilities at a time of high unemployment. The Postal Service wants to shutter dozens of mail processing facilities this year. (APWU)
  • McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas has been chosen to receive the first actvice-duty KC-46 aerial refueling tanker. Training on the new plane will take place at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. A third location, Pease Air Guard Station in New Hampshire, will be the first operational reserve base. The first plane won’t be delivered for several more years, but already the military is planning on where it will be housed and maintained. Air Force leaders have been conducting a competitive analysis of several bases. McConnell won out over Fairchild in Washington and Grand Forks in North Dakota. Officials liked Altus for training because it also has big planes on which to practice refueling maneuvers. (Air Force)
  • If you’re worried about your official Twitter account being hacked, the micro-blogging site has an answer. It is now offering two-factor authentication for logging on to an account. But you’ll need your cell phone to be able to do it. First, you register the phone number with Twitter. Then, each time you log in, Twitter will send your phone a text containing a unique, six-digit code. The code is a second password to finish the log-in. (Twitter)