Friday federal headlines – June 28, 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.

  • The Internal Revenue Service inspector general is disputing a major claim made by the agency’s new acting director. The director, Danny Werfel, told lawmakers that IRS’ tax exempt unit held up both liberal and conservative groups applying for tax-free status. But IG Russell George said only a fraction of liberal applicants were held up, while 100 percent of conservative applications were delayed. The counter accusations came during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing. Democrats on the committee are criticizing George for his original report, which left out details about the scrutiny of progressive groups. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal contractor groups are telling the General Services Administration, they’re not happy with what’s going on in the agency. They are worried about backlash from a recent inspector general report saying acquisition managers interfered with contract officers. The groups sent a letter to Tom Sharpe, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service. In it, they warned of a potential chilling effect on managerial involvement with GSA’s multiple award schedule system. The letter is signed by the Coalition for Government Procurement, the Professional Services Council and Tech America. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate confirmed Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as the new Secretary of Transportation. Foxx collected all 100 votes. The close political ally of President Barack Obama replaces Ray LaHood, who served since the start of the administration. Foxx is a proponent of light rail and streetcars. But he also oversaw an expansion of the airport servicing Charlotte. He’ll face the challenge of moving along the FAA’s NextGen project. The multi-million effort aims to replace radar-based air traffic control with a new system using GPS. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama’s second-term team is slowly coming together. The Senate confirmed several agency heads yesterday. Dan Tangherlini got the nod for permanent administrator of the General Services Administration. The Senate approved Allison MacFarlane for a new five-year term as chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both Tangherlini and MacFarlane had come in to their agencies as fixers following internal scandals. The Senate confirmed a couple of key positions inside the White House. Howard Shelanski will be the government’s top regulator as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. And Brian Deese will be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. (White House)
  • The State Department could get an inspector general for the first time in more than five years. President Barack Obama has nominated Steve Linick for the position. While the Senate must confirm him, the House is putting in its two cents. The Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bipartisan resolution yesterday calling for a permanent I.G., aying the vacancy has hampered reviews of the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, last year. More recently, a whistleblower has suggested the State Department was interfering with internal investigations of high-ranking ambassadors. Linick now serves as the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Before that, he spent years at the Justice Department ferreting out fraud. (White House)
  • How do you reward top performers in your agency if you don’t have any thank- you money? The Office of Personnel Management is asking agency leaders that question. In a new memo, acting Director Elaine Kaplan says she welcomes suggestions for rewarding presidential rank honorees. She says OPM is doing the usual vetting process for finalists. That includes reviewing their personnel records and doing criminal background checks. The Presidential Rank Awards go to top federal career executives. The White House has suspended the hefty bonuses that go with them, saying budgets are too tight. (CHCOC)