Tuesday federal headlines – June 25, 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.

  • NASA tapped a long-time employee from the field as its new chief information officer. Sources confirm, Larry Sweet will move to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Sweet steps into a vacancy left by Linda Cureton, who retired in April. At Johnson, Sweet oversees the information resources directorate. Cureton praised Sweet, describing him as a strategist who understands NASA’s culture. She predicted Sweet will focus on increasing collaboration among NASA centers. Richard Keegen has been acting CIO. (Federal News Radio)
  • The IRS acting director says the tax exempt unit had a long list of groups singled out for special scrutiny. Danny Werfel says the targeting went on until just days ago, when he ordered it stopped. Initial reports indicated only conservative groups with words like tea party or patriot in their applications were held up. But Werfel says examiners also flagged the words Israel, progressive and occupy. Staff members called the list BOLO — be-on-the lookout for. Werfel’s report, obtained by the Associated Press, blames the targeting on a lapse of judgment by former top officials. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal agencies are finding social media keeps communication going in all sorts of emergencies. The National Zoo is thanking a neighbor for helping to track down a red panda on the loose. One-year-old Rusty went missing yesterday morning. The Zoo took to Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. An Adams Morgan resident spotted the red panda in a tree. She tweeted a photo and called the zoo. Rusty is now in the animal hospital for an evaluation. Director Dennis Kelly says the Zoo is going over the exhibit with a fine tooth comb. Officials can’t recall another escape in Washington. (Federal News Radio)
  • Seven months ago, Signet Computers was honored as the Treasury Department’s Small Business Prime Contractor of the year. Now the company is under investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Federal Times reports, Signet, now called Strong Castle, has been stripped of its HUBZone status. A hearing today will examine whether it participated in waste, fraud and abuse of government set-asides, mainly in dealings with the IRS. Signet lists headquarters as a small office in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Competitors have questioned how it could fit dozens of people inside, while government checks went to an Arlington address. The company says it remains a service- disabled, veteran-owned business. (Federal Times)
  • What started out as one lawmaker’s fight for Army depot workers in Tobyhanna, Pa., could end in an overhaul of the federal wage system. Under the general schedule, the pay for white-collar federal employees in Rep. Matt Cartwright’s (D-Pa.) district is adjusted according to New York rates. Blue-collar workers at the same plant are under the federal wage system. That means their pay is based on the cost of living in Scranton, Pa. Cartwright’s new bill would direct the Office of Personnel Management to fix what he calls an “archaic” system. (Rep. Matt Cartwright)
  • The White House has brought a new crop of innovators to Washington to help agencies launch or overhaul major tech initiatives. The 43 finalists are software developers, engineers, tech entrepreneurs and others with solid track records in Silicon Valley and academia. Over the next six months to a year, some will help USAID apply tech solutions to global development problems. Others will help FEMA with disaster response technology. And still others will continue projects launched by past innovation fellows that seek to make government more accessible for both contractors and the public. (White House)