Wednesday federal headlines – June 26, 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.

  • A House committee says an IRS contractor parlayed a military prep school foot injury into status as a service disabled veteran, and that let him have access to contracts worth a potential half billion dollars. Those are among findings from an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Braulio Castillo, owner of Signet Computers, now called Strong Castle, won designation as a contractor of the year. But his disabled status occurred from an ankle injury at The U.S. Military Academy Prep School. After the injury, he managed to play football at another university. He didn’t claim disability from the VA until 27 years later, when he bought a computer services company. (House)
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency is planning a five-year, cloud computing contract worth $450 million. NextGov reports, the draft proposal says DISA wants commercial companies to supply online data storage, Web and database hosting, and virtual machines running applications. It’s the second run at a commercial-style cloud contract. DISA in 2011 tried to meld its network of data centers into its own cloud. But Congress, in the 2012 Defense Authorization Act, directed DISA to seek commercial cloud providers. (NextGov)
  • The beginning of the end might be in store for federal housing behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A group of eight senators, four Democrats and four Republicans, are proposing a bill to eliminate them. The proposal would replace Fannie and Freddie with a new Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation. It would provide backstop insurance available only after a substantial amount of private capital was used up. The housing crisis that started in 2008 swamped Fannie and Freddie, costing taxpayers nearly $200 billion. The White House says it welcomes an alternative to the old mortgage backing system. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congress’ investigation of political targeting at the Internal Revenue Service is becoming twisted and gnarled. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said the agency’s inspector general gave incomplete, perhaps misleading, testimony under oath. Connolly said J. Russell George did not admit the IRS flagged progressive political groups as well as conservative ones applying for tax-exempt status. That news came out in an internal agency review. Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee will try to force an IRS supervisor to testify. Lois Lerner pleaded the Fifth when she was called before the committee last month. Some Republicans say she actually waived that right against self-incrimination because she gave a short opening statement. (Rep. Gerry Connolly)
  • Vice President Joe Biden swears in Penny Pritzker as Commerce secretary this afternoon. A nearly unanimous Senate confirmed the Chicago billionaire yesterday. Just one senator, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), opposed her confirmation. Pritzker is a long-time friend and fundraiser for President Barack Obama. The president released a statement calling Pritzker a successful entrepreneur and proven leader. Pritzker’s family founded the Hyatt hotel chain. Pritzker has led several companies and serves as chairwoman of two investment firms. (Federal News Radio)
  • Once again the White House is threatening to veto a House spending bill. This time, it’s the fiscal 2014 budget for Agriculture and related agencies. The Obama Administration has a long list of objections. It says the bill would hurt rural development, food safety and undermine efforts to regulate Wall Street. The bill would not fully fund the Commodities Future Trading Commission. The White House statement is the latest in a series of veto threats against House GOP appropriations bills. (White House)