Wednesday federal headlines – October 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.

  • President Barack Obama has brought in his ringer, Jeff Zients, to help fix Zients began the job Monday. It’s a short-term assignment before he becomes director of Obama’s National Economic Council next year. Zients’ track record includes a stint as the nation’s first performance officer. Before joining the Obama Administration, Zients made a fortune as a business manager and adviser. (Associated Press)
  • The White House has fired a senior official after discovering that he was the voice behind a snarky Twitter account. @netsecwonk tweeted biting critiques of White House officials, Capitol Hill figures and journalists. White House aides tell The Daily Beast, he was Jofi Joseph, the director of nuclear non proliferation for the National Security Council. On his Twitter biography, @netsecwonk describes himself as someone who “unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks.” The Twitter account has been deleted. Joseph was fired last week. (The Daily Beast)
  • The Architect of the Capitol says now is the time to patch up the 1,000 cracks and other weaknesses in the Capitol Dome. The first major restoration since 1960 begins next month. The AOC says it has hired a contractor following a full and open competitive bidding process. Scaffolding will cover the outside of the dome for about two years. Inside, the architect says there will be a white canopy system in the shape of a doughnut. The work is expected to cost about $59.5 million. The repairs aren’t expected to affect legislative work or tours. (Architect of the Capitol)
  • The IRS is pushing back the start of the tax filing season by up to two weeks. The agency blames the shutdown for the delay. In a statement, it says the closure came during the IRS’ peak period for readying its technology systems. About 90 percent of the agency was furloughed. Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel says the delay will give the IRS time to program, test and validate the systems. The new start date will be announced in December. The original date was Jan. 21. The IRS’ biggest labor union, the National Treasury Employees Union, says sequestration cuts already cut the IRS to the bone. Before the shutdown, sequestration had forced the agency to close for three days. NTEU says the IRS lost 10 percent of its budget over the last two years and 8,000 employees compared with a year ago. (Associated Press)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a draft of voluntary cybersecurity standards for companies. The core functions: Identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. The framework defines a set of best practices and provides a tool to help organizations plot their strategies. Meanwhile, the departments of Homeland Security, Commerce and Treasury are recommending incentives to get industry to follow the standards. (Federal News Radio)
  • Air Force officers who hold launch keys to long range nuclear missiles have been caught twice this year leaving the door open to command posts. It’s a major safety violation that commanders say often goes unreported. This revelation comes after the Air Force fired the two star general in charge of nuclear missiles, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, for misconduct. (Associated Press)
  • Today marks 30 years since the 1983 bombing of a Marines barracks in Beirut. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos and survivors will gather at a memorial near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The Beirut bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack on Americans prior to Sept, 11, 2001. 241 Americans were killed, many of them from Camp Lejeune. (Associated Press)