Tuesday federal headlines – November 5, 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.

  • The Obama administration is opening the door to limited employee bonuses in 2014, even if sequestration continues. In 2013, it halted all bonuses. The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance capping non-manager bonuses at one percent of aggregate salaries. It caps Senior Executive Services at five percent. The new policy limits bonus spending to 2012 levels. But that’s under a regular budget scenario. Should Congress not do away with sequestration, bonus spending would be cut in proportion to the sequester cuts. (Federal News Radio)
  • The government has a new HR director. New Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta began work yesterday, shortly after being sworn in. The agency says Archuleta planned to spend her first day in meetings and briefings with senior staff. In a blog post, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz notes Archuleta is the first Latina to hold the position and says she shares the president’s vision of diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce. Archuleta played a key role in President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Before that, she held several behind-the-scenes roles at different agencies. OPM notes that Archuleta started off as a teacher. (White House)
  • The General Services Administration wants to turn federal buildings into a giant laboratory for the latest, possibly greatest green technology. GSA is requesting information for an upcoming round of its Green Proving Ground program. It takes technology that has shown promise in early testing for both helping the environment and saving the government money. GSA is now testing advanced power strips and lighting systems programmed to adjust with occupancy. (FedBizOpps)
  • Defense budget cuts are closing in on a cherished department goal — to boost the size of special operations forces. Defense News reports, Special Operations were thought to be immune from the downsizing affecting the rest of the defense establishment. But the Marine Corps found out it won’t be allowed to add a planned 800 billets to its special ops forces. A Corps spokesman says Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the freeze. But Special Operations Command and Pentagon policy staff say they are unaware of the directive. They acknowledge a freeze is under consideration as the Pentagon embarks on a new quadrennial defense review. (Defense News)
  • Defense Department investigators say the head of Pentagon security misused his position and his employees. The inspector general released findings of a two-year ethics probe of Steven Calvery, director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency. Among other charges, the IG says Calvery picked favorites to promote, let employees take administrative leave to attend golf tournaments, ordered his staff to get his lunch and coffee and arranged for a non-employee to use the agency’s firing range, including its guns and instructors. The report notes that Calvery, through his attorney, is disputing the charges. Calvery has overseen Pentagon security since 2006. (Associated Press)
  • The identity of an IRS employee who allegedly committed a felony is kept secret because of IRS privacy rules. GovExec reports, the House Ways and Means Committee has solved the mystery of who it is. But members say they can’t release the name. The employee allegedly handed confidential tax information about a conservative group to a second employee, Matthew Meisel. Meisel in 2012 passed it on to the group’s political rival. The National Organization for Marriage could not get the IRS to release the first name under a Freedom of Information Act request, so it’s suing the agency. Committee Chairman Dave Camp says the law intended to protect taxpayers is being used as a shield for those that perpetrate this wrongdoing. (GovExec)
  • Lobbyists at a powerful tech association have walked off the job to join a rival group. Four executives have quit TechAmerica for the Information Technology Industry Council. The Huffington Post reports, it’s just the latest blow for TechAmerica. The organization has lost more than 75 clients since July. The executives who left include Trey Hodgkins, senior vice president of the Global Public Sector and a frequent guest on Federal News Radio. (Huffington Post)
  • The Homeland Security Department plans to send the White House its final private sector critical infrastructure cybersecurity plan on Friday. But already some in the private sector are grousing. They say the plan fails to incorporate any industry input after 30 meetings with DHS. Department officials insist the process was collaborative. One goal of the plan is to increase threat information sharing among industry players, and with the government. (Federal News Radio)