Wednesday federal headlines – March 19, 2014

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 Pentagon steps up surveillance of employees and contractors with security clearances. It’s one of four actions the Defense Department is taking in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings. An automated program will collect data from police and other sources 24/7. A task force concludes the September massacre of 12 people was preventable. It blames the company that employed the shooter, Aaron Alexis, for not sharing its concerns about Alexis’ behavior with the Navy. The task force says the Defense Department’s approach to security is outdated. It needs to focus more on insider threats. (Associated Press)
  • A key player pleads guilty to conspiracy in a massive Navy bribery scheme. Alex Wisidagama is the cousin of Leonard Glenn Francis, the head of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. The long-time contractor is accused of bilking the Navy out of at least $20 million. Military investigators say Wisidagama and Francis bribed Naval officers with prostitutes and fancy vacations. In exchange, they got inside information that allowed them to over-bill the service. Wisidagama faces 10 years in prison and must pay back the government. Francis has pleaded not guilty. At least six naval officers have been implicated. (Associated Press)
  • The Social Security Administration begins fast-tracking benefits claims of veterans with severe disabilities. The express lane is for vets already deemed 100 percent permanently and totally disabled by the Veterans Affairs Department. When they apply for Social Security, they will have to show their VA notification letter. Social Security cautions that the expedited service does not guarantee it will approve benefits. The agency has its own requirements separate from VA. (Social Security Administration)
  • An IRS worker takes home a thumb drive with colleagues’ personal information forcing IRS Chief John Koskinen to send out an alert. Twenty thousand current and former employees could be at risk of exposure or identity theft. The IRS says the worker hooked the thumb drive into an unsecured home computer network. The drive held names, social security numbers, and addresses. In a statement, the IRS says there’s no evidence the information has been used inappropriately. It says no taxpayer information was involved. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp promises a thorough look into the breach. (Associated Press)