Thursday federal headlines – April 17, 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 Office of Management and Budget promises to release a detailed plan to fix the government’s security clearance process. Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert says federal contractors and employees will get the same treatment. Speaking to a group of contractors, she says their work on national security issues is just as critical as the work federal employees do. The plan will flesh out a government report released last month. It calls for a system to monitor clearance holders in real time. Now, people with clearances are re-investigated every few years. (Federal News Radio)
  • The IRS steps up work on identity theft and refund fraud. It has started nearly 300 new investigations this year. The agency is taking a new look at tax preparer fraud. It’s focusing on the misuse of the electronic filing identification numbers assigned to tax preparers. They’re known as EFINS, and the criminal investigations unit says there’s been an uptick in returns filed under fake or stolen ones. It has revoked or suspended about 400 EFINS this year. In one case, a Miami man was convicted of using an e-filing ID number to submit 52 fake tax returns, many with stolen identities. (IRS)
  • One of the leaders of the General Services Administration is saying goodbye to the agency. David McClure, associate administrator of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, let staff know on Wednesday that he plans to retire. NextGov reports that McClure’s last day will be May 31. His future plans are unclear. McClure was appointed to associate administrator in 2009. His charge was to help GSA serve the public through open government initiatives and to apply new technology to improve government operations. As part of this, McClure was at the helm of 18F, considered to be a digital incubator for the government. Before coming to GSA, McClure worked for Gartner’s government research team and was a vice president at the Council for Excellence in Government. He also spent 18 years at the Government Accountability Office reviewing IT systems. (NextGov)
  • The manufacturer that sued the Consumer Product Safety Commission over a complaint in its safety database may soon be revealed. Now known as Company Doe, it lost an appeal in federal court to keep its identity secret. The Richmond-based Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with consumer groups in saying possible injury to the company’s reputation does not justify sealing court records. Company Doe is the first manufacturer to challenge the agency’s website It contends that a complaint blaming one of its products for a baby’s death is false and misleading. (Associated Press)
  • The family of a computer scientist killed in the Navy Yard shootings has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The Florida relatives of Mary DeLorenzo Knight are suing the contractor that hired the shooter, Aaron Alexis. The family contends that The Experts, an IT firm, should have told the Navy about its employee’s documented mental health problems. The lawsuit says the Navy should not have given Alexis a security clearance. The family originally filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tampa. Because of jurisdictional issues, they are trying again in state court. Knight was a cybersecurity expert for Naval Sea Systems Command. (Associated Press)
  • The Navy is pitching in to help in South Korea, as part of a massive rescue operation to recover passengers. The assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard is responding to the scene of Korean passenger ship Sewol, which sank off the southwestern coast Wednesday. The ship had more than 450 people on board at the time of the incident, and 300 remain unaccounted for. Capt. Heidi C. Agle says Bonhomme Richard is standing by to provide support as needed in the search. (Navy)
  • In just one year, the number of foreign fighters in Syria has climbed drastically from 800 to about 8,000, according to Defense One. U.S. Central Command’s Gen. Lloyd Austin said during a keynote address to members of the intelligence community the situation in Syria is the most complex he has seen in 39 years. Austin, the top general in the region, called threats in the nation credible and urged the U.S. to work with its allies. His remarks came during the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s conference. (Defense One)