Tuesday federal headlines – April 29, 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Federal managers in 20 agencies and departments could get a slightly lighter workload thanks to a House bill that passed unanimously. The Government Reports Elimination Act would get rid of 79 annual reports agencies must file with Congress. Both the White House and members of Congress consider the reports superfluous. The bill was sponsored by the Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (D- Va.), the chairman and ranking members of the Oversight and Government Reform committee. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Mark Warner and Kelly Ayotte. Issa estimates the measure will save $1 million a year. (House)
  • A bill to promote financial transparency will land on the President’s desk. The House gave final passage yesterday to the DATA Act. It seemed like a no-brainer to members, who voted unanimously in favor of it. The bill would require agencies to standardize their spending data, then post it online. Supporters envision an enhanced version of USASpending.gov. The website now has only limited information. Much agency financial data is trapped in hard- to-read formats. The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department would establish a single standard. (Mark Warner)
  • The operators of the Thrift Savings Plan are boosting security at their data centers following a poor review. GovExec reports, auditors found basic security lapses at the facilities that house the TSP technology systems. Some people with access to the data centers could not prove they had management authorization. One person who had left the agency still had access to a secondary data center. The audit was conducted by the Labor Department and accounting firm KPMG. (GovExec)
  • President Barack Obama promises to get to the bottom of claims that the Phoenix VA hospital denied care to veterans. He has told Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to investigate. The inspector general is also investigating allegations that up to 40 veterans died while awaiting medical appointments. Obama spoke while on a visit to the Philippines. The VA says it already has reviewed appointment scheduling procedures and delays at the hospital. (Associated Press)
  • The Defense Department’s chief information officer is leaving. Teri Takai’s last day at work will be Friday. She notified members of the chief information officers council in an email. Takai has held the job for three and a half years. Her resignation comes just a few weeks after the departure of the assistant CIO, Bob Carey. He left at the end of March following a 31-year federal career and joined CSC. Until the White House names replacements, decision-making authority rests with Dave DeVries, one of Takai’s four deputies. Takai joined DoD in November 2010. She had been the CIO for California. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Army plans to destroy about $1 billion worth of ammunition, USA Today reports. The stockpile has grown to more than 557,000 tons. The Government Accountability Office says it’s not just the Army. The entire military has problems tracking its ammo. An automated information system isn’t really useful because each service inputs data in its own way. And that data can’t be trusted as accurate and complete. All told, the military manages $70 billion worth of ammunition at eight Army depots. In response, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper presses the department to be more efficient. He says the report shows antiquated systems have led to millions of dollars in wasteful purchases of ammo. (Government Accountability Office)
  • General Dynamics has landed a submarine building contract worth nearly $18 billion. Its Electric Boat subsidiary will get the task of building 10 new Virginia-class attack subs over the next five years. Electric Boat will team with Newport News Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries. Construction of the first sub will start this Thursday. The Navy operates 10 of the subs, and eight more are already under construction. The Harford Courant reports, the Navy spent 20 months haggling with the two companies. It wanted 10 additional subs for the price of nine, the number authorized by Congress. But Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney argued for 10 because one submarine was lost in a fire in 2012. (Associated Press)
  • An Air Force contract for 36 rocket cores faces a lawsuit over lack of competition. SpaceX is challenging a contract awarded to ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Musk says his own company’s rocket will be ready in a few months. He wants the Air Force to re-do the bidding to include SpaceX. At the time of the award, only the Boeing-Lockheed Martin rocket was certified. Washington Business Journal reports, Musk points out that ULA gets it rocket engines from a Russian supplier. The Air Force plans to use the rockets to send national security equipment into space. (Associated Press)
  • West Point is trying to attract more women. Males outnumber female cadets five to one at the military academy. West Point is increasing outreach to female high-schoolers, sending them letters about successful women graduates. The academy is trying to coach promising female candidates through the application process. It is not changing application standards. A greater percentage of students at the Air Force and Naval academies are women — 22 percent — compared with West Point’s 16 percent. (Associated Press)
  • The Justice Department will collect data on police stops and arrests in an effort to study racial bias in law enforcement. The data will go towards developing evidence-based strategies to improve relations between police and minorities. Attorney General Eric Holder says five cities will take part in the two-year pilot program. Holder says racial disparities in the criminal justice system “breed resentment” toward law enforcement. Initially, the department will spend nearly $5 million on grants. Holder says he hopes the program will build confidence in the justice system. (Justice Department)