Tuesday federal headlines – May 6, 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.

  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is staying put despite calls for his resignation. The White House says President Barack Obama remains confident in Shinseki. The American Legion wants him to step down following scandals at several VA hospitals. The veterans’ group says the department’s leaders follow a “pattern of bureaucratic incompetence.” It targets Under Secretary of Health Robert Petzel and Under Secretary of Benefits Allison Hickey too. (Federal News Radio)
  • A government watchdog says Defense Department buyers need to do a better job of fostering competition. The department awarded contracts through a competitive process just 57 percent of the time last fiscal year. That’s the same as in fiscal 2012. The Government Accountability Office reviewed 14 justifications for skirting the competitive process. Most of the time, the Defense Department says there’s only one good source to buy from or it lacks technical data. GAO says recent initiatives to move away from single suppliers are promising if used early on. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Social Security Administration is considering closing field offices to boost customer service. The American Federation of Government Employees says more than 1,200 offices could close and as many as 30,000 employees could lose their jobs. The plan, called Vision 2025, emphasizes online, self-service options for customers. The long-term strategy was drafted by consultants at the National Academy of Public Administration. Social Security has asked employees for feedback. (American Federation of Government Employees)
  • A new survey is drawing attention to unhappiness at the top of the federal career ladder. The Senior Executives Association says half of members polled say morale at their agencies is low or very low. One-third say they are not satisfied with performance evaluations. They say the process is getting worse not better. They see their bosses as sluggish and opaque about it, and they cite a lack of respect. But, in the end, most say they received bonuses last year worth up to 6 percent of their salaries. Many say those at the top of the General Schedule fare better pay-wise. SEA polled about 400 members in February. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Navy has reprimanded a former top leader of U.S. nuclear forces for gambling, but it’s letting Rear Admiral Timothy Giardina remain in uniform as a staff officer. Giardina was the number-two nuke commander. The Navy says he violated the military’s code of conduct. A Navy criminal investigation failed to determine with certainty how he got fake poker chips that he used last summer at a casino in Iowa. The Navy says Giardina will not challenge the letter of reprimand and the $4,000 fine by requesting a court-martial. (Associated Press)
  • Will reform at Voice of America restore focus to the broadcaster or turn it into a propaganda machine? The Hill Newspaper reports, that’s the debate taking place as the House considers making dramatic changes to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees government-based news outlets like VOA. A bill unanimously passed by the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee would require that its programming conform to the broad public diplomacy and foreign policies of the U.S. Critics of the legislation say doing so sacrifices the broadcaster’s editorial independence. Supporters say VOA’s journalism has become fluff and the bill could bring it back to more serious news coverage with greater scrutiny. (The Hill)