Friday federal headlines – July 11, 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.

  • IRS lawyers are due in court today in a case related to the agency’s treatment of tea-party groups that applied for tax-exempt status. In a separate case, a federal judge has given the agency until Aug. 10 to explain, in writing, why it has no records of emails sent by the former head of its tax-exempt division. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued the order as part of a freedom of information lawsuit brought by the conservative group Judicial Watch. (Associated Press)
  • The Senate confirms Shaun Donovan to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. The move completes President Obama’s second-term cabinet shuffle. Donovan joins OMB when the agency is busy reviewing agencies’ 2015 budget requests. Not all senators support him. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says he’s unqualified. The final vote is 77 to 22. At the Veterans Affairs Department, Dr. Gerard Cox becomes acting medical inspector. He replaces Dr. John Pierce, who retired abruptly after a critical report from the Office of Special Counsel. (Associated Press)
  • Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the immigration crisis on the Texas border is bleeding the agency dry. He tells a Senate hearing, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will run out of money by mid-August unless Congress helps. Customs and Border Protection’s money will last until mid-September. The administration has asked for $3.7 billion. Without the emergency dollars, Johnson says DHS would be forced to shift money from other components, threatening the department’s ability to operate. Republicans want the money tied to a rapid process for returning unaccompanied children to their home countries. (Associated Press)
  • The Office of Special Counsel calls for an investigation into claims that U.S. officials mismanaged tribal remains. The independent federal agency says the Interior Department should take a close look at its Bureau of Reclamation. A whistleblower has filed a complaint against the bureau, saying it ignored a law requiring it catalog, preserve and ultimately return human remains and relics to American Indian tribes. The complaint says the bureau’s Sacramento office erased records within an Interior Department database and altered spreadsheets. (Associated Press)
  • The Selective Service is apologizing to 14,000 Pennsylvania men who got reminders to register for the military draft. The agency has been fielding calls from bewildered relatives because the men are a bit old for a draft. They were born between 1893 and 1897, making them more than 100 years old. The error happened when the State Department of Motor Vehicles mistakenly sent the agency a batch of records of men born between 1993 and 1997 and failed to specify the century. The Selective Service did not catch the mistake because it saw only the last two digits of the birth years. (Selective Service System)
  • A serious looking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visits Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He climbs in the cockpit of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and talks to flight and maintenance crews. He asked them for their assessment of the plane. Hagel tells an assembly of uniformed and civilian employees, the F-35 is the future of the military when it comes to fighter aircraft. He says it’s the largest DoD project. He acknowledges problems with cost, performance and schedule. But, Hagel says, all major platforms have had issues during development. He also acknowledges the toll sequestration budget cuts have had on training and readiness. He says the world is as complicated and dangerous as it’s ever been. Hagel takes on the pay and benefits debate swirling around the military. He says leadership must balance the need for fair compensation with training and readiness. (Defense Department)
  • Five California men are suing the government over an information-sharing program meant to help spot potential terrorist activity. The men say local law enforcement filed reports on their actions, even though they had done nothing wrong. One says he was trying to make a bulk computer purchase from Best Buy. Another says he was waiting at a train station. The reports were shared in national counterterrorism databases and, in some cases, the FBI followed up. The bureau, with the Homeland Security Department and local authorities, launched the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative after the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks. (American Civil Liberties Union)
  • A brand new supercomputer is coming to the National Nuclear Security Administration. The agency taps Cray for its next generation processor, dubbed Trinity. The computer will be operated in a joint arrangement of Los Alamos and Scandia National Laboratories. Those labs and the Lawrence Livermore lab will use the machine to run simulations as part of their program of maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons. By treaty, the United States can’t test weapons by exploding them underground. The machine will be housed at the Los Alamos Metropolis Computing Center. NNSA says the new machine is faster and has more memory than the super computer it will replace. Cray will start delivering pieces of the machine in mid 2015. Cray says the deal is worth $174 million. (National Nuclear Security Administration)