The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
In today’s Top Federal Headlines, an attorney for the IRS’ Office of Professional Responsibility is arrested for conspiring to sell methamphetamines, and was even seen consuming the drug.
An attorney with IRS’ Office of Professional Responsibility was arrested for conspiring to sell methamphetamines. Federal attorneys said Jack Vitayanon was caught negotiating the sale of meth to undercover sources and even seen smoking the drug in a video chat with one. He then shipped it to New York from his D.C. apartment. The case is being handled by the Justice Department’s Long Island Criminal Section. (Department of Justice)
A Utah congressman wants to take away the ability of two agencies to enforce laws. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, it would remove the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. He also brought forth a bill to sell more than 3 million acres of federal land in his state. (Rep. Jason Chaffetz)
Tax delinquent federal contractors are coming under fire from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Members are requesting the Government Accountability Office to analyze the accuracy of self-certifications by vendors and how often agencies award contracts to tax delinquent companies. They also want to know the challenges contracting officers face in finding information about vendors’ tax issues. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
The effort to reform the security clearance process is getting new attention on Capitol Hill. House lawmakers heard from the new National Background Investigations Bureau today and its progress in fixing long-standing issues. Over the last year, one area where agencies have made progress is accepting other agency’s investigations. Bill Evanina is the the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the National Counterintelligence Executive. He says the reciprocity rate is around 86 percent for all security clearances governmentwide.
Defense secretary James Mattis is beginning a beef up of the military. In a memo, Mattis stated the Defense Department will look into increasing force structure and submit at 2018 budget by May. The memo also stated that DoD will amend President Obama’s 2017 budget request. The request will ask for more immediate funds dealing with the wars overseas. (Federal News Radio)
The Air Force weighs in on the effects of the federal hiring freeze. Officials said Wednesday that like all of the military services and agencies, they’re still awaiting guidance on which civilian jobs might be exempted from the freeze. But based on historical patterns of natural attrition, the civilian workforce of 179,000 people will shrink by about 3 percent over the next four months, leaving about 13,000 jobs vacant. The Air Force said it’s hoping that more guidance from DoD will offer relief in critical hiring areas like cyber and depot maintenance. (Air Force)
The chairman of the council of the inspectors general on integrity and efficiency worries what the hiring freeze will do to federal watchdogs. Michael Horowitz, who is also the Justice Department IG, told Congress that while it’s important to spend money wisely, during the sequestration freeze, the IG community was hit very hard. (Federal News Radio)
The Defense inspector general cleared three high level intelligence officials of allegations by whistleblowers. Major General Steven Grove, the Central Command intelligence director, and two of his civilian deputies were accused of coloring secret intelligence reports, so CENTCOM looked more successful against the Islamic state. The IG interviewed 120 witnesses and searched 400,000 documents — but it found no evidence of falsified intelligence products. And it found no evidence of products having been deliberately slanted. (Department of Defense Office of Inspector General)
The man set to run the Veterans Affairs Department promised change at his nomination hearing. Dr. David Shulkin said if confirmed, there will be more accountability and greater access to care, however VA will not be privatized under his watch. He also wants to redesign the Veterans Choice Program. Committee Chair Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) expressed confidence in Shulkin’s confirmation. (Federal News Radio)