Senior State Dept. employee arrested for concealing relationship with Chinese officials

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, the Justice Department has charged a State Department employee with obstructing an official proceeding and making false statements to the FBI.

  • A State Department employee has been arrested for hiding correspondence she had with Chinese intelligence officials. Candace Claiborne has been charged with obstruction and making false statements to the FBI, according to the Justice Department. DoJ alleged Claiborne also failed to report thousands of dollars worth of gifts and benefits she received from the Chinese agents. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years in prison. (Department of Justice)
  • The White House detailed how it wants some civilian agencies to cut spending for the last five months of the fiscal year. President Trump wants them to absorb $18 billion in spending cuts to offset boosts to defense and homeland security. The White House proposed $40 million in cuts for Food and Drug Administration employee salaries and expenses, and DHS would lose $41 million for the Financial Systems Modernization shared services program. (Federal News Radio)
  • Bipartisan legislation in the Senate provides hope for one agency. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduce a bill to strengthen the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Trump administration’s budget blueprint proposes eliminating the council. The Senators said its modest $3.5 million budget helped save $5 billion in federal resources though. (Sen. Jack Reed)
  • Nearly 50 members of Congress want House Appropriations Committee leaders to reverse proposed budget cuts to the IRS. The Office of Management and Budget has proposed $239 million in cuts to the agency. The lawmakers ask the IRS be funded at twelve-point-nine billion dollars in fiscal 2018 to pay for new employees and fight fraud. (Federal News Radio)
  • Congress is taking another look at federal employee bonuses. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) has introduced the Stop Improper Federal Bonuses Act. It prohibits agency heads from giving bonuses to employees who broke the law or were fired or suspended for failing to follow agency policy. (Sen. Deb Fischer)
  • The open data movement gets a boost from Congress. Four lawmakers are trying again to ensure agencies are using the most modern approach to publishing data online. Two members of the House and two members of the Senate reintroduced the Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary Government Data Act yesterday. The OPEN Act would codify the requirement for agencies to publish their information online, using non-proprietary, machine-readable data formats. The bill would expand on OMB’s 2013 open data policy, in part, by requiring agency CIOs to create and manage enterprise data inventories. (Congress.gov)
  • One law enforcement agency may have misused a powerful authority. The Justice Department inspector general cited property forfeiture — something the department has done to the tune of $28 billion dollars over 10 years. Most of it is done by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The IG found weaknesses in the DEA’s oversight of seizures, and that the agency doesn’t use seizure data to see if forfeitures actually aid criminal investigations, or threaten civil liberties. (Department of Justice Office of Inspector General)
  • Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced new presidential nominations at DoD. Navy Rear Adm. Mat Winter is picked to take over the F-35 program office. If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll take over when Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan retires this summer, according to Defense News. Right now, Winter is the office’s deputy program executive officer. He had previously served as the chief of Naval Research. Also, Navy Rear Adm. David Lewis is tapped as the next director of the Defense Contract Management Agency. Lewis currently commander at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. (Department of Defense)
  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) introduced three veteran related, bipartisan bills. The Veterans Choice Accountability bill expands veterans’ access to non-VA medical care. Wittman also introduced a bill to create a pilot program to foster collaboration between non-profit vet organizations and education institutions. The third bill aims to speed the disability process for vets. (Rep. Rob Wittman)