Monday Morning Federal Newscast - June 28th

Monday - 6/28/2010, 8:34am EDT

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The new TSA administrator hasn't even landed in his new office, but federal labor unions aren't waiting to schedule meetings on collective bargaining rights. The Senate on Friday confirmed John Pistole by a voice vote. Soon after, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union announced plans to petition him on collective bargaining rights for TSA screeners. Both unions are vying to become the exclusive representative for TSA. So far, Pistole hasn't given his views on bargaining rights. No word on when he will be sworn in.

  • More than 30 IRS employees took advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit -- even though they may already own property, reports An inspector general's report says that's at least one reason the government has paid more than $25 million dollars in fraudulent claims. Also behind that number, 1,300 prison inmates received money while still behind bars.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has frozen the assets of a retirement benefits consultant the agency says defrauded federal employees and retirees. The SEC alleges that the Federal Employee Benefits Group and F&S Asset Management Group, owned by Kenneth McLeod of Jacksonville, Florida, are nothing more than a Ponzi scheme that took investors for $34 million since 1988. McLeod was found dead last week, apparently of a self-inflicted gun shot wound. His estate is charged with fraudulently soliciting government employees to invest in a non-existent bond fund. The SEC says McLeod used the money for a lavish lifestyle, including annual Superbowl trips for himself and 40 friends.

  • The Office of Management and Budget unveils new guidelines to address how agencies manage and customize their Web sites. Part of the memo focuses on privacy: agencies will need to provide a 30-day notice and comment period, before collecting personal information. It also contains rules for popular tools, like cookies which can be used to track a users activity. But agencies cannot track activity outside of government sites. The memo is designed to bring federal Web sites into parity with those in the private sector.

  • CIA director Leon Panetta, in an ABC News television interview, confirmed that the agency hired Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, to provide security in Afghanistan. Last week, the Washington Post reported the contract is worth $100 million. Blackwater was involved by a series of controversial incidents, including a 2007 shootout in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Panetta said that the CIA had few companies to choose from, and that Xe Services had underbid rivals by $26 million.

  • Federal contractors may lose their ability to to spend freely on election-year advertising. The House has passed a campaign-reform bill that would stop contractors from sponsoring ads, if they have at least one contract worth $10 million dollars or more, according to GovExec. It measure would also affect companies that have received money from the Troubled Asset Relief program and firms with at least 20-percent ownership in a foreign country. The move is in response to a January Supreme Court decision that opened way for companies to spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads.

  • Trying to play catch up, the government is renewing its attempt to obtain a 21st century anthrax vaccine. The existing supply is based on 50-year-old technology and is supplied by only one company. The Wall Street Journal reports, that company -- Emergent BioSolutions -- is in a pitched battle with Pharm Athene to replace the vaccine. A third company won a contract in 2004 but had manufacturing problems and faced a lobbying flurry by Emergent. Another try was made in 2001. Health and Human Services is leading the effort, after the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction gave the government an "F" for bio terror readiness.

  • The Obama administration says it will nearly double the available amount of wireless communications spectrum over the next decade. President Obama will sign a presidential memorandum that will commit the federal government to auctioning off 500 megahertz of federal and commercial spectrum. The move should help keep up with the ever-growing demand for high-speed video and data transmission to cell phones, laptops and other mobile devices.