Thursday morning federal headlines - Oct. 6

Thursday - 10/6/2011, 8:25am 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • GSA officials are stumping on Capitol Hill to preserve funding for challenge grants. GSA provides money for Challenge.gov, which hosts agency-run contests. So far, 36 agencies have held competitions and have awarded $38 million in prizes. But Congress appears ready to cut the E-government fund. Dave McClure, associate administrator of GSA for citizen services and innovative technologies, said challenge grants pay for themselves by revealing ways to conduct government business more efficiently. (Federal News Radio)

  • The outgoing deputy defense secretary has warned that wishing away future budget cuts is "reckless and intemperate." William Lynn, who retires today, said it's better for the military to have fewer but healthier programs than to try and keep everything alive in the face of inevitable budget cuts. On his last full day in office, Lynn said the Pentagon cannot preserve all of its current programs and staffing levels. But, he said, across-the-board cuts would be the worst way for DoD to meet its fiscal challenges.

  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced more than $10 million in grants to community groups working to combat homelessness among veterans. VA's special grants program provides funding to organizations that operate housing and service centers for homeless vets. The latest grants, which benefit 26 projects in 10 states, is in addition to $59.5 million awarded earlier this year. (VA)

  • The next time DHS conducts a Quadrennial Review, it needs to give people more time to respond, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. That report followed up on how DHS handled its first QHSR, and auditors say that the feedback they got from stakeholders shows concerns about not having enough time to participate in the review. They were also concerned that nonfederal stakeholders didn't get as much of a say as they should have. GAO recommended that DHS consider time constraints and better ways to consult with non-federal stakeholders when it conducts its next review. (GAO)

  • A Florida personal injury law firm said it's investigating the theft of federal computer tapes, containing personal information on 4.9 million TRICARE patients. The law firm has not yet filed a lawsuit, NextGov reports, but has established a hotline for people affected by the data loss. The TRICARE computer tapes were stolen from the car of an SAIC employee in San Diego last week. The law firm said TRICARE should have offered free credit-card and identity-theft monitoring to the affected people. (NextGov)

  • Members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting have come out in support of a new bill aimed at preventing waste overseas. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), establishes a permanent Inspector General to oversee contractors in war zones and root out waste, fraud, and abuse. Commission members told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the bill is a "no brainer." Creating a permanent warzone IG was one of the key recommmendations of the Commission, which officially disbanded at the end of last month.

  • More than a dozen banks are accused of defrauding veterans out of millions of dollars, according to a Washington Post report. A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit claims the banks hid illegal fees in veterans' home refinancing loans.Under VA rules, lenders are not allowed to charge attorney's fees or settlement closing fees. Two mortgage brokers who brought the suit say they were told to hide those fees among other costs. (Washington Post)

  • A slip up at Veteran's affairs led to the partial invalidation of 147-thousand PIV ID cards. VA's Inspector General reported that missing procedures and controls led to thousands of cards being issued without checking applicants against lists of known or suspected terrorists. Identity documents were also not properly authenticated the report found. The IG recommended VA fix its process and reauthenticate the cards it has already issued. The process is expected to cost more than $6 million.

  • For more than 15 years, service members at Thule Air Base, Greenland, have been saving scrap metal instead of throwing it away. Now all that hoarding has paid off, Federal Times reports. The base sold 15,000 tons of scrap for $1 million. Under a 2007 presidential order, agencies can keep money they earn from recycling and conservation. Thule's scrap came from old fuel tanks and pipelines. It sat until the price of scrap metal rose high enough to make the sale worthwhile. (Federal Times)