Thursday morning federal headlines - Aug. 23, 2012

Thursday - 8/23/2012, 9:02am EDT

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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Internal auditors at the Defense Information Systems Agency need more training. So much so, the Pentagon inspector general gave them a failing grade. The IG looked at several internal audits done by DISA staff. It found auditors weren't complying with their own manual, and they weren't following Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards. The IG recommended more education and more frequent reviews. DISA's director, Army Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, has accepted the recommendations. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Congressional Budget Office is warning lawmakers to end their budget stalemate. Otherwise, the nation could plummet into another recession. CBO said 2 million Americans could lose their jobs by the end of next year. Analysts said sequestration, those automatic spending cuts set to kick in in January, combined with already-scheduled tax hikes would total $500 billion, and that would be too much for a struggling economy to handle. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Justice Department joins a whistleblower lawsuit against the Gallup Organization. The suit accuses the company of false claims against the government. The whistleblower, Michael Lindley, said Gallup routinely inflated cost estimates for contracts with the U.S. Mint and the State Department. A spokesman for Gallup said the company flatly denies the allegations. Lindley was Rookie of the Year for Gallup in 2009. He was fired six months later after raising concerns. The Mint had Gallup conduct market research for the sale of new coins. (Federal News Radio)

  • A superbug spread through the nation's leading research hospital in Bethesda last year killing six patients before it could be stopped. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health scrubbed with bleach, locked down patients and even ripped out plumbing. The deadly bug was finally traced to its source by gene detectives analyzing the germ's DNA. The source was a New York City patient who was admitted for a medical study. (Federal News Radio)

  • The General Services Administration went on a hunt for great ideas and said it came back with $5 million in savings. GSA asked employees to suggest ways to cut costs. Staff voted. Now administrators plan to implement the top five ideas. They will end a $1 million survey and transfer others from paper to Web. They also plan to cut newspaper and magazine subscriptions. GSA is creating a website to let vendors share similar ideas. (GSA)

  • Two hundred sixty Homeland Security employees were convicted of crimes in 2011, the inspector general said. In its latest summary, the IG said it conducted 845 investigations and recovered or saved $45 million. Many of the criminal employees were corrupted Customs and Border Protection officers. One pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy and received a 110-month sentence. A Border Patrol agent offered to sell secret information to smugglers. He received a 20- month sentence. (OIG)

  • Republican lawmakers want to know why a top federal official is on paid leave from his agency while earning a six-figure salary from a Fortune 500 company. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are demanding answers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They said Bill McMahon is now working at JP Morgan in the Philippines. But he's still on ATF's payroll as a full-time employee in its office of professional responsibility. The lawmakers said it looks to them as though the agency is trying to let McMahon reach retirement eligibility while on extended leave. McMahon was deputy assistant director for field operations and oversaw parts of Operation Fast and Furious. (House.gov)

  • Training videos spoofing Gen. George Patton are becoming more than an embarrassment for the Veterans Affairs Department. They've become the latest example of extravagant agency conference spending. The VA spent $52,000 on the videos, which were designed to tell attendees about the agenda. Congress is demanding answers. Secretary Eric Shinseki is just as upset. In a statement to reporters, he said the parody should never have been produced. He called it a completely unacceptable misuse of taxpayer funds. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Defense Department held 64 conferences that cost more per attendee than the infamous General Services Administration Western Regions conference. That's according to the office of Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He said his staff analyzed thousands of documents, and found a total of 153 expensive federal conferences over a five-year period. Issa has sent letters demanding information to several departments and agencies, including DoD, Agriculture, Interior, Health and Human Services and Education. Details of the GSA conference led to the resignation of Administrator Martha Johnson. (Federal News Radio)