Thursday federal headlines - June 20, 2013

Thursday - 6/20/2013, 9:28am 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.

  • A new documentary calls into question one of the National Transportation Safety Board's most important findings: what happened to TWA Flight 800? Some former investigators are inspired by the film's director to petition the agency to reopen the 1996 case. New FAA radar evidence has suggested an external explosion similar to a missile strike might have brought down the jet shortly after it took off from New York. After a long four-year investigation, NTSB concluded faulty wiring caused the plane to crash. The agency said it reviews all petitions and makes determinations within 60 days. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Government Accountability Office announced that few small contractors would be hurt if the government reduced the money it reimbursed them for executives' salaries because few small companies can afford to pay their top people more than $400,000 a year - the cap proposed by the White House. In releasing the report, GAO has taken aim at a key argument made by opponents of the proposed limit. The Professional Services Council criticized the cap and said GAO looked at a "relatively miniscule sample" of contractors. (Federal News Radio)

  • The U.S. Postal Service Inspector General said the agency should sever ties with its biggest contractor. The IG recommends suspending or debarring Accenture, which performs IT related work and cited its risk of fraud. USPS says the company hasn't followed recommendations to fix its contract cost-estimating system. Two years ago, Accenture settled kickback allegations with the Justice Department by way of a $64 million payment. The Postal IG says Accenture has demonstrated an absence of business ethics. But Susan Brownell, the vice president for supply management at USPS, told the Federal Times that USPS has no problems with Accenture's integrity. (Federal Times)

  • The union representing Internal Revenue Service employees said the agency has to award bonuses to top performers. The National Treasury Employees Union says it would be illegal for the IRS to cancel the bonuses and it would violate their collective bargaining agreement. The contract authorizes merit-based awards of up to $3,500 a year. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has criticized the IRS for its plan to award $70 million in employee bonuses. Grassley said the agency is ignoring a guidance by the White House to cancel bonuses due to budget constraints. The IRS is in the process of negotiating with the union over the matter. (Federal News Radio)

  • Don't assume that the national security worker always has a clean background check. The Office of Personnel Management might not have thoroughly checked their background before granting the employee a security clearance. OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland will make that charge Thursday when he goes before members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Bloomberg News saw a preview of McFarland's prepared testimony and he said 18 OPM employees and contractors have been convicted of falsifying background checks since 2006 with another 36 cases are pending. The hearing begins at 2:30 p.m. (Bloomberg)

  • Michael Froman has won few small contractors would be hurt if the government reduced the money it reimbursed them for executives' salaries because few small companies can afford to pay their top people more than $400,000 a year - the cap proposed by the White House. In releasing the report, GAO took aim at a key argument made by opponents of the proposed limit. The Professional Services Council criticized the cap and said GAO looked at a "relatively miniscule sample" of contractors. (Federal News Radio)

  • The FBI is looking to step up its use of surveillance drones. However, the agency is still developing policies for the unmanned aircraft. FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate panel that the chief issues are privacy and safely operating drones in densely populated areas. Drones have been used to look at stationary subjects to date and they were used at night during a hostage standoff earlier this year in Alabama, Mueller said. Each deployment requires permission from the FAA. (Federal News Radio)