The saga of the scandal-ridden The Internal Revenue Service just took another nasty turn. A new report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform accuses the agency of awarding $500 million in questionable contracts to a software company under false pretenses and that an agency employee responsible for overseeing the procurement process had had “improper contact” with the company.
Strong Castle/Signet Computers apparently won hundreds of millions of dollars of IRS business just months after its chief executive Braulio Castillo founded the company in 2012. It turns out, Castillo and Gregory Roseman, then-deputy director of IRS Enterprise Networks and Tier Systems Support, were good friends and college roommates who had exchanged hundreds of texts requesting advice about how Castillo might launch another business that could also win IRS contracts.
In order to increase chances at securing contracts, Castillo falsely claimed the status of a contractor with a military-service disability…the problem is, he never served in the military. When lawmakers raised questions about this at a congressional hearing Wednesday, Castillo pled the fifth, making him the second IRS employee/former IRS employee to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights. IRS officials have since announced the contracts with Strong Castle would be canceled. - Read more at Gov Exec
CLOCK IS TICKING ON STUDENT LOANS Lawmakers are closing in on a deal to prevent interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans from automatically doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the two parties are still too far apart on an agreement, and they could very likely miss the deadline…which is in two working days.
The emerging deal, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) would have undergraduates pay a loan interest rate equal to 1.85 percent above the 10-year Treasury rate. The plan is similar to President Obama’s proposal. - Read more at The Hill
RISING INTEREST RATES COULD HINDER RECOVERY Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s announcement last week has triggered a sharp increase in long-term interest rates that is threatening to hurt sales of big ticket items like cars and houses, which have largely driven the U.S. economic recovery. On Wednesday, rates on 30-year fixed mortgages were 4.56 percent, up from 3.74 percent a month ago, according to HSH Associates. Rates on investment-grade-rated corporate bonds went to 3.47 percent from 2.73 percent, according to Barclays and yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes were 2.54 percent, up from 1.94 percent. Read more at The Wall Street Journal
SEQUESTER MAKES TROOPS BITE THE DUST The Pentagon will begin furloughing roughly 650,000 civilian employees next week. Employees across the country will be furloughed for up to 11 days through September. Though the budget cuts will mainly affect civilian workers. The announcement comes after Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno warned that further sequester cuts could lead to an 80,000-troop force reduction. - Read more at GovExec
MONICA LEWINSKY AUCTION (Yes, you read that correctly.) This week on the Nate D. Sanders online auction, “fans” of former President Bill Clinton’s infamous intern Monica Lewinsky, will have the opportunity to bid on 32 Lewinksy’s personal items- all of which were examined as potential evidence in one of the most controversial presidential scandals of the 20th century. Items include black lace nighties and handwritten notes. No, no blue dress. The bidding is currently up to $8,600 and the auction closes tonight. - See the items here