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Hixson: Tight budgets cause contracting officers to be risk-averse

Federal procurement officers tend to favor lowest price over technically acceptable contract vehicles because of the scrutiny placed on spending in tough budget times and that makes it difficult for those contracting officers to take risks, Federal Acquisition Service Regional Commissioner Tiffany Hixson said in an interview. "Right now there is a culture of being risk averse almost to point of taking no risk for fear of being criticized," Hixson said. "That's really driving some of the LPTA preference."

McConnell fires first shot toward possible government shutdown

Talks of another possible government shutdown in October are starting as Congress has stalled on passing appropriations bills and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has fired the first shot. But this time, defunding the Affordable Care Act isn't the impediment like it was last year. It's President Obama's use of executive power.

Issa launches investigation in USPTO telework abuse

The House Oversight Committee chairman wants answers from the Commerce Department about why reports show that patent examiners and paralegals lied about their hours while teleworking. At the end of July, the Commerce Department inspector general found that many paralegal specialists at the PTO "were frequently paid to do nothing". The practice persisted over several years even as a backlog of appeals cases grew during that time.

MSPB: Some federal workers think vets get special hiring treatment

The federal government's complex hiring rules favoring veterans have caused federal workers to think vets get unfair treatment, a recently released Merit Systems Protection Board report says. "Some of the perceptions of inappropriate favoritism may have been a result of the complex hiring process and a proliferation of hiring authorities, which can invite misunderstandings and provide opportunities for suspicion," the report says.

GAO: CMS needs to improve guidance to contractors performing post payment reviews

Medicare could catch more duplicative payments if it improved post payment reviews done by independent contractors, a recently released July 18 Government Accountability Office report says. The GAO says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doesn't have the information it needs to know whether contractors are conducting inappropriate duplicative claims reviews because CMS doesn't adequately monitor data on the contractors.

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