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USDA departments need better contract management, GAO finds

Three Agriculture Department agencies failed to use preferred contracts in the procurement of professional services for about two-thirds of the funds assigned for such purchases from fiscal 2009 to 2013, the Government Accountability Office found. That amounts to about $783 million of the nearly $1.8 billion USDA set aside in that time frame for professional services contracts, according to GAO's report (pdf). USDA's Departmental Management, Food and Nutrition Service, and Forest Service account for about 70 percent of the department's total obligations for professional service contracts, but only about 37 percent of the funds were awarded via performance-based, firm-fixed-price contracts, the kinds that the

Government open data efforts continue to struggle, groups say

An audit of the federal government's open data efforts has produced conflicting results. Where there should be URLs that link to downloadable datasets, agencies sometimes have a short message or an identifier for a non-web resource, such as people's computers and internal servers, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicate to government transparency, said in an Oct. 29 blog post.

OPM: Only 59 percent of feds are satisfied with their job

Only 59 percent of federal employees surveyed by the Office of Personnel Management said they were satisfied with their jobs, says OPM's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The global satisfaction index captured four aspects of employee contentment: their job, their pay, their organization and if they would recommend their organization as a good place to work.

OPM: NASA employees most engaged with work

NASA employees are the most engaged with their work among larger agencies and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency topped the category among small agencies, says the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. OPM measured employee engagement as "the employees' sense of purpose that is evident in their display of dedication, persistence and effort in their work or overall attachment to their organization and its mission."

GAO: Some agencies not meeting customer service standards

None of the five agencies that the Government Accountability Office surveyed met all key elements of the government's customer service standards, an Oct. 24 report says.

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FierceHomelandSecurity

Canada is considering beefing up surveillance laws to collect more information about its citizens, who travel abroad, and share it with international partners as a way to spot and prevent home-grown terrorism. But experts say there's no evidence that such methods can actually work.

FierceGovernmentIT

Low-intensity, Internet-enabled conflicts between nation states will become the rule, not the exception according to a report (pdf) issued Oct. 29 during  Georgia Tech's Cybersecurity Summit.