News

CFC launches program to give feds more options to donate

As the Office of Personnel Management kicks of the 2014 federal charity season, the agency launched a new initiative to let federal workers donate to charities outside their locality. OPM launched its universal giving program as part of the Combined Federal Campaign. With it, feds are no longer limited to donating to the charities listed on the local CFC charity list, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a Sept. 10 blog post.

OPM won't renew USIS background check contract

The Office of Personnel Management plans to not review its contract with the company that allegedly defrauded OPM by not properly completing security clearance background checks and trying to cover up the situation. The move comes after the USIS--one of the contractors responsible for federal background checks--suffered a cyberattack in August that compromised the files of 25,000 Homeland Security Department workers and is under investigation by the FBI, the AP reported on Sept. 10.

House Republican leaders postpone vote on stopgap spending measure

The House won't vote Thursday on a stopgap spending measure to fund the government for fiscal 2015 through Dec. 11. The Associated Press reported Sept. 10 that House Republican leaders are postponing the vote so they can weigh President Barack Obama's request for the authority to train and equip Syrian rebels battling Islamic State militants.

IGs outline agency efforts to stymie access to documents

Watchdogs from several agencies told a House panel their independence is threated by agencies refusing to turn over documents and finding ways to circumvent handing them over. Inspectors General from the Justice Department, Peace Corps and Environmental Protection Agency spoke out against losing their independence to agencies who use statutory or legal authority to keep documents out of the IGs' hands.

CBO: SES demotion pay bill would affect few federal workers

A House bill that would stop the government from continuing to pay demoted senior executives their executive salaries would likely only affect one federal worker per year, a Sept. 8 Congressional Budget Office report says. The bill (H.R. 5169) would lead to lower discretionary spending for salaries and expenses for those removed from the SES for misconduct or underperformance, CBO says in the report, but the savings would be small because so few employees would be affected.

VA IG: About 75% of investigated facilities engaged in data manipulation

About 75 percent of Veterans Affairs Department medical facilities being investigated by the VA inspector general manipulated data related to patient wait times, VA Acting IG Richard Griffin told a Senate panel Tuesday. Griffin said about a quarter of the facilities under investigation have been cleared, but that the rest of the facilities manipulated data in some way.

OPM: Agencies can honor fallen feds with flag

The Office of Personnel management issued a final rule Tuesday that will allow agencies to give flags to the next of kin of federal workers who die from on-the-job injuries due to terrorism, natural disasters or other circumstances determined by the president.

House Appropriations proposes stopgap funding measure

The House Appropriations Committee proposed a stopgap spending measure Tuesday that would fund the government until Dec. 11. The continuing resolution would fund the government in the first few months of fiscal 2015 at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion. Most programs wouldn't see any change under the CR, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) says in a Sept. 9 statement, which would kick in if Congress doesn't pass its appropriations bills by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

McDonald worries about recruiting top talent to VA

The head of the Veterans Affairs Department is worried the recent charges of improper scheduling and patient care will make it more difficult to employ and retain top talent. "I am worried about our ability to recruit and retain talented people," VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a Sept. 8 press conference. "We need tens of thousands of new doctors, new nurses, new clinicians."

Senate Committee speaks out against postponing USPS facility closures

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee leaders say Postal Service facility closures should begin and cautioned against implementing a moratorium, holding up the process, a Sept. 8 committee letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee says. The Postal Service plans move ahead with its consolidation of processing facilities--after the second phase of the project was postponed earlier this year--despite postal unions and some lawmakers coming out against the plan.

Postal Service manager pleads guilty to contractor bribery

A former Postal Service station manager pleaded guilty to receiving bribes for USPS contracts, a Sept. 5 Justice Department statement says. Richard Lewis Wright was connected with a scheme to obtain Postal Service contracts in exchange for bribe payments, the statement says.

Report: DoD needs more accurate, complete data on real property holdings

While the Defense Department has improved its real estate inventory data, it still lacks complete and accurate information in how some of those assets are being used, preventing officials from identifying opportunities to consolidate unused of underused facilities, congressional investigators said.

IG: USPS managers need to better monitor refunds in Eastern area

Postal Service managers in the eastern region aren't monitoring refunds at post offices even though they increased by millions over the last few years, an Aug. 27 USPS inspector general report says. For 2011 through 2013, post office refunds in the east increased by $2 million--from $6.8 million to $8.8 million--while associated revenue decreased by about $4 million--from about $600 million to about 596 million, the report (pdf) says.

Archuleta: Innovation Lab booked for months

The Office of Personnel Management's Innovation Lab has been so booked that even the agency's director needs to book months ahead of time. "The word is spreading not only as a place where good conversations happen, but also good work in solving difficult issues happen" OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a Sept. 3 speech to the Association for Talent Development. "It is so booked that for me to use that in that space and those resources in the lab, I have to schedule it months in advance."

OPM continues to reduce retirement backlog despite uptick in claims

The Office of Personnel Management continued to reduce its retirement claims backlog in August, processing about 1,000 more claims than it projected it would, Sept. 5 OPM statistics show. OPM project it would receive about 7,400 claims and process about 8,000. That would have left the agency with nearly 14,000 claims still unprocessed in its backlog.

Study says most Americans have confidence in federal workforce

Nearly 75 percent of Americans surveyed said they had confidence in the federal workforce, a Sept. 8 George Washington University survey says. About 22 percent of respondents said they had a lot of confidence in federal civilian workers and about 51 percent said they had some confident.

IG: USPS not following proper process for post office relocation

The Postal Service's process for relocating facilities isn't always transparent and can't readily identify the number of relocations that have taken place, a Sept. 2 USPS inspector general report says. USPS manages 31,702 post offices that provide retail services such as counter assistance, postage stamps, money orders and Post Office boxes.

GSA: OASIS cleared of bid protests

Federal agencies can begin using the General Services Administration's OASIS contracting because the Court of Federal Claims and Government Accountability Office denied all bid protests, a Sept. 3 GSA statement says. The GSA issued an official Notice to Proceed OASIS so both OASIS and OASIS Small Business--GSA's small business set-aside contract--are ready for business, GSA says.

SIGAR calls for agencies to cooperate better with IG investigations

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction called on agencies to be more cooperative and transparent when handing over records during investigations, piggybacking on a recent letter from 47 IGs to House and Senate government oversight committees.

CBO: Federal debt expected to triple in next decade

Interest payments on the federal debt are expected to triple over the next ten years, making them the highest percent of the gross domestic product since 1996, a Sept. 3 Congressional Budget Office report says. "Interest payments on that debt represent a large and rapidly growing expense of the federal government," the report says.