News

Customer satisfaction surveys give VA hospitals good marks

Veterans hospitals and outpatient facilities compared favorably to private sector counterparts in recent customer service surveys. The American Customer Satisfaction Index conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of veterans who used Veterans Health Administration facilities in 2013.

GAO: VA Denver facilities costs doubled since 2004

Construction costs for a major veteran medical facility in Denver have nearly doubled and the opening of the facility has been pushed back more than a year because of changes in the scope of the project, an April 22 Government Accountability Office report says. The Denver Veterans Affairs Department medical center was supposed to cost about $328 million when construction started in 2004, but as of November 2012 that number increased to $800 million, the report says.

GSA divvies up $67M for 19 renovation projects

The General Services Administration has identified 19 renovation projects with a price tag of $67.4 million the agency says will lead to long term savings. The renovations, which include the creation of open work spaces, will allow agencies to rent 507,000 fewer square feet of space, saving them $17 million per year, GSA says.

Rule would expand scope of personal conflict of interest regulation

Individual federal contractors will likely face increased conflict of interest scrutiny under a proposed regulation. Currently the Federal Acquisition Regulation limits the definition of personal conflict of interest to those performing jobs closely associated with inherently governmental acquisition work.

IRS customer service wait times doubled since 2009

In fiscal 2014, through March 15, the average time that callers waited to reach an IRS representative was 16.8 minutes. For fiscal 2009 in its entirety, callers waited 8.8 minutes on average.

USPS doesn't know how many historic buildings it has or how much it costs to preserve them

The Postal Service doesn't know how many historic properties it holds or the cost to preserve those properties, find auditors. The Postal Service was unable to compile a list of the historic properties it owns when the USPS inspector general asked for it in preparation of an April 16 report (pdf).

More than half of likely voters think government is a threat to liberty

More than half see the government as a threat to individual liberty and only about 20 percent of people think it will do the right thing most of the time, an April 18 Rasmussen poll says. The 56 percent of likely voters seeing the government as a threat lines up with the same Rasmussen poll taken last November, but is up from 46 percent at the end of 2012.

Federal prison population exceeds the space to house it, CRS says

The federal prison system population now exceeds the space available to house and maintain it, a Mar. 4 Congressional Research Report says. "The annual growth in the federal prison population has outstripped the BOP's prison capacity, resulting in overcrowding in the federal prison system," the report (pdf) says.

DoD system still showing contractors fired for misconduct as elegible for security clearance, IG says

When contractor employees accused of misconduct are fired or quit before DoD makes judgement, the system that records the adjudication still shows them as eligible for security clearance, a DoD inspector general report says.

Independent tax preparers made significant errors and IRS can't regulate them, GAO says

Independent tax return preparers made a lot of mistakes on individuals' returns in 2011 and the Internal Revenue Service has little authority to regulate those tax return preparers, an April 8 Government Accountability Office report says.

Ryan budget would devastate nondefense discretionary spending, CAP says

The federal spending blueprint proposed by House budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) would eviscerate spending on nondefense discretionary programs and put them on shaky ground for the future, an April 16 Center for American Progress report says.

Air Force wants contractors to rein in supply chain costs

The Air Force thinks it's paying more for its goods and services than it should and wants to put pressure on its contractors to reduce costs in their supply chain. Previously, when the Air Force negotiated contracts, much of it went to prime contractors, but now 60 to 70 percent of that is subcontracted, said the Air Force's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting Wendy Masiello.

Grants, missile defense hit hardest in DoD S&T budget request

Overall funding for the Defense Department's science and technology budget would see about a $500 million reduction in the president's fiscal 2015 budget request, with grants and missile defense bearing the brunt of the cut, says a DoD official.

About 40 percent of DoD contracts in fiscal 2013 were noncompetitive

About 40 percent of all contracts awarded by the Defense Department in fiscal 2013 were through noncompetitive contracts, says an April 16 Government Accountability Office report. With those contracts, the DoD tends to bundle them under a class justifcation rather than justifying why there was no competition for each contract, the report says.

IRS helping a million fewer taxpayers at assistance centers in 2014, TIGTA says

The Internal Revenue Service is projected to help almost a million fewer taxpayers this filing season at tax assistance centers than it did last year because of budget cuts, says a recently released Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report.

New OIRA meetings database eases user search

The White House office charged with reviewing draft federal regulations has made it easier to search and sort records of its meetings with lobbyists and trade associations.

Brennan Center pushes for more executive action when Congress fails to act

President Obama could go farther in wielding executive power to push through policies that don't make it through Congress, says an April 15 Brennan Center for Justice report. "Bold executive action can help unstick some of the very gridlock that plagues government," says Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center and former Bill Clinton speechwriter.

OMB pushing forward with modernized security clearance plan, Cobert says

The Office of Management and Budget are pushing forward with a modernized security clearance process plan that will include continuous evaluation of federal employees and contracts after they've gained security clearance, said OMB Deputy Director for Management Beth Cobert.

Temporary uses of public land 'remarkably durable'

Private uses of public land that are technically temporary often endure, even when policymakers have other priorities for the land, argues an article published in the Georgetown Law Journal. "Once established, these claims – of which there are hundreds of thousands – seem, in many instances, to take on a life of their own," writes Bruce Huber, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, in the article.

DoD memo shows acquisition officers need more training

Acquisition experts see a March 13 Defense Department memo directing its contracting officers to seek prices lower than the general schedule as redundant and as a sign that contracting officers aren't getting the training they need. The Federal Acquisition Regulation already says that contracting officers shall seek a price reduction when the order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000.