More than a month after Aaron Alexis shot and killed a dozen people after entering a Washington Navy Yard building, the government's head personnel chief told a Senate panel that the security clearance process is not fundamentally flawed, but needs improvements.
More than 8,000 federal employees and contractors approved for security clearances between 2012 owed back taxes totaling $85 million, a recently released Sept. 10 Government Accountability Office report says. The GAO says 8,400 federal workers and contractors with clearance owed back taxes and about half of them had not worked out a repayment plan with the Internal Revenue Service, the report says. Of those that owed back taxes, 4,700 were directly employed by the federal government and the rest were contractors.
The Veterans Affairs Department official who resigned last year after it came out that the department spent vast sums of money on two conferences, refused to speak at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Oct. 30.
The Veterans Affairs Department doesn't support a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee bill that would require the VA to post information about the average processing times for disability claims, said VA Deputy Undersecretary for Health Robert Jesse. And though the bill was introduced as a way to monitor and keep transparent the backlog of claims, the VA thinks collecting and posting all of that information would be burdensome and actually slow down processing.
While science research programs received less funding 10 years ago than they do today, they benefitted from the fact that the Energy Department had a better feel for how much money was coming. Today, however, funding levels are in flux, making long term planning difficult, said Pat Dehmer, deputy director of science programs at the DOE's office of science.
Administration officials laid out a plan to bolster the government's role in recruiting foreign investing by coordinating the effort on the federal level, in a Wednesday evening call to reporters. States and cities have been responsible for luring business from abroad, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling told reporters.
Administration officials laid out a plan to bolster the government's role in recruiting foreign investing by coordinating the effort on the federal level, in a Wednesday evening call to reporters.
The House passed two bills this week that would affect veterans' benefits including one that would seek to improve Veterans Affairs' handling of the backlog of disability claims. The first bill (H.R. 2189) passed the House 404-1 Oct. 28 and would establish within the VA a commission or task force to evaluate the backlog of veterans' disability claims, including the current process used to evaluate claims and appeals, the applicable laws and regulations and the appeals process, the bill says.
Acquisition personnel at the Defense Department from management on down don't have the knowledge or incentives to do their jobs well, said Dov Zakheim, the department's former comptroller, on Oct. 29.
The Postal Service could save millions if it renegotiated leases set to expire that are above market rate, an Oct. 23 USPS inspector general report says. The Northeast Area spends more than $184 million annually to lease more than 3,300 facilities, the report (.pdf) says. Auditors identified 1,762 of 3,389 leases in which the service is possibly paying above market rate rent. USPS could save $6.6 million if it renegotiated facility rates or closed facilities for 250 of those leases that are set to expire in the next two years and are above market rates.
Though the military promotes its best officers to the rank of general and admiral, those officers might not be prepared for a job that focuses on a business management position, an Oct. 28 Center for a New American Security report says. "Most officers selected for their first star are operational standouts, heavily steeped in tactics and fighting," the report says. But those officers often lack exposure to the different demands surrounding the corporate management of the military.
A House committee Tuesday passed by voice vote a bill that would reform the contractor suspension and debarment process across agencies. The bill (H.R. 3345), which was introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) would consolidate more than 40 agency suspension and debarment offices in one central board.
A government employee who stepped into a contractor's role is among the targets of a report criticizing contracting practices at the Bureau of Land Management. The audit stemmed from the OIG's prior discovery that BLM had made payments for costs that exceeded the amount agreed to in a contract and also for costs that the contractor incurred outside the period of performance.
The Internal Revenue Service is issuing potentially fraudulent tax refunds because the processes it uses to verify taxpayers' income and withholding status are flawed, finds the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the White House has informed her that it will stop surveillance of leaders of U.S. allies. In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also said she is "totally opposed" to the National Security Agency collecting intelligence on those leaders.
Apathy in some cases went beyond a lack of interest to include employees who were unwilling to participate in emergency drills. Agencies also reported struggling to find volunteers to help lead evacuations. Some employees preferred to keep working during drills, and some failed to report to the assembly area, instead using the drill as a chance to leave for a coffee break.
Freedom of Information Act processing at many agencies has been delayed because the majority of FOIA professionals were furloughed as non-excepted employees during the government's 16-day shutdown. Unfortunately, the FOIA statute does not address government shutdowns, writes Kristen Mitchell, a facilitator at the National Archives and Records Administration's office of government information services, in an Oct. 24 blog post.
Forty-six percent of uninsured, single young adults eligible for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace--or 1.3 million people--could obtain "bronze" plan coverage at a cost of $50 or less per month, finds a Health and Human Services Department report published Oct. 28.
Agencies should not develop their own green building certification systems, a General Services Administration review has concluded. Instead, GSA recommends that they use either the Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, better known as LEED, or the Green Building Initiative's Green Globes system.
Historical Defense Department spending trends mean the DoD could face deeper budget cuts than those mandated by sequestration, Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment said in an Oct. 24 webcast. Harrison's analysis takes into account the trends that followed during drawdowns after the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm.