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.
Some Defense Department classification procedures contributed to persistent misclassification of documents, a recently released Sept. 30 DoD inspector general report (.pdf) says. The IG found that 70 percent of the 220 documents reviewed had classification discrepancies and 23 of the documents were misclassified or over-classified, the report says.
LPTA contracts gaining favor among agencies, but give vendors less incentive to innovate, study says
Lowest price technically acceptable procurements have been gaining favor among agencies, but that gives vendors less incentive to be innovative if the approach costs more, a an Oct. 24 Market Connections and Centurion Research study says. Under LPTA, agencies focus more on price than on past performance as long as the vendor meets minimal job requirements.
Fiscal 2014 budget negotiations start this week and there are no signs of a major bargain to end the budget stalemate. "If we focus on some big, grand bargain then we're going to focus on our differences, and both sides are going to require that the other side compromises some core principle and then we'll get nothing done," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Budget Committee, said, the AP reports.
The majority of Americans think the government shutdown damaged the morale of federal workers, an Oct. 25 Washington Post-ABC poll says. About 82 percent said the shutdown brought down federal employee morale and when asked how much damage the shutdown did, 49 percent said it did serious damage, the poll says. About 33 percent said the shutdown did damage, but not serious damage.
Top military officials told a House panel Wednesday that continued sequestration would make it impossible to plan for new acquisitions, and that maintenance will have to be differed on the current military fleet. If the mandatory budget cuts continue, the Air Force would have to delay purchasing four to five F-35 joint strike fighters from its requested amount of 19, Principal Deputy Assistant Air Force Secretary William LaPlante told the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on tactical air and land forces in an Oct. 23 hearing.
Town halls and public meetings intended to provide the public with access to government provide minimal interaction, no discussion outside the scope of what's on an agenda and result in very few answers for citizens, said Lisa Blomgren Amsler, a public service professor at Indiana University.