Contractors working for the Internal Revenue Service owed $5.4 million in delinquent federal taxes, a recently released Aug. 30 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report says. As of June 14, 2012, about 5 percent of IRS contractor employees, or 691 out of 13,591, owed back taxes and 352 of those that owed taxes did not have a payment plan to resolve their tax debt, the report (.pdf) says.
Federal workers in same sex marriages can now benefit from family and medical leave, an Oct. 21 Office of Personnel Management memo says. The change comes as a result of the Supreme Court overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act on June 26. OPM has been rolling out the changes to benefits including insurance and federal survivor benefits.
In September, the federal workforce lost 6,000 jobs leaving the government with 2,723,000 employees, new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. In August, the federal workforce numbers came in at 2,729,000 and back in July, they totaled 2,736,000, the statistics (.pdf) show.
The 16 day government shutdown impacted more than just furloughed workers and the country's economy; it also backlogged government operations including major reports from agencies like the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Census Bureau sent out a revised calendar of report Oct. 21 showing several delayed reports. The reports, which map 12 leading economic indicators, were delayed between one week and 18 days.
Due to the recent government shutdown, the 2014 tax filing season will begin one or two weeks later than scheduled, the Internal Revenue Service announced Oct. 22. The April 15 deadline to file tax returns will not change, because the tax code sets the deadline. Even so, anyone can request a six month extension.
The report criticizes poor oversight by DOE of conference and meal costs. Officials didn't require detailed cost esimates for conferences, and meals and refreshments "were justified as being an inseparable part of planned events," auditors say.
The Internal Revenue Service made no significant improvements to curbing improper payments of refundable tax credit for low income families and hasn't established improper payment reduction targets, a recently released Aug. 28 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report says.
Only 19 percent of American adults say they trust the government to do what is right most of the time or always, nearly setting a new record low, according to a Pew Research Center poll.
Federal employees who were furloughed due to the government shutdown are entitled to receive back pay under the continuing resolution that funded the government through mid-January. Thousands of furloughed federal employees also claimed unemployment benefits during the shutdown.
The Senate confirmed Beth Cobert Oct. 16 as the new deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.
Though the Postal Service reduced hours in fiscal 2012, USPS still used over 14 million work hours more than necessary to process mail volume, A Sept. 26 USPS inspector general report says. By reducing those hours, USPS could cut costs of about $628 million, a Sept. 26 USPS inspector general report says.
As developers scramble to fix problems with healthcare.gov, the federal website for healthcare insurance exchanges, President Obama vowed to improve the website. He also said the product was good, even if the delivery system was flawed.
Contractors and subcontractors can no longer receive reimbursement from the government for the costs of defending themselves against whistle-blower lawsuits deemed legitimate. The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act called for the change.
"In September, we expected 3% annualized growth in the fourth quarter because we thought politicians would have learned from 2011 and taken steps to avoid things like a government shutdown and the possibility of a sovereign default," ratings agency Standard & Poor's said in a statement Oct. 16, the day the shutdown ended.
Though many lawmakers are calling for spending cuts to reduce the deficit, cutting government spending can hurt the country, George Washington University Law Professor Neil H. Buchanan argues in a 2010 paper. "In the short run, cutting deficit spending can be disastrous to the economy, especially if the economy is already in decline," Buchanan says, especially if those cuts come to those programs that provide long-term benefits to the economy, such as spending on education and infrastructure.
For the Affordable Care Act to work, states must properly promote the program and work with the federal government to ensure compliance of the law, an Oct. 15 Brookings paper says. Partisan politics in each state will play a part in whether the ACA is successful, the paper says, and since states with Democratic governors are more likely to publicize the law, it is likely to be more successful in those states.
The Agriculture Department's subjective eligibility requirements for farm program payments hindered the agency's ability to review whether farmers were compliant with the requirements, a recently released Sept. 26 Government Accountability Office reports says.
With the government up and running again, agencies begin to assess the effects the shutdown had on its workforce and finances. The shutdown cost the Defense Department $600 million in lost productivity due to furloughed civilian workers, DoD Comptroller Robert Hale said in an Oct. 17 press conference. Other costs can't be calculated yet, Hale said.
With his usual flair for the dramatic, Rep. Darrell Issa lambasted the head of the National Parks Service for turning military vets away from national parks during the shutdown calling it a sign that the director doesn't care about keeping the parks open and serving the public.
As federal workers report back to their offices this morning, it's uncertain how long it will take to get operations back to normal. The government hasn't had to reopen in 17 years and with technological advances along with each agency facing specific issues there isn't a governmentwide guideline to get everyone up and running quickly.