The use of reverse auctions by agencies is on the rise, but the Government Accountability office is concerned that many agencies simply aren't aware of the fees they're paying to use auction tools, said Michelle Mackin, GAO's director of acquisition and sourcing management.
The Senate rule change that ended the ability to filibuster has paved the way for confirmation of five of President Obama's nominees this week. Patricia Millett was approved for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on a mostly party line vote of 56-38 and Rep. Melvin Watt (D-N.C.) was confirmed as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency by a 57-41 vote Tuesday.
The Veterans Affairs Department disability backlog the of about 400,000 benefits claims will continue to drop in 2014 and should be eliminated in 2015, a VA official told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday. But to meet that goal, the VA will need adequate funding in the fiscal 2014 for IT programs and to help pay about 20 hours of overtime per month for employees that process claims, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey said.
Current federal workers wouldn't see much change under the framework budget leaders proposed Tuesday for the next two fiscal years, but new hires would see more of their paychecks going to pension contributions. Federal employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2014 would pay 4.4 percent of their salary toward retirement benefits, a summary (.pdf) of the budget bill (H.J. Res. 59) says. Currently, feds pay 3.1 percent into pensions.
Old courthouses that could be used as federal offices stand in disrepair even as the General Services Administration pitches Congress for new courthouses, a recently released Nov. 7 Government Accountability office report shows. Renovations for old courthouses frequently aren't included in GSA proposals for the new courthouses that replace them, even though most need renovations to continue being used, GAO says.
President Barack Obama's pick head the Internal Revenue Service, pledged to restore trust in the agency after allegations of political bias, urge Congress to provide more funding for operations and improve declining employee morale. John Koskinen, a former Freddie Mac chairman, told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday he'd talk to front-line employees to figure out how to make the agency run better.
Four agencies paid millions of dollars in fees in fiscal 2012 to hold reverse auctions that saw just a single bid or included only one bidder. The Government Accountability Office reviewed the experiences of the departments of Homeland Security, the Interior, Veterans Affairs and the Army, which held a total of 19,688 reverse auctions in fiscal 2012.
The federally facilitated marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act enrolled 137,204 people in health insurances plans in October and November.
House and Senate budget leaders Tuesday night unveiled an budget agreement that would set federal discretionary spending at more than one trillion annually for current and next fiscal years and replace sequestration cuts. The deal would also cut the deficit by $23 billion while not raising taxes, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during a press conference.
Poverty in the United States decreased over the last 50 years due to government programs such as food stamps, welfare, tax credits, social security and unemployment payments, a Dec. 5 Columbia University paper says. Those programs helped reduce the poverty rate from 26 percent in 1967 to 16 percent in 2012, the paper (.pdf) says. Without those programs, poverty would have stayed flat, it says.
GSA's regional headquarters plans to move there, as do an Army Corps of Engineers district office and a Customs and Border Protection field office.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today over a thwarted effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollution that travels downwind from one state to another. Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog said much of the outcome will hinge on imprecise language in the Clear Air Act. "The crucial phrase that needs to be interpreted is the mandate that states may not 'significantly contribute' to their neighbors' inability to meet air quality standards," he writes.
Americans believe that the United States isn't the global superpower it used to be, a Dec. 3 Pew survey says. For the first time innearly 40 years of surveys, a majority says the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.
Leaders of the Senate and House Armed Service Committees said Monday they've found agreement in a bipartisan defense authorization for fiscal 2014, but prospects for the compromise measure aren't straightforward.
The Postal Service blamed time constraints for the poor performance of some postmasters in a business engagement program, but the USPS office of inspector general now disputes that conclusion.
Agencies will be required to use 20 percent renewable energy for its electricity by 2020, a Dec. 5 President Obama memo says. The memo builds on a 2009 executive order (.pdf) that set targets for reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020.
The Office of Personnel Management in November only process half the retirement claims it got through in October, but it also received significantly fewer claims, OPM statistics show.
The Office of Personnel Management tweaked the way it alerts employees that the government will be opening late due to severe weather in the Washington, D.C. metro region to make it clear that workers can come in earlier than the delayed start time. The old wording led to confusion among federal workers, OPM says (.pdf). Many employees weren't sure whether they were required to arrive at their office at exactly the delayed time or no later than the delayed time.
The quality of congressional investigations rose after Watergate, with more of them having a great deal of impact, a Dec. 4 Brookings Institution paper by New York University professor Paul Light says.
The bicameral congressional budget committee reaches its self-imposed deadline for producing a one year budget framework in five days--and in an unusual twist, lawmakers are hopeful a deal will be reached.