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.
Federal contractor executives got a raise Wednesday when the Office of Federal Procurement Policy announced increased the pay cap by $190,000. Pryor to the bump, allowable costs for contractor executives were set at $763,029. That number hadn't changed since 2011. But OFPP says it's not happy about the raise and it was forced into it.
Republican lawmakers charged that benchmark hiring goals for veterans and the disabled are quotas that federal contractors can be legally held to and that is burdening contractors, at a Dec. 4 House Education and Workforce subcommittee on workforce protections hearing.
Veterans Affairs Department disability claims processing problems at the regional level resulted in improper payments that the VA will likely never recover, Deputy Assistant Inspector General Sondra McCauley told a House panel Wednesday. Some of the problems come from Veterans Affairs regional offices not complying with Veterans Benefits Administration policies.
Veterans Affairs medical centers didn't properly review incidents where patients were injured due to a doctor's intervention, a Dec. 3 Government Accountability Office report says. When a medical provider injures a patient, a confidential protected review is done to evaluate the role of individual providers in the event, the report says.
The Internal Revenue Service hasn't proven that it can prevent improper payment of tax credits for those who can't afford healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, a recently released Sept. 27 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report says.
The way the government hands out building construction contracts stifles competition and wastes money, industry experts told a House panel Tuesday. The issue comes with design-build contracts in which the architecture work and construction are bundled into one contract. Those contracts can be awarded as a one-step or two-step process.
"There is broad agreement that the sequestration cuts are poorly designed. But policymakers would be well-advised not to replace one set of harmful cuts with another set of harmful cuts," the Washington, D.C.-based think tank says in a November report.
Government surveys should experiment with subjective questions about well-being, a new report from the National Research Council says.
Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia tied for countries perceived as most corrupt, while New Zealand and Denmark came in at the opposite end of the perception spectrum, according to Transparency International's newest annual corruption index. The index scores 177 countries based on a combination of surveys and assessments of corruption. It doesn't score actual corruption, something that likely resists objective measurement, just perception of corruption toward each country.
Budget constraints caused the Postal Service to leave some of its facilities in disrepair, a Nov. 27 USPS inspector general report says. Between fiscal 2009 and 2012 financial challenges led to a $382 million decrease in the Postal Service building repair budget. By not completing necessary repairs, the Postal Service exposes itself to increased costs in future years, the report says.