News

Army will separate 2,000 officers as part of force reduction effort

The Army will involuntarily separate about 2,000 captains and majors in an effort to reduce the size of the force, an Army spokesman said. The separations will be used to meet goals set out by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in his fiscal 2015 budget proposal should it be made law.

The Postal Service isn't stockpiling ammunition

The Postal Service is the latest federal agency to come under conspiracy-minded allegations of stockpiling ammunition – leading an agency spokesman to issue a debunking statement. "The Postal Service is not hoarding ammunition," USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in a April 21 blog post.

Supreme Court to hear IRS summons case

In 2010, the IRS issued a summons to Michael Clarke, a Florida investor, while auditing an investing partnership where Clarke was the chief financial officer. Clarke claims that the summons was retaliation for the partnership's refusal to extend a statute of limitations – which it had already extended twice – to allow the IRS to continue investigating tax returns that dated back to 2005.

Federal contract spending fell 11 percent in fiscal 2013

Budget cuts, sequestration and the winding down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused an 11 percent decline in last year's federal contract spending compared to the previous year.

Customer satisfaction surveys give VA hospitals good marks

Veterans hospitals and outpatient facilities compared favorably to private sector counterparts in recent customer service surveys. The American Customer Satisfaction Index conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of veterans who used Veterans Health Administration facilities in 2013.

GAO: VA Denver facilities costs doubled since 2004

Construction costs for a major veteran medical facility in Denver have nearly doubled and the opening of the facility has been pushed back more than a year because of changes in the scope of the project, an April 22 Government Accountability Office report says. The Denver Veterans Affairs Department medical center was supposed to cost about $328 million when construction started in 2004, but as of November 2012 that number increased to $800 million, the report says.

GSA divvies up $67M for 19 renovation projects

The General Services Administration has identified 19 renovation projects with a price tag of $67.4 million the agency says will lead to long term savings. The renovations, which include the creation of open work spaces, will allow agencies to rent 507,000 fewer square feet of space, saving them $17 million per year, GSA says.

Rule would expand scope of personal conflict of interest regulation

Individual federal contractors will likely face increased conflict of interest scrutiny under a proposed regulation. Currently the Federal Acquisition Regulation limits the definition of personal conflict of interest to those performing jobs closely associated with inherently governmental acquisition work.

IRS customer service wait times doubled since 2009

In fiscal 2014, through March 15, the average time that callers waited to reach an IRS representative was 16.8 minutes. For fiscal 2009 in its entirety, callers waited 8.8 minutes on average.

USPS doesn't know how many historic buildings it has or how much it costs to preserve them

The Postal Service doesn't know how many historic properties it holds or the cost to preserve those properties, find auditors. The Postal Service was unable to compile a list of the historic properties it owns when the USPS inspector general asked for it in preparation of an April 16 report (pdf).

More than half of likely voters think government is a threat to liberty

More than half see the government as a threat to individual liberty and only about 20 percent of people think it will do the right thing most of the time, an April 18 Rasmussen poll says. The 56 percent of likely voters seeing the government as a threat lines up with the same Rasmussen poll taken last November, but is up from 46 percent at the end of 2012.

Federal prison population exceeds the space to house it, CRS says

The federal prison system population now exceeds the space available to house and maintain it, a Mar. 4 Congressional Research Report says. "The annual growth in the federal prison population has outstripped the BOP's prison capacity, resulting in overcrowding in the federal prison system," the report (pdf) says.

DoD system still showing contractors fired for misconduct as elegible for security clearance, IG says

When contractor employees accused of misconduct are fired or quit before DoD makes judgement, the system that records the adjudication still shows them as eligible for security clearance, a DoD inspector general report says.

Independent tax preparers made significant errors and IRS can't regulate them, GAO says

Independent tax return preparers made a lot of mistakes on individuals' returns in 2011 and the Internal Revenue Service has little authority to regulate those tax return preparers, an April 8 Government Accountability Office report says.

Ryan budget would devastate nondefense discretionary spending, CAP says

The federal spending blueprint proposed by House budget leader Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) would eviscerate spending on nondefense discretionary programs and put them on shaky ground for the future, an April 16 Center for American Progress report says.

Air Force wants contractors to rein in supply chain costs

The Air Force thinks it's paying more for its goods and services than it should and wants to put pressure on its contractors to reduce costs in their supply chain. Previously, when the Air Force negotiated contracts, much of it went to prime contractors, but now 60 to 70 percent of that is subcontracted, said the Air Force's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting Wendy Masiello.

Grants, missile defense hit hardest in DoD S&T budget request

Overall funding for the Defense Department's science and technology budget would see about a $500 million reduction in the president's fiscal 2015 budget request, with grants and missile defense bearing the brunt of the cut, says a DoD official.

About 40 percent of DoD contracts in fiscal 2013 were noncompetitive

About 40 percent of all contracts awarded by the Defense Department in fiscal 2013 were through noncompetitive contracts, says an April 16 Government Accountability Office report. With those contracts, the DoD tends to bundle them under a class justifcation rather than justifying why there was no competition for each contract, the report says.

IRS helping a million fewer taxpayers at assistance centers in 2014, TIGTA says

The Internal Revenue Service is projected to help almost a million fewer taxpayers this filing season at tax assistance centers than it did last year because of budget cuts, says a recently released Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report.

New OIRA meetings database eases user search

The White House office charged with reviewing draft federal regulations has made it easier to search and sort records of its meetings with lobbyists and trade associations.