News

Obama boosts judicial confirmation rate with record lame duck confirmations

The Senate has confirmed 89 of President Obama's judicial appointees in 2014 – a record number of confirmations in the post-election lame duck session, according to analysis from the Brookings Institution. His judicial confirmation rate now exceeds that of previous two-term presidents Bush and Clinton.

IG: DOI won't meet 5-year goal of relocating Native American tribes

A plan to help Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes affected by a 1974 law that forced them to relocate won't be carried out in the original five-year time frame that was planned, says an Interior Department inspector general report.

PRC denies USPS request to move round-trip mailers to competitive products list

The Postal Regulatory Commission denied a Postal Service request to change the category of round-trip mailer products from "market dominant" to "competitive," a Dec. 23 PRC ruling says.

Most military members will see 1% pay raise

Most military members will be receiving a one percent pay bump in the new year, a Dec. 22 Defense Department statement says. The DoD announced its 2015 military pay and compensation rates Monday. Congress froze pay raises for general and flag officers so they won't be seeing a pay raise in 2015.

GSA seeks opinions on how to better manage the Reagan International Trade Center

The General Services Administration is looking for input on how it can better run the Ronald Reagan Building International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The GSA issued a request for information seeking alternative ways to manage the building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Interim rule would overhaul how federal grants are handled

The federal grants process is changing. The Council on Financial Assistance Reform issued an interim rule that would implement guidance that effects how the federal government hands out $600 billion in grants every year.

GSA touts benefits of internal crowdsourcing efforts

Federal agencies are often encouraged to consult external stakeholders to assess the direction and impact of their policies, but there are many advantages to crowdsourcing within a given agency as well, says the General Services Administration.

GSA plans to overhaul Multiple Award Schedules program

The General Services Administration is planning to make changes to the Multiple Award Schedules program after talks with stakeholders, a Dec. 15 GSA blog post says.

IRS commish: Taxpayers won't get their refunds on time due to budget cuts

Internal Revenue Service budget cuts for fiscal 2015 will hamper enforcement, reduce taxpayer services and delay tax refunds, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a press conference Friday. At the press conference, Koskinen echoed a call he's made several times since taking over the IRS almost a year ago.

IG: USPS tracking servers aren't safeguarded

The Postal Service needs to improve its system for tracking and reporting mail with trackable barcodes because its servers aren't safeguarded, a Dec. 16 USPS inspector general report says. USPS's Product Tracking and Reporting system records the delivery status information for all mail with trackable services and barcodes.

IG: Nearly 30% of homeless vets didn't get through to call center

More than 20,000 homeless veterans who dialed the Veterans Affairs Department call center for help found themselves talking to answering machines even though the calls were replaced during business hours, says a recently released Dec. 3 VA inspector general report.

GSA seeks development proposals for new FBI building

The General Services Administration is seeking proposals from developers for the first phase of the new FBI building, a Dec. 22 GSA statement says. GSA is looking for developers who can develop a new FBI facility of up to 2.1 million square feet in exchange for the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the statement says.

Cobert: Cross-agency goals already bearing fruit

Agencies are meeting governmentwide performance goals that President Obama set nearly a year ago, said the Office of Management and Budget in a Dec. 18 OMB blog post. In his fiscal 2015 budget request earlier this year, Obama established 15 new Cross-Agency Priority goals meant to improve agency performance governmentwide. 

Agencies don't know if programs to improve lives of Afghan women actually worked, says audit

Three federal agencies responsible for directing funds to help women in Afghanistan didn't track their spending or results, so no one knows if the programs worked, says a Dec. 18 Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report. The agencies involved reported spending at least $64.8 million on 652 projects, programs and initiatives to support Afghan women in fiscal years 2011 through 2013.

DoD doesn't know if testing ranges are susceptible to spying, says GAO

The Defense Department doesn't know if its testing ranges are vulnerable to foreign spying, a Dec. 16 Government Accountability Office report says. "DOD has not conducted a risk assessment that includes assessing the degree to which foreign encroachment could pose a threat to the mission of the ranges," the GAO report says.

GAO: NRC cost estimating procedures aren't reliable

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's overall cost estimating procedures do not create reliable cost estimates, a recently released Dec. 12 Government Accountability Office report says. While some of the NRC's cost estimation procedures incorporate best practices, the agency isn't doing enough to make sure the cost estimates are accurate, the report says.

Agencies to charge feds for taking vacation or sick leave on snow days, says OPM

Federal employees who take vacation or sick leave on a day when federal offices are closed due to inclement weather will now be charged for those days, a new Office of Personnel Management policy says. Previously, when agencies closed due to bad weather it was considered a non-workday, and an employee that had previously been approved to take the day off would not be charged for that day.

Brookings: Long-term CBO projections less reliable due to unforseeable circumstances

Congressional Budget Office projections become less reliable as the temporal length of the projection period grows, says Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Henry Aaron in a Dec. 15 report. Budget projections can provide a valuable look at what the world will look like if current laws remain in place, but they cannot tell how or when to act in the face of major changes, Aaron says in the report.

Report: Agencies aren't requiring grant recipients to provide information on grant performance

The federal government faces significant challenges in controlling grants and benefit programs administered in partnership with state and local governments and not-for-profit institutions, says a Dec. 16 Association of Government Accountants report.

Long wait times, low access to live help mar IRS taxpayer phone service, GAO says

The GAO report said "more than a third of calls ended with the taxpayer hanging up, receiving a busy signal, or being disconnected before reaching an assistor." In 2014, taxpayers had to wait more than twice as long to speak with an assistor than they did in 2009.