News

Proposed rule would prohibit contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss pay

A Labor Department proposed rule would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants who inquire or discuss compensation. "Workers cannot solve a problem unless they are able to identify it," said Patricia Shiu, director of the DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in a Sept. 15 statement. "And they cannot identify it if they aren't free to talk about it without fear of reprisal."

House committee approves legislation to give IGs more power

A House committee Wednesday passed legislation that would make it easier for inspectors general to compel agencies to hand over information during investigations. The bill (H.R.5492) would allow inspectors general to write testimonial subpoenas for federal government contractors and former employees. That would strengthen the independence of inspectors general and allow them investigate agencies with less obstruction, a Sept. 17 statement from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says.

VA plans to bump doctor pay to recruit new talent

The Veterans Affairs Department plans to bump pay for VA doctors and dentists in an effort to recruit more top talent, a Sept. 18 Federal Register Notice says. "These annual pay ranges are intended to enhance VA flexibility to recruit, develop and retain the most highly qualified providers to serve our nation's veterans and maintain a standard of excellence in the VA healthcare system," the notice says.

House passes stop-gap spending measure

With time running out before the fiscal year ends, the House Wednesday night overwhelmingly approved a stop-gap measure to fund the government through Dec. 11 once the new fiscal years starts Oct. 1. Under the bill (H.J.Res.124), which passed by a vote of 319-108, the government would be funding at fiscal 2014 levels and doesn't address federal employee pay raises. That paves the way for President Obama's authorization of a 1 percent pay raise for feds.

GSA focuses on environment with Green Proving Ground, FBI consolidation plans

Two recent announcements from the General Services Administration demonstrate how federal building management is increasingly focused on environmental innovation and emerging technologies, as well as environmental risk management.

GAO: Contracting officers not monitoring 8(a) subcontracting limits

Contracting officers aren't collecting information on the amount of work subcontractors are doing for prime small business contractors with set aside contracts, a Sept. 16 Government Accountability Office report says. Small Businesses Administration's 8(a) program, is meant to help developing small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals get contracts with the federal government through set asides.

D.C. statehood gets Hill hearing, prospects low that bill would pass

For the first time since 1993, the D.C. statehood movement had their say on Capitol Hill with a hearing before a Senate committee Monday. Speaking to a half empty hearing room on a statehood bill (S.132), advocates laid out arguments for why the District should be granted the same rights a state.

House passes bill to make it easier to fire federal senior executives

The House Tuesday passed a bill that would make it easier to discipline or fire poorly performing senior executives governmentwide. The bill (H.R. 5169) would expand the criteria for firing Senior Executive Service employees and allow agencies to suspend them for up to 14 days without pay.

Is USPS delusional in direct mail confidence?

Direct mail is a stale marketing medium reserved for teeth whitening services and carpet cleaning companies, right? Not so, says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

TIGTA: IRS slow to process complaints against tax preparers

The Internal Revenue Service isn't processing complaints against tax preparers in a timely manner, which leaves unethical tax preparers able to swindle more taxpayers, a recently released Aug. 8 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report says. The IRS processed about 77 million individual electronically filed federal income tax returns prepared by paid tax return preparers in 2013.

EPA should apply sustainability tools in decision making, says National Research Council

The Environmental Protection Agency does not apply sustainability tools to its decision making in the same way it emphasizes approaches such as exposure assessment, risk analysis and environmental-footprint analysis, or social and economic tools, says the National Research Council.

IG: USPS not following proper process for planning DRIVE marketing goals

Postal Services managers didn't follow the proper management processes when planning and evaluating metrics for a new marketing initiative aimed at increasing revenue for the beleaguered agency, a Sept. 10 USPS inspector general report says. USPS originally established 36 Delivering Results, Innovation, Value, and Efficiency initiatives in fiscal 2011 to improve its business strategy.

Report: EEOC reversed nearly 45 percent of claims dismissed by agencies

Nearly 45 percent of agency decisions to dismiss employee discrimination claims were overturned by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal 2012. That's up 15 percent from four years prior, a Sept. 15 EEOC report says. In the equal employment opportunity process for federal employees, federal agencies initially process complaints of employment discrimination. Agencies can dismiss complaints without investigation on a variety of procedural grounds, the report says.

VA lacks understanding of civilian adjustment, finds GAO

Although the Veterans Affairs Department lists veteran wellness and economic security as a strategic objective, the department lacks information to assess its ability to meet that goal, finds a Sept. 10 Government Accountability Office report. Veterans readjusting to civilian life often face employment challenges, relationship difficulties, homelessness or substance abuse, say auditors.

Report: IGs want more freedom and fewer congressional mandates

Congressionally mandated investigations like those concerning conference spending are burdening agency inspectors general, preventing them from diving into in-depth work that focuses on more nefarious behavior, says a Sept. 15 report by the Association of Government Accountants and Kearney & Company.

GAO: Agencies not transparent about what makes new rules significant

Agencies aren't doing enough to make clear the importance of new proposed rules during the rulemaking process, a Sept. 11 Government Accountability Office report says. GAO's review found that for the majority of the 109 significant rules reviewed, the rulemaking process is not as transparent as it could be.

Anne Rung confirmed to head OFPP

The Senate Thursday confirmed Anne Rung by voice voted to head the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. The top spot at the Office of Management and Budget's procurement policy shop has been vacant since Joe Jordan left for the private sector eight months ago.

Former DoD worker pleads guilty to $2.2M in fraudulent federal healthcare claims

A former civilian Defense Department employee pled guilty last week to collecting more than $2.2 million in fraudulent federal healthcare claims, a Sept. 8 Justice Department statement says. Jonathan Hargett, who was living in Germany, was indicted in October 2013 and extradited in July for trial, the statement says. Hargett will be sentenced Nov. 18 and faces a likely prison term of 46 to 57 months and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000.

CFC launches program to give feds more options to donate

As the Office of Personnel Management kicks of the 2014 federal charity season, the agency launched a new initiative to let federal workers donate to charities outside their locality. OPM launched its universal giving program as part of the Combined Federal Campaign. With it, feds are no longer limited to donating to the charities listed on the local CFC charity list, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a Sept. 10 blog post.

OPM won't renew USIS background check contract

The Office of Personnel Management plans to not review its contract with the company that allegedly defrauded OPM by not properly completing security clearance background checks and trying to cover up the situation. The move comes after the USIS--one of the contractors responsible for federal background checks--suffered a cyberattack in August that compromised the files of 25,000 Homeland Security Department workers and is under investigation by the FBI, the AP reported on Sept. 10.