News

VA IG: Senior official pressured employees to award FedBid contracts

A Veteran's Health Administration procurement executive pressured employees and worked the acquisition system to award FedBid contracts for reverse-auctions, a Sept. 26 Veteran's Affairs Department inspector general report says. The report (pdf) says Susan Taylor, VHA's deputy chief procurement officer, in 2010 pressured staff repeatedly in emails to speed up the acquisition process and pick FedBid - a Vienna, Va. based reverse auction vendor - for the reverse auction contracts.

Customer churn a significant problem for USPS financial outlook

The postal service lost revenue in 2012 and 2013 due to reduced spending from commercial customers – a segment making up 71 percent of USPS's customer base. The magnitude of the problem has a "significant impact" on the postal service's revenue and financial outlook, says the office of inspector general.

DoD seeks to close predatory lending loopholes

The Defense Department wants to close loopholes in current rules that are meant to protect servicemembers and their families from predatory lenders. In 2006, Congress passed a law that caps interest rates on loans for active duty troops and their families. The DoD then determined which lenders the law applied to.

GAO: Effect of performance information on feds' decisions stagnates

Performance information's effect on federal managers' decision-making has remained largely unchanged in six years, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Between 2007 and 2013, the government's overall score for using such information went from 3.46 to 3.41, the Sept. 26 report (pdf) says. It's based on the latest performance information index, which GAO uses to monitor implementation of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 at.

VA announces new disability claims process meant to cut down on wait times

The Veterans Affairs Department announced Sept. 24 the availability of a new disability claims application designed to cut down on wait times and improve processing accuracy. In the past, a veteran or their survivors didn't have to use a particular form to seek disability benefits. Claims or appeals could be submitted on any piece of paper, but that caused delays due to missing information.

Obama sets out new open government initiatives

President Obama renewed his commitment to open government by laying out a new set of initiatives that will call on the U.S. Digital Service to make it easier for citizens to engage with the government, a Sept. 24 Open Government Partnership action plan says.

MSPB: Women now make up smaller percentage of new hires than they did in 2000

Federal agencies are hiring fewer women than they did 14 years ago, with the percentage of female hires falling by six percentage points, a quarterly report from the Merit Systems Protection Board says. In 2000, women made up about 43 percent of federal hires, while in 2014 that number dropped to 37 percent, the report (pdf) says.

VA settles three whistleblower retaliation cases

The Veterans Affairs Department says it's resolved three claims of whistleblower retaliation in a Sept. 29 statement. The VA worked with the Office of Special Counsel to settle the complaints, the statement says. Based on the validity of their claims of retaliation, each whistleblower settled their complaint with VA and two have accepted new positions within the agency.

GSA executive indicted in conference spending scandal

A former General Services Administration official at the center of the agency's Las Vegas conference spending scandal was indicted Thursday on charges that he submitted fraudulent reimbursement claims and made false statements, the Justice Department said in a Sept. 25 statement.

GAO: DOL needs to better oversee grant process for international child labor aid

The Labor Department needs to better oversee grant monitoring in its program to help prevent child labor across the world, a Sept. 24 Government Accountability Office report says. The DOL uses appropriated funding for grants to improve working conditions by supporting worker rights and combating child labor, mainly through international and nongovernmental organizations.

Holder to step down as head of DOJ

Attorney General Eric Holder will resign after serving more than five years a the nation's first African American attorney general. NPR first reported Thursday that Holder will step down as soon as his successor is confirmed. Holder has been adamant about leaving the Justice Department rather than be locked into serving for the rest of President Obama's term, the NPR story says.

Obama nominees left twisting in the wind as Senate hits campaign trail

Many of President Obama's nominees were left in limbo as the Senate left Washington to hit the campaign trail as November elections near. USAID has been waiting the longest. The agency has gone without an inspector general for three years now. Michael Carroll was nominated back in July 2013 and is still awaiting a hearing.

DOI, CIA lauded for Twitter engagement

The Interior Department and CIA are among several federal entities praised for their ability to engage citizens on Twitter in a new guide for good government tweeting published by the social media platform. In the handbook (pdf), Twitter credits the DOI with an account that is responsive to Twitter users.

Spotlight: NOAA reimbursed for time spent at Star Trek matinee

Money to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been reimbursed following a whistleblower tip that a team-building exercise for the GOES-R Ground Segment staff was improperly billed to the government.

Kendall: DoD must better invest in technology through BBP 3.0

The Defense Department isn't making the investment it should be in technology, but plans to fix that with the third iteration of its Better Buying Power initiative, said DoD Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall at a Sept. 19 Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

GAO: DoD successful in base support consolidation, but still faces challenges

After the Government Accountability Office designated Defense Department support infrastructure a high-risk area for efficiency, the DoD consolidated 80 percent of installation support operations, but faced some challenges, a Sept. 19 Government Accountability Office report says. In 2005, the DoD recommended to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission combining 26 installations into 12 joint bases to generate efficiencies and cost savings, initially estimated to be $2.3 billion, the report says.

IG: USPS not keeping eye on building repairs paid with credit cards

The Postal Service doesn't require written certification for building repairs paid with a credit card or reviewing statements even though those repairs totaled about $22.2 million, a Sept. 22 USPS inspector general report says. The USPS facilities group manages repairs and alterations for more 32,000 facilities, the report (pdf) says.

Audit: DOT not monitoring unauthorized, excessive cash advances, purchases by employees

An internal audit has found that the Transportation Department is not tracking excessive and unauthorized cash advances made by employees using their government-issued travel cards, increasing the chances of misuse or abuse.

GAO recommends W-2 filing changes to help IRS combat fraud

Identity theft tax refund fraud is extremely difficult to detect but changes to the filing of employers' wage data, or W-2s, could help, says the Government Accountability Office.

Postal union: Arbitration forces USPS to add or convert 9,000 union jobs

The Postal Service is set to addor convert 9,000 union jobs in the next 90 days, a Sept. 22 American Postal Workers Union statement says. In a Sept. 5 ruling, an arbitrator concluded that jobs in four-hour and six-hour post offices must be assigned to clerks rather than part-time postmasters, the statement says.