USDA departments need better contract management, GAO finds

Three Agriculture Department agencies failed to use preferred contracts in the procurement of professional services for about two-thirds of the funds assigned for such purchases from fiscal 2009 to 2013, the Government Accountability Office found. That amounts to about $783 million of the nearly $1.8 billion USDA set aside in that time frame for professional services contracts, according to GAO's report (pdf). USDA's Departmental Management, Food and Nutrition Service, and Forest Service account for about 70 percent of the department's total obligations for professional service contracts, but only about 37 percent of the funds were awarded via performance-based, firm-fixed-price contracts, the kinds that the

Government open data efforts continue to struggle, groups say

An audit of the federal government's open data efforts has produced conflicting results. Where there should be URLs that link to downloadable datasets, agencies sometimes have a short message or an identifier for a non-web resource, such as people's computers and internal servers, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicate to government transparency, said in an Oct. 29 blog post.

OPM: Only 59 percent of feds are satisfied with their job

Only 59 percent of federal employees surveyed by the Office of Personnel Management said they were satisfied with their jobs, says OPM's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The global satisfaction index captured four aspects of employee contentment: their job, their pay, their organization and if they would recommend their organization as a good place to work.

OPM: NASA employees most engaged with work

NASA employees are the most engaged with their work among larger agencies and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency topped the category among small agencies, says the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. OPM measured employee engagement as "the employees' sense of purpose that is evident in their display of dedication, persistence and effort in their work or overall attachment to their organization and its mission."

GAO: Some agencies not meeting customer service standards

None of the five agencies that the Government Accountability Office surveyed met all key elements of the government's customer service standards, an Oct. 24 report says.

Response rate for OPM survey down over last four years

Response rates to the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey have dropped by nearly six percentage points over the last four years. In 2010, nearly 53 percent of federal workers responded to the questionnaire. But, by 2014, that number dropped to about 47 percent, the Office of Personnel Management survey shows.

Tangherlini: Shifting away from waterfall will take time

Federal agencies and departments work in an environment that supports a waterfall acquisition process, said General Services Administrator Dan Tangherlini, making a shift to "agile" extremely difficult.

US Park Police's 2013 search of missing woman complied with procedures, IG says

An Interior Department investigation found that the U.S. Park Police's search for a missing woman in 2013 was sufficient despite "inappropriate, insensitive comments" made by a shift commander about her at the time.

Turco: General schedule 'strangles' change in gov't

Agencies are attempting to dutifully move toward shared services – a core Office of Management and Budget priority – but change is difficult, said Kathleen Turco, chief financial officer of the Veterans Health Administration. Turco said the salary construct within government, known as the Office of Personnel Management's general schedule, impedes innovation and risk taking, which makes adopting shared services more difficult.

13 federal unions want lawmakers to block DoD per diem reduction

Beginning Nov. 1, DoD says that civilian employees on government business who stay at a location for more than 30 days will receive a flat per diem that is about 75 percent of a locality's current rate. If they travel for more than 180 days, then the per diem is only 55 percent of the local rate.

US spent $18.5 million on unfinished, unused prison in Afghanistan, SIGAR report says

Despite the State Department shelling out $18.5 million to a contractor, a U.S. prison in Afghanistan still remains unfinished and unused, more than five years after renovation work began, according to a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report.

GAO: New USPS service standards have slowed down mail delivery across country

The U.S. Postal Service's recent changes to its service standards have resulted in slower mail delivery across the country, says a recently released Government Accountability Office report.

Report: Government innovation offices still face some barriers to success

While government innovation offices are set up to catalyze creative problem solving, there are some barriers to achieving that under the current model, says a recently released IBM Center for The Business of Government report.

Fed worker dissatisfaction with senior leaders hits 5-year low, new survey notes

Federal worker satisfaction with their senior leaders hit its lowest point in five years, the 2014 Office of Personnel Management Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey says. But even with that level of dissatisfaction, federal workers said they believed in their own agencies' missions and worked hard to do a good job.

USAID IG removed critical findings from audit reports, news report says

The U.S. Agency for International Development's inspector general removed findings critical of the agency from a final report, the Washington Post reported in an Oct. 22 article.

Army discriminated against transgender employee, OSC determines

A transgender Army civilian employee faced discrimination from higher ups when they wouldn't recognize her transition from male to female, an Oct. 23 Office of Special Counsel statement says.

The Postal Service could soon be delivering your groceries

The Postal Service could soon be delivering groceries to a home near you. The Postal Regulatory Commission approved a pilot program for postal workers to begin delivering groceries to selected markets. On Sept. 23, USPS filed a notice announcing its intent to conduct a market test of an experimental product called Customized Delivery.

Wind energy contract puts GSA on track for conservation goals

The awarding of the largest wind energy contract to a single source in federal contracting history has pushed the General Services Administration on track to meet renewable-energy goals. The 10-year contract for 140 megawatts of clean wind energy went to MG2 Tribal Energy, a joint venture between the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Geronimo Energy, a commercial wind developer.

Union sues USDA, says new inspection rule 'puts fox in charge of the henhouse'

The American Federation of Government Employees is suing the Agriculture Department to block implementation of a new poultry inspection system that the union says could result in diseased or tainted poultry being sold to consumers.

Coburn lays out wasteful spending in his fifth and final report

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn released his own collection of what he calls wasteful spending in the government, ranging from never-used cars to party patrols provided by the Coast Guard. It will be his fifth and last, as the senator will be stepping down in January to focus on his fight with prostate cancer.