Freedom of Information Act reform is dead for this Congressional session. As House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) closed the last meeting of the 113th Congress, the FOIA bill was nowhere to be found despite pleas from both sides of the aisle. The Senate last week passed updated bipartisan FOIA legislation and urged House lawmakers to pass the bill before the current session ends.
The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA, will be rolled in to the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, according to a Dec. 3 statement from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The legislation would give federal chief information officers more acquisition oversight.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Tuesday was named the new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, set to take over from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in the new year, getting the assignment over three other, more senior members.
Watchdogs from several agencies told a House panel their independence is threated by agencies refusing to turn over documents and finding ways to circumvent handing them over. Inspectors General from the Justice Department, Peace Corps and Environmental Protection Agency spoke out against losing their independence to agencies who use statutory or legal authority to keep documents out of the IGs' hands.
With the revelation that the Healthcare.gov website was hacked into last week, congressional lawmakers said they're taking a closer look at what happened as well as stepping up hearings on cybersecurity.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blasted the Labor Department over what he calls wasteful spending on promoting the agency. Issa wants the DOL to hand over documents and information related to agency spending and claims he has information that the DOL spent $600,000 on informational elevator posters, $25,000 in entry fees for public relations contests and $100,000 to promote a book club.
The Office of Personnel Management wants to make it easier for federal workers to telework, an Aug. 22 OPM memo says. Agencies should remove barriers or limitations that unnecessarily restrict federal workers from using existing workplace flexibilities and work-life programs, the memo says.
The House Oversight Committee chairman wants answers from the Commerce Department about why reports show that patent examiners and paralegals lied about their hours while teleworking. At the end of July, the Commerce Department inspector general found that many paralegal specialists at the PTO "were frequently paid to do nothing". The practice persisted over several years even as a backlog of appeals cases grew during that time.
Nearly 50 inspectors general have signed a letter to congressional oversight committees, pointing out that recent restrictions in accessing records at three agencies could jeopardize the work and authority of every federal IG.
The SSA's Disability Case Processing System, or DCPS, has failed to produce a working system after more than six years of development and $288 million, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.