The Senate confirmed Ernest Moniz as energy secretary on May 16 by a 97-0 vote. Moniz, previously a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was nominated in March to replace Steven Chu, also a former physics professor.
Scientists at the Energy Department's national security laboratories miss out on valuable conferences because the labs restrict their attendance too much, said Charles Shank, a former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at a Senate hearing May 7.
Set-aside contracts for women-owned small businesses no longer have a maximum value, under an interim final rule published May 7 by the Small Business Administration. Previously, a contract could not exceed $4 million to be eligible for the Women-Owned Small Business Program, unless it was a manufacturing contract, in which case it could not exceed $6.5 million.
Federal agencies can now replace aging vehicles with new hybrid electric sedans, and the General Services Administration will fund the difference in cost, the agency announced April 22.
GAO identified duplication in some testing activities undertaken to verify that products meet the criteria for carrying the EPA Energy Star label. EPA and DOE each manage separate verification testing programs and the GAO found 11 instances in which identical models had been tested twice in the same year. That's about one percent of the products tested by the EPA and DOE overall, the report says.
The Energy Department has relied too heavily on its architecture and engineering contractors and started projects before construction was properly planned, causing project costs to spiral out of control, DOE Director Acquisition and Project Management Paul Bosco said in a March 22 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
In 2012, agencies processed more than half a million FOIA requests, but they only released information with no redactions in 41 percent of requests, according to the report, released March 13. It drew on data from 25 major federal agencies, including most cabinet-level departments.
Government scientists have gained more whistleblower protection and freedom to express personal opinions under the Obama administration, but most agencies still do not give scientists access to drafts and final revisions in which their work played a part, a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found .
Four federal agencies and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation have published an action plan to improve the protection of sites held as sacred by American Indians and Alaska Natives, and provide greater tribal access to these sites.
Quarterly data-driven performance reviews are effective tools for improving performance and decision making and could be further strengthened if relevant agencies participated in each other's reviews, says the Government Accountability Office.