Four Forest Service employees were able to rack up $13,700 in improper travel card charges without notice amid what auditors say is a manual tracking process that overwhelms travel management personnel's ability to monitor card usage.
The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2014 agriculture appropriations bill June 13 by a voice vote. The bill (.pdf) includes $19.5 billion in discretionary funding for programs related to food safety, nutrition, rural development and more. The committee said its funding was approximately equal to the current level after the sequestration cuts.
The Office of Management and Budget's estimated governmentwide cost savings from TechStat Accountability Sessions, the oversight program it uses to review agencies' troubled technology investments, could be grossly overstated. Based on agency documentation, the Government Accountability Office identified only $22.2 million in cost savings and avoidances.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that will shift funds within in the Agriculture Department's rural development division to avoid furloughing 4,800 employees due to sequestration cuts, House Appropriations Committee Director of Communication Jennifer Hing said in an e-mail.
An Agriculture Department effort to gain a comprehensive view of livestock and poultry health in a bid for better biosurveillance faces challenges including industry resistance, state confidentiality laws and lack of funding, says the Government Accountability Office.
Significant fire potential will be above normal in much of the West this summer according to National Interagency Fire Center predictions. NIFC's outlook (.pdf) for May through August, issued May 1, says significant fire potential will be above normal for south central Oregon and parts of California in May, with more areas joining them as the summer progresses.
The Agriculture Department April 30 announced the creation of a food, agriculture and rural data community on data.gov. The data.gov micro site will serve as a central resource for data sets, apps, developer tools and collaboration. The USDA also announced an action plan to further agricultural open data efforts beyond the United States.
Federal agencies mislabeled the condition of federally owned properties that were in poor condition and reported that unused buildings were being used, says a Government Accountability Office report (.pdf). Several buildings that received high scores for condition were in fact in poor condition, with problems including, asbestos, mold, radioactivity and flooding.
"If you look at the FY '14 budgets for the individual agencies and staff offices at USDA, almost all of them mention mobility and mobile tools as a priority for them in the budget. Mobile in terms of our own employees--running 3,000 offices is really expensive to maintain. So, we're finding our field-based agencies in particular are looking at mobile so their employees can actually be out of the office.
As the Agriculture Department focuses on information technology consolidation, its chief information officer and chief human capital officer have to work more closely than ever, according to Cheryl Cook, the newly appointed CIO at USDA.