Federal workers who give top-notch customer service could get performance awards in the future, according to a June 30 Office of Management and Budget update of cross-agency goals. The award structure is slated to be completed by the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 and expected to launch by the first quarter of fiscal 2015, the update says.
The Postal Service could benefit financially from the rise of 3D printing because of a rise in shipping packages short distances rather than from large warehouses across the country, a July 7 USPS inspector general report says. The total 3D printing industry was valued at around $3 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to $16.2 billion by 2018, the report (pdf) says.
The White House directed agencies to improve public access to scientific information as part of its third annual Open Government Plan. The Office of Science and Technology Policy released the third version of the transparency strategy (pdf) June 1. It builds on earlier versions released in 2010 and 2012.
A National Research Council report says NASA's current strategy won't result in a human landing on Mars anytime in the near future. To continue on its current path is to "invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best," the June 4 report says.
The General Services Administration plans to use industry-created, open source technology to save energy and reduce costs governmentwide. In the private sector, Green Button allows commercial and residential users to download their energy usage and offers tools for saving money on electricity costs. It serves nearly 100 million people.
The Energy Department doesn't always share its research results with the public and the DOE's auditor says the problem isn't new. "The failure to obtain and disseminate the results of department-funded research has been a long standing problem that the Office of Inspector General has previously brought to management's attention," The DOE inspector general says in a May 22 report.
Lowest Price, Technically Acceptable contracts might save the government some money, but they deter innovation, a panel of government contracting officials said Monday. "I don't know a senior leader in government that thinks LPTA is the best," said Tiffany Hixson, regional commissioner for the General Services Administration. "Contracting and innovation is about risk management.
Engineering and biotechnology researchers are working together to develop 3-D printers to build human tissues and organs for transplant. Cross-disciplinary collaboration is necessary to not only understand how cells can be sustained through the printing process but also how these printers should be designed and constructed.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has adopted a more comprehensive definition of technology transfer and is improving the metrics it relies on when assessing its efficiency and success in transferring technology to the private sector.
President Obama announced an additional $2 billion will be available over the next three years for contracts going to energy efficiency upgrades for federal buildings. The new contracting money comes after an earlier goal of $2 billion for energy savings performance contracts from 2011 to 2013, a May 9 White House announcement says.