President Obama directed agencies to make it easier for local jurisdictions to face the effects of climate change by directing them to scour their policies for barriers that discourage investments into national resilience or even increase the vulnerability of natural or man-made systems.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded to a Senate Panel Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchange enrollment numbers for the first month will be very low. The numbers have yet to be released, but Sebelius said they would be released next week and include both Medicaid and health plan numbers in the new exchanges. "We are still at the beginning of a six month open enrollment which ends at the end of March," she said. "And there's plenty of time to sign up for the new plan."
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs moved to the Senate Nov. 6 two Postal Regulatory Commission members, both of which support legislation that would change the way the Postal Service provides healthcare to retirees.
Congressional voting patterns tend to shift in the president's favor during times of war--and the effect was especially strong during World War II and the post-9/11 wars, according to a new book on the wartime presidency. The book's authors--two political science professors and a Brookings Institution fellow--discussed their findings at a Brookings event Nov. 1.
Between 2005 and 2010, the U.S. Marshal Service spent nearly $800,000 on promotional swag such crystal statues, scars and Christmas ornaments due to lax oversight, a Nov. 5 Justice Department inspector general report says. The IG found the USMS Investigative Operations Division spent at least $793,118 on promotional items that these expenditures were excessive and, in some instances, in contravention of department policies.
The General Services Administration plans to experiment with car-sharing services as it considers whether the model suits the government's needs. In a request for information issued Nov. 5, GSA says that car-sharing may be more cost-effective than renting, leasing or purchasing when agencies only need vehicles intermittently.
The government could save between $540 million and $770 million annually by moving to a shared service model for financial systems, an Oct. 30 Association of Government Accountant's report on a September AGA panel on shared services. With shared services, financial management systems become standardized across agencies, use fewer resources and a central staff.
The cash for clunkers program, which was supposed to boost short term vehicle sales and reduce carbon emissions, ended up costing more than it was worth, an Oct. 30 Brookings report says. The $2.85 billion Car Allowance Rebate System, known as cash for clunkers, provided economic incentives to people who bought new, more fuel-efficient vehicles when they traded in their less fuel-efficient vehicles. The program was offered July 1 to Aug. 24, 2009.
The Veterans Affairs Department doesn't support a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee bill that would require the VA to post information about the average processing times for disability claims, said VA Deputy Undersecretary for Health Robert Jesse. And though the bill was introduced as a way to monitor and keep transparent the backlog of claims, the VA thinks collecting and posting all of that information would be burdensome and actually slow down processing.
While science research programs received less funding 10 years ago than they do today, they benefitted from the fact that the Energy Department had a better feel for how much money was coming. Today, however, funding levels are in flux, making long term planning difficult, said Pat Dehmer, deputy director of science programs at the DOE's office of science.