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Jack Moore is a web editor and general assignment reporter for Federal News Radio.
A massive contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in June to manage the Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Information Grid remains in place after the Government Accountability Office denied a bid protest from fellow contractor SAIC. Despite SAIC's allegations, GAO found DISA had reasonably evaluated Lockheed's proposal as well as claims of an organization conflict of interest.
For the second month in a row, performance in all 10 of the Thrift Savings Plan funds posted positive returns, with double-digit gains in many of the funds year-to-date.
The General Services Administration plans to roll out a dozen new technologies designed to better measure and manage energy use in federal facilities, the agency announced Wednesday. The new technologies, part of GSA's Green Proving Ground program, will be used in federal buildings across the country where their effectiveness will be evaluated by GSA and the Energy Department's National Laboratories.
The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board — which manages federal employees' Thrift Savings Plan accounts — approved a 19 percent budget increase for the coming year, allowing it to fund new cybersecurity and hiring initiatives. The $170.5 million budget, which is more than $27 million above 2012 levels, was agreed to following a "rigorous review," the board's director of external affairs, Kim Weaver, told In Depth with Francis Rose.
No matter who wins the Presidential election, non-career officials who might one day serve in either an Obama or Romney administration will face a cumbersome appointment process that is just starting to be reformed. Linda Springer, who served as the head of the Office of Personnel Management during the George W. Bush administration told In Depth with Francis Rose the onerous Senate confirmation process for political appointees has been a longstanding issue.
Agencies failed to meet a lofty goal to cut spending on new contracts considered high-risk by 10 percent. But despite the inconclusive results, contracting experts and agency procurement chiefs told Federal News Radio there's more to evaluating the effort to reduce high-risk contracts than the failure to reach the goal. Federal News Radio examines this as part of the special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years.
The across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, set to take effect Jan. 2 would be "deeply destructive" to national security and core civilian agency programs, according to a comprehensive report from the White House detailing the impact of the cuts on specific programs and accounts. The $109 billion in cuts coming next year — split evenly between Defense civilian agency budgets — would slash Defense discretionary spending by 9.4 percent and civilian agency spending by 8.2 percent.
The six-month stopgap spending bill unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee this week officially continues the federal pay freeze until at least March. The continuing resolution, which runs through March 27, gives lawmakers more time to make appropriations for the coming year and staves off the threat of a government shutdown. When a broad CR was first announced last month, the full Congress had not yet approved any fiscal 2013 spending bills. President Barack Obama proposed last month a 0.5 percent pay raise that would only take effect once Congress passed a 2013 budget — a de facto extension of the current two-year freeze. The CR makes the extension official.
Lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C., this week with a packed agenda. Topping the list of priorities is hammering out final details of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running beyond the end of the fiscal year -- Sept. 30. Amid the election-year politicking, the list of unfinished business also includes legislation to restructure the financially ailing U.S. Postal Service and a cybersecurity bill that aims to safeguard the nation's critical infrastructure. Perhaps looming largest of all is what Congress plans to do about automatic, across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, set to take effect Jan. 2. Failure to avert the cuts could send the country over a "fiscal cliff," budget experts warn.
The White House plans to deliver a report to Congress late next week detailing how automatic, across-the-board cuts, set to take effect in January, will affect specific programs. The report is required under the Sequestration Transparency Act, which Congress overwhelmingly passed this summer and which the President signed on Aug. 7. The law directed the President to issue the detailed report within 30 days of signing it - a deadline that came this week and went unmet.
Dorothy Robyn, who for the last three years has overseen the Defense Department's military facilities and buildings, has been named to head the General Services Administration's embattled Public Buildings Service.
It's no secret Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney envisions broad changes to the federal government and its workforce. In campaign speeches, Romney has spoken of aligning federal pay with that of the private sector and reducing the federal workforce through attrition. But federal unions say Romney's comments and proposals should give feds pause. This story is part of Federal News Radio's special, week-long multimedia report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years.
The Democratic Party platform, released Tuesday, is short on specifics about the federal workforce, particularly relating to federal pay or the size of the federal workforce. However, the platform does cite President Barack Obama's efforts to pare back overly burdensome regulations and his proposed consolidation of federal agencies. "President Obama and the Democrats are committed to rethinking, reforming, and remaking our government so that it can meet the challenges of our time," the authors of the platform wrote.
Civilian agencies may lose almost $40 billion dollars in top-line funding if sequestration goes into effect on Jan. 2, according to a new analysis by the Professional Services Council. Using fiscal 2012 as a baseline, PSC calculated civilian discretionary spending would decline by $39 billion and that individual agency budget would decline by 7.8 percent. More granular data are hard to come by until the Office of Management and Budget provides more details about specific about how the cuts will affect specific programs.
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), whose district in the Washington, D.C., suburbs is home to many federal employees, said he understands the frustration voiced by federal unions about a de facto extension of the federal pay freeze. Sarbanes said too often lawmakers used federal pay and benefits as a "piggybank" in deficit- reduction efforts.
The General Services Administration announced it will five cost-saving ideas generated by GSA employees. The ideas will save the agency more than $5.53 million and include phasing out a redundant employee survey and changing the default settings on printers.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is probing more than 150 conferences hosted by 11 agencies since 2005 where wasteful spending or excessive spending may have have occurred, according to a committee release. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the oversight chairman, said the committee is using the lavish $823,000 regional conference hosted by the General Services Administration in 2010 as a "benchmark" to compare other agencies' conference spending. The committee found the Defense Department has held 64 such conferences.
Spending levels appropriated by Congress, so far, for fiscal 2013 fail to live within the limits set by last year's Budget Control Act (BCA), the Office of Management and Budget said in a report issued Monday. If Congress fails to adhere to the annual limits, OMB is required to enact automatic cuts to bring them back into balance, Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama that preceded OMB's report.
Too often Congress is left "in the dark" when it comes to inspector general investigations of agency misconduct, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wrote in a letter to 73 inspectors general. Issa said he wanted to "establish an understanding between Congress and the IG community" for more rapid reporting of agency misdeeds uncovered by their offices. In his letter, Issa asked the inspectors for more information about their reporting practices to Congress and whether any serious problems were ever not shared with lawmakers.
The Office of Personnel Management received more claims than expected last month, but for the third month in a row processed more claims than it expected to. OPM has also made progress cutting the longstanding backlog of retirement claims. At 44,679 claims, there are now fewer retirement claims stuck in the backlog than there were in December 2011, when OPM began tracking them as part of a new push to eliminate the logjam.