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Jack Moore is a web editor and general assignment reporter for Federal News Radio.
A new Government Accountability Office report found that three main actors in contingency contracting — the Defense and State Departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development — will likely only implement a fraction of the recommendations set out by the Commission on Wartime Contracting. The agencies have either determined their existing policies already address the commission's concerns or they disagreed with the recommendation in the first place, GAO found.
Returns for most of the basic Thrift Savings Plan basic funds continued inching up in July, with only the S Fund, pegged to stocks of small and medium-sized U.S. companies, dipping into the red for the month.
Faced with congressional inaction in averting looming across-the-board cuts that take effect in January, the Office of Management and Budget will begin meeting with agency leaders to discuss how the cuts will be implemented. In a memo to agency heads, OMB Director Jeff Zients said his office will consult with agencies to determine which budget accounts and programs are exempt from sequestration.
Defense industry executives have spent the last few weeks warning that across-the-board budgets cuts that go into effect in January, could force them to issue notifications to employees in the fall to warn of impending layoffs. However, in a new memo issued Monday, the Labor Department said the lack of clarity about how the cuts would be applied means it would be "inappropriate" to issue Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notifications.
Legislation forcing the White House to explain how the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration will affect individual agencies is now waiting for President Barack Obama's signature. The Senate unanimously approved the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 Wednesday, which requires the administration to detail within 30 days how the $1.2 trillion over 10 years in automatic cuts will be applied. The House passed its version of the bill last week in a 414-2 vote.
The inspector general for the Social Security Administration estimated the agency is sitting on about $134 million for benefit checks that sit uncashed by recipients for more than a year - money subsequently returned to the agency. But the IG report found most of the recipients who didn't cash their checks are still eligible for the assistance and the SSA could take additional steps to ensure they receive them.
Lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are upset over new disclosures about spending at the General Services Administration. Reps. John Mica (R-Fla.), the committee chairman, and Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) held a press conference Thursday to reveal details from an internal GSA investigation that revealed one of the agency's division spent more than $268,000 on a one-day November 2010 conference in Washington, D.C.
The House handily approved a bipartisan bill requiring the Obama administration to provide more information about how automatic, across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, will be implemented starting in January. While the vote cut across party lines, lawmakers continue to disagree about ways to come up with alternatives.
After a two-month delay, all civilian employees at the Defense Department, as well as several other agencies, can now contribute to the recently rolled-out Roth option for their Thrift Savings Plans.
Congress is demanding more answers about how $1.2 trillion in budget cuts set to take effect in January will be applied across the government. The House Budget Committee Wednesday unanimously approved a bill directing the Obama administration to provide Congress a report that provides specific details about how the spending cuts will affect federal agencies and programs. Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee formally requested that the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeff Zients, testify before the committee on the "mechanics and impact" of the automatic cuts.
Congress has made quick work, so far, of the 12 annual bills setting agency spending for fiscal 2013. Over the past few months, the House Appropriations Committee has approved 10 of the bills, and the full House has OK'd five of them. The full Senate has approved no appropriations bill so far this year, however the committee has reported out eight bills.
The Office of Management and Budget has reiterated to lawmakers that the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration will apply to wartime funding. In a June 15 letter, to Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeff Zients wrote that the Budget Control Act allowed no "flexibility" to exempt Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), from sequestration.
Defense contractors are growing increasingly worried about the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, which are set to take effect in January. Marion Blakey, the president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said the cuts would hit the defense industry particularly hard.
Despite mounting pressure from certain quarters of the government and Congress to more aggressively suspend and debar irresponsible contractors, some agencies only rarely, if ever, do so. Rob Burton, the former acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said data on suspensions and debarments isn't always an apples-to-apples comparison.
Joe Jordan has led the Office of Federal Procurement Policy for a little more than two weeks. But he's wasting no time setting priorities. Jordan spoke to In Depth with Francis Rose as part of Federal News Radio's week-long special report, Inside the World's Biggest Buyer.
Two former administrators of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Al Burman and Steve Kelman, discuss how acquisition reforms and improvements often fall prey to partisanship. One of OFPP's goals is not only to create acquisition policy, but systems that last beyond one administration. "You want to try to have continuity, as much as you can and keep better management of the procurement system out of partisan politics as much as you can," Kelman said. "If it's just an initiative — if it's forgotten in six months — it's never going to accomplish anything."
When the Defense Department began contingency contracting operations on a large-scale in Iraq in 2003 it was largely a trial by fire. Despite the best planning, DoD lacked the programs and practical solutions to handle the environment, officials say. Since then, commissions, panels and lawmakers have offered fixes and DoD has evolved to try to create "rock-solid" reforms. Federal News Radio examines these issues in the next part of our series, Inside the World's Biggest Buyer.
The State Department's share of overseas contingency contracting has grown over the last few years as the department took on new activities and functions as the military departed Iraq. Still, the budget shows, the Defense Department is the main player in overseas contingency contracting. And there's no guarantee Congress won't turn to the foreign affairs budget in its efforts to dramatically reduce the deficit.
A sophisticated cyber attack against the Thrift Savings Plan contractor responsible for maintaining the agency's data centers compromised the information of 123,000 TSP participants. However, there is no indication the data has been misused, according to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. There is also no indication that the TSP's network or its website were affected.
Jeff Neely, the regional General Services Administration commissioner accused of creating a culture of lavish spending at the agency, is no longer employed by GSA.