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2:14 am, August 23, 2014

House News

VA defends 'outlandish' performance rating, bonus systems

Despite reports of delayed patient treatments, falsified records and preventable veteran deaths, the Department of Veterans Affairs said all of its 470 senior executives have been rated "successful" over the past four fiscal years. The ratings have sparked outrage among members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, whose chairman called the performance rating and bonus system at the VA "outlandish."

Friday - 06/20/2014, 03:07pm EDT

Dan Metcalfe, Adjunct Professor of Law, American University

The IRS keeps revealing more instances of lost emails of employees in its tax exempt division. This week's revelation from the House Ways and Means Committee follows Friday's disclosure that a computer crash eliminated thousands of emails from former division chief Lois Lerner. Investigators now say another six division employees had their computers crash. Two Republican lawmakers call on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS. Commissioner John Koskinen faces skeptical members of Congress today. Dan Metcalfe is an American University law professor and executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy. He joined Tom Temin on the Federal Drive to discuss the records management side of this issue.

Friday - 06/20/2014, 01:22am EDT
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Lawmakers: IRS lost more emails in tea party probe

On Tuesday, two key lawmakers said the IRS has also lost emails from six additional IRS workers whose computers crashed. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner's boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller.

Wednesday - 06/18/2014, 03:04am EDT

White House opposes House's $570B defense bill

The Obama administration said Tuesday that the bill would hamper efforts to reduce unneeded expenses and match the military to the president's defense strategy. The bill blocks another round of military base closings and spares some aircraft.

Tuesday - 06/17/2014, 06:48pm EDT

Gridlock: And the winner is you?

The mid-term elections are upon us, and some people are complaining about political fatigue and gridlock. But for federal and postal workers and retirees these may be the good old days, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says.

Tuesday - 06/17/2014, 02:00am EDT

Steve Grundman, George Lund Fellow, Atlantic Council

House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry is in the middle of a bipartisan effort to reform defense acquisition policies. The goal is to save money and inspire new technology development in the defense industrial base. But plenty of ideas to reform DoD acquisition have floated around Washington for years. Steve Grundman is former Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs and Installations and George Lund fellow at the Atlantic Council. He shared a list of principles to finally turn those ideas into action on In Depth with Francis Rose.

Monday - 06/16/2014, 03:50pm EDT
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Lawmakers push to approve unified veterans' bill

After 2 votes, Congress hopes to send veterans' health care bill to White House

Friday - 06/13/2014, 01:40pm EDT

Did dangerous political climate change start this week?

Does an upset in a political primary in Richmond, Virginia, mean permanent political gridlock in Washington? According to some pros, everything changed last Tuesday, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says.

Friday - 06/13/2014, 02:00am EDT

Congress moving to ensure speedier care for vets

Responding to uproar over delays, House votes for speedier care for US vets; Senate is next

Wednesday - 06/11/2014, 03:52am EDT

Martin Matishak, Staff Writer, The Hill Newspaper

Leaders of both the House and Senate pledge to move quickly on legislation to help the Veterans Affairs Department treat the more than 100,000 vets who are either waiting months for medical appointments or have been unable to see a doctor. At a House hearing late last night, a top VA official apologized for the delays, calling them indefensible. Martin Matishak, staff writer at The Hill, joined Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive to discuss prospects for legislation and VA's future.

Tuesday - 06/10/2014, 09:34am EDT
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The Vacation Kings return

Congress is back at work, after its most recent vacation, and members are filled with righteous indignation. Fortunately for federal workers, it isn't directed at their pay, benefits or retirement package, Senior Correspondent Mike Causey says.

Tuesday - 06/10/2014, 02:00am EDT

More problems with VA scheduling systems revealed

The electronic wait system for keeping track of and monitoring initial primary-care appointments for new patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities is not the only scheduling system at VA that's now under scrutiny. A separate system for monitoring VA patients' access to outpatient specialty care -- such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists and physical therapists is also "unreliable," according to GAO's Debra Draper, who testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee Monday evening.

Monday - 06/09/2014, 05:21pm EDT

John Mahoney, Federal Employment Attorney

The House has approved a bill to give the Veterans Affairs secretary the right to fire senior executives almost at will. It's understandable members of Congress are outraged over long waiting times and falsification of records at VA hospitals, compounded by the fact that VA managers have received millions of dollars in bonuses. But it's not clear whether the proposal is legal. In our weekly legal loop segment, federal employment attorney John Mahoney spoke with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp on the Federal Drive. He explained exactly what the House approved and who the bill affects.

Thursday - 06/05/2014, 09:00am EDT
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Erik Wasson, Staff Writer, The Hill Newspaper

Congress may seem consumed by hot-button issues like the Veterans Affairs scandal, but it is moving forward on the nitty-gritty. The House has passed a few fiscal 2015 budget bills. It's moving forward on others. In the Senate, Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) pledges: no more government on auto-pilot. Her committee will approve spending bills too. For an update on all the appropriations, Erik Wasson, a staff writer at The Hill, spoke with Tom and Emily on the Federal Drive.

Tuesday - 06/03/2014, 06:53pm EDT
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Congress joins the fray as protests mount over strategic sourcing

Reps. Grace Meng and Tim Walberg introduce a provision in the Defense authorization bill to require GAO to study the impact of strategic sourcing on small businesses. GSA also is facing more than two dozen protests over its current and future office supplies contracts and now OASIS.

Tuesday - 06/03/2014, 01:29pm EDT

House bill cuts 'red tape' at VA, but at what cost?

On its surface, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014 is simple, but its simplicity belies the risks it presents for VA employees, former DHS CHCO Jeff Neal says.

Friday - 05/30/2014, 04:57pm EDT

With budget deadline still months away, should agencies start prepping for CR?

The Sept. 30 deadline for Congress to deliver a complete fiscal 2015 budget plan is still about four months away. But with a lengthy summer recess spanning nearly the entire month of August, that leaves fewer than 40 working days for the appropriation committees on Capitol Hill to finalize agency spending levels. That has some budget watchers already raising the possibility of a stopgap continuing resolution to fund government operations.

Thursday - 05/29/2014, 05:09pm EDT
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Tracking the 2015 budget

Congress has until Sept. 30 to deliver a complete fiscal 2015 budget plan setting agency funding levels. Track the progress of your agency's 2013 appropriations bill.

Thursday - 05/29/2014, 04:44pm EDT

House panel snubs Pentagon on defense spending

The House panel that decides defense spending came out with a $570 billion blueprint Thursday that spares the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, gives military personnel a 1.8 percent pay raise and rebuffs Pentagon efforts to make troops and their families pay slightly more for housing and groceries at on-base commissaries.

Thursday - 05/29/2014, 04:01pm EDT

VA hacks away at claims backlog, increases accuracy

Allison Hickey, VA's undersecretary for benefits, said VBMS has transformed the agency from a paper system to one that mostly relies on electronic data. Some lawmakers express concern about the way the agency is measuring how it reduces the number of veterans waiting for benefits.

Wednesday - 05/28/2014, 04:49am EDT
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