Monthly Archives: October, 2008

Happy Customers

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Citizens like you, they really like you…or at least your agencies’ websites. That’s according to the latest quarterly report released by ForeSee Results today. ForeSee is that company that helps the government conduct its user feedback analysis. You may have seen their little while survey boxes pop up when you’re cruising your favorite dot-gov site. ForeSee sees that the customer satisfaction with federal websites is on the rise. In the latest report satisfaction improved 1.4 percent to 73.9 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index 100-point scale. That figure is just the governmentwide average. Approximately 25 percent of government sites scored…

Your donations, Bloch's defense

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Can’t find a worthy charity in the Combined Federal Campaign? Send a check to the Scott Bloch Legal Defense Trust! (Donations are not tax-deductible, sorry.) The recently-retired special counsel is looking for help to defray his mounting legal costs. Bloch was forced out of office last week, an event that capped years of controversy surrounding his tenure, but still faces an ongoing grand jury investigation. The Web site includes praise for Bloch from a number of conservative luminaries, including Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes, Heritage Foundation co-founder Paul Weyrich, and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) Noticeably absent is any praise…

Calls continue to cap CEOs pay

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., plans to introduce a bill next month to cap executives’ pay — and the bill has a catchy name. The “Stop the Greed on Wall Street Act” would ban companies that received cash from the Treasury Department’s financial rescue plan from paying any employees more than $400,000. That’s the salary currently earned by the U.S. president. The cap would make $400,000 the max for total compensation, including cars, benefits and retirement, all of which have added up to millions of extra dollars for CEOs. Outlining legislation he plans to introduce when Congress reconvenes next month, Sanders…

Drilling down at MMS, and the numbers aren't pretty

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We’ve written before, on this blog and in the newspaper, about the problems at Interior’s Minerals Management Service, which collects royalties from oil and gas exploration projects on federal lands. The most recent problems affect the “royalty-in-kind” program, which collects royalties in the form of oil and gas instead of cash; MMS sells the products for a profit. MMS says it’s more lucrative than a cash royalty program; good-government groups and many experts disagree. Apparently, so does the Government Accountability Office (pdf): MMS’s annual reports to the Congress do not fully describe the performance of the royalty-in-kind program and, in…

Burrowing in at midnight

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The Congressional Research Service has an interesting report out (pdf) on the presidential transition. CRS found that the president’s “lame duck” status between Election Day and Inauguration Day leads to all kinds of interestingly named activities, everything from “midnight rulemaking” to “burrowing in.” We’ll have a longer look at “midnight rulemaking” in next week’s Federal Times, which comes out on Nov. 3. Basically, though, agency heads push through all kinds of last-minute regulations. November-January is usually a quiet time for regulatory agencies, but their output doubles during a transition year — and many of the regulations are approved without proper…

The cost of war…

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…is now $864 billion according to a Congressional Research Service report posted on the blog Secrecy News. That’s just a scant $164 billion more than the government is planning to spend to bailout Wall Street. To be fair, it did take the Defense Department 8 years to get to that level of spending. The CRS figure includes appropriations and supplementals made between fiscal years 2001 and 2009. Three-quarters of the war spending, about $657 billion, funded the war in Iraq. Another fifth, $173 billion, went to the war in Afghanistan. And $28 billion enhanced security at military bases. But what…

Feds split on choice for next president

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While national polls consistently show Democratic Sen. Barack Obama leading Republican Sen. John McCain in the presidential race — anywhere from 2 percent to 15 percent — federal employees who will be working under the next commander-in-chief are decidedly less certain. According to an unscientific poll currently running on the Federal Times website, Obama and McCain are tied at 45 percent of the vote.  More than 2,000 readers have responded as of Wednesday morning. Among the remaining respondents, 5 percent are undecided and another 2 percent say they plan to vote for another candidate. Perhaps most interestingly, 3 percent say they don’t plan to vote…

Full-sized liquids on planes in 2009?

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Yes, business travelers, you may be able to start carrying on full-sized toothpastes and shampoos when you fly in 2009. That’s according to the Transportation Security Administration, which says it’s working to beef up screening processes and speed up airport security lines. Current regulations ban carrying on most liquids, gels and aerosols in containers larger than 3 ounces. A TSA official told USA Today that the restrictions could be lifted in 2009, though travelers would still need to put any liquid or gel containers in a separate bag for X-ray machines. By 2010, passengers may even be able to keep…

It's not "junk mail," but recycle it anyway

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I usually delete most of the press releases that come into my inbox — sorry, PR folks — but this one from the Postal Service caught my eye. It’s about recycling boxes being installed in post offices, near the P.O. boxes: The PO Box Lobby Recycling program places secure recycling bins in Post Office lobbies. All bins are locked with a key and the opening is slim — about the width of a news magazine. PO Box customers are encouraged to remove and open their mail (read), take whatever action is necessary (respond) and simply place the rest of their…

The award no one wants

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That’s the title of Porker of the Month, awarded by Citizens Against Government Waste to the government official they deemed has most egregiously wasted taxpayer money in the past month. October’s Porker of the Month is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who spent $355,000 to sponsor a NASCAR driver to promote the upcoming digital television transition. In a press release, the organization said the spending is especially wasteful considering the FCC has flooded television channels with paid advertisements for months in advance of the February 2009 switch. “This doesn’t seem like the most efficient use of resources,” said FCC…

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