Monthly Archives: November, 2009

241 post offices remain on updated closure list

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The U.S. Postal Service issued another updated list of possible post office closures (pdf) on Friday, and just 241 facilities remain, down from more than 3,300 when the review process started this summer. Most of the proposed closures are still concentrated in a few states. Florida has the most, with 40; mail volume has fallen faster than the national average in Florida, largely due to the collapse in the housing sector. California and Ohio both have 26 possible closures; Georgia has 17; and Tennessee has 16. The list still isn’t final. Postmaster General John Potter said last month that he…

We're close to having TSA, OFPP leaders confirmed

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Two critical federal leadership positions may soon be filled. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has unanimously approved Erroll Southers as administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and Daniel Gordon as administrator for the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. The committee approved both nominations by voice vote Nov. 19. It’s unclear whether the Senate will vote on these, or any other nominations, before it recesses sometime next week for Thanksgiving. Both nominees are considered non controversial.

Grinch of the day: Sex offender kills USPS Santa program for some towns

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UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Sue Brennan from the Postal Service, who said the AP report isn’t entirely accurate. The Postal Service isn’t canceling the whole letters to Santa program, but local post offices that don’t have the resources to redact childrens’ addresses and replace them with codes — as is now required by the Postal Service — will have to opt out of the program. Large cities such as New York, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia can afford the security measures and will still answer letters sent locally that are addressed to Santa. But many small towns,…

A bad day to fly

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News reports are coming in from all over that an FAA computer glitch is snarling airports across the country. This from USA Today’s travel blogger Ben Mutzabaugh: Some of the first reports of cancellations are coming in now, the results of an FAA computer glitch that is affecting flights this morning. The Associated Press reports “AirTran has canceled 22 flights and dozens more flights have been delayed as of 8 a.m. EST. Delta Air Lines also has suffered.” AP adds “Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, has been particularly affected” by the issue. CNN reports the FAA computer…

House committee passes domestic partners bill

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After more than five hours of debate, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-12 on H.R. 2517 Wednesday, which would grant federal benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees. The bill would entitle domestic partners to myriad federal benefits, including medical benefits and long-term care insurance. To receive the benefits, the partner and the federal employee would have to sign an affidavit affirming that they are in a committed, long-term relationship and live together except for financial, work or other reasons. Votes on the bill were split along party lines. Republicans spent several hours offering a series…

RAT board not certifying data it's not supposed to certify

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter on Nov. 13 (pdf) to Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, raising some questions about the stimulus data posted on Recovery.gov. Issa was specifically concerned about the “jobs created/saved” data: The site claims 640,329 jobs have been created or saved, but there’s widespread agreement that figure is wrong.

One year later, no special counsel

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Something I’ve been wondering lately, both because Barack Obama the presidential candidate said a lot of good things about whistleblowers, and because I spent a not-inconsequential part of 2008 reporting on Scott Bloch: Why hasn’t the White House appointed a new special counsel? I know President Barack Obama still has hundreds of positions to fill. But the top job at the Office of Special Counsel would seem to be an important one. The agency hasn’t had political leadership since October 2008, when the Bush administration forced Bloch to resign. OSC employees I’ve talked to generally say the agency needs some…

Government errors could mean big problems for contractors

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Contractors could face suspension, debarment or financial penalties if they fail to return and report an improper payment made by the government…even if the improper payment is the government’s fault. That’s what an executive order meant to curb the government’s rate of erroneous payments will say, Peter Orszag, Office of Management and Budget director, told reporters during a Nov. 17 briefing on the value of improper payments made by the government in 2009. Currently, contractors face no penalties when the government discovers an improper payment was made. All contractors have to do is pay back the sum without interest or…

The NRC dating service?

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It seems like everybody’s got a new idea for attracting new talent to the federal government these days. But Jim McDermott, chief human capital officer of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thinks he’s found a foolproof way to convince young engineers to come to his agency: Find them dates. “There are incentives, and then there are incentives,” McDermott told a crowd of human resources officials at the HCMF Conference in Arlington, Va., earlier today. “When we’re hiring, we say, ‘Is there a significant other in the picture?’ If there’s no significant other, I tell them, ‘We can help.’ ” McDermott said his…

5-day delivery: Depends on your perspective

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Daniel Indiviglio, writing on The Atlantic’s business blog, looks at the Postal Service’s gloomy FY09 financial results and declares 5-day mail delivery a “reasonable idea.” Then he looks a little further ahead — and predicts 5-day could eventually give way to even less frequent delivery: Bottom line: it seems that technology will increasingly take the place of postal service in the years to come. This time around, Saturday service may be eliminated. But give it a few more years, and we might see Monday-Wednesday-Friday service. One day, USPS may be eliminated entirely. Indiviglio casts that as a positive — the…