Monthly Archives: March, 2010

GSA doubles federal hybrid vehicle fleet

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The  General Services Administration is replacing more than 5,600 of its least fuel-efficient cars and trucks with hybrids, the agency announced today. The move effectively doubles the federal government’s inventory of hybrid vehicles, which pair an electric motor with a traditional gasoline-powered engine. The new hybrids will be leased to agencies that are replacing vehicles this year. The Energy Department already said it will take 753 of the 5,603 new vehicles, bringing the total number of hybrid vehicles in the department to 888. The purchases announced today are in addition to the 3,100 hybrid vehicles agencies received last year as…

Census and breakfast chili…mmm…

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The Census Bureau is pulling out all the stops to get people to return their Census forms this year. So far, the agency has bought Super Bowl ads, had Commerce Secretary Gary Locke talk it up on the Daily Show, and even gotten Dora the Explorer in on the act. But none of their outreach efforts have been quite as tasty as the event Census Director Robert Groves has planned for tomorrow morning. Groves will appear at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. to answer citizens’ questions about the 2010 Census and encourage people to mail…

Cherry blossom time for OPM employees

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Office of Personnel Management employees in Washington will get a treat later this week: an hour off to view the cherry blossoms and squeeze in a little exercise. OPM Director John Berry issued a memo March 26 to the nearly 1,500 employees at the agency’s Washington headquarters granting them an hour off from April 1 to 4 to walk down to the Tidal Basin and see the blossoms. Those four days will be the blossoms’ peak blooming days. Berry has made promoting wellness initiatives and encouraging federal employees to be healthier a major part of his agenda. This excused absence…

Health care reform: What do you think?

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Federal Times would like to hear from federal employees who might be affected by the health care reform bill passed last week. Do you have an adult child who can get health coverage as a result of the bill? Are you concerned about the excise tax or how it might affect your premiums? Are you worried that putting the Office of Personnel Management in charge of insurance exchanges could take its attention away from its traditional missions? Send us an e-mail at slosey@federaltimes.com.

Pay stubs going electronic for 640K employees

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For about 640,000 federal employees at agencies like the Homeland Security and Treasury departments, the paper pay stub will soon be a thing of the past. White House budget director Peter Orszag yesterday announced that the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center is going to stop issuing paper pay stubs as part of an effort to save about $4 million in printing and mailing costs per year. Until now, employees have had to opt out of receiving paper stubs, but only about 192,000 people chose to do so. Under the new plan, all employees will receive electronic pay statements by default…

WH talks government modernization

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The White House held a modernizing government forum earlier this year, inviting more than 50 private-sector chief executive officers to share best business practices with government officials. The White House recently released a report of its findings from the forum — to view the full report, click here. The results reported aren’t too surprising. The best practices shared by the CEOs were pretty clear — be more transparent, plan your IT projects better, and don’t let IT projects drag on for five years. Do things quickly and implement IT projects in stages to test whether they’ll work, the CEOs said.…

AP: Harding drops out of running for TSA administrator

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Associated Press reporter Eileen Sullivan just broke the news that Robert Harding, President Obama’s second nominee to run the Transportation Security Administration, withdrew his nomination this evening. Sullivan reported that Harding said he withdrew because his previous work as a defense contractor had become “distractions” to the administration and the Homeland Security Department.

GSA picks spot for new S.C. courthouse

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The General Services Administration will begin design work this fall on a new federal courthouse in Greenville, S.C. After more than a year of deliberations, GSA picked a vacant lot across from the Greenville County Courthouse for the new facility, city officials announced Wednesday. The 204,000-square-foot facility will be more than three times the size of the current courthouse, which was built in 1937. The new courthouse was estimated to cost $135 million in 2007, according to local news website Journalwatchdog.com. Construction won’t begin until at least 2013, but Congress has already given the facility its new name. Lawmakers voted in…

Sitcom stars reunite for SSA

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The Social Security Administration is turning to pop culture icons to educate Americans about its offerings. First they used Chubby Checker to promote a “twist” in its Medicare prescription plan costs. Now it’s using Patty Duke and the cast of her 1960s television show, “The Patty Duke Show,” to get the word out about its new online application for Medicare benefits. To view one of the ads, click here. Of course, this could risk making some beneficiaries feel really old — not only are you old enough for Social Security, but the icons of your youth are being used to…

House passes restrictions on P2P use

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The House passed a bill Wednesday banning the installation and use of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software on all federal computers, systems and networks. Peer-to-peer programs such as BitTorrent, Lime Wire and KazaA pose security risks for the federal government. Rep. Edophus Towns, D-N.Y., introduced HR 4098 after several publicized information breaches involving peer-to-peer programs last year. In one case, confidential House Ethics Committee investigation documents were posted online after a staffer loaded the documents onto her personal computer which had peer-to-peer sharing software installed. Towns praised the House’s 408-13 vote in a statement. While I understand that peer-to-peer file…

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