Monthly Archives: June, 2011

Fire forces Los Alamos National Laboratory to close

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All non-essential personnel have been evacuated from Los Alamos National Laboratory after a wildfire approached the facility Sunday night. The laboratory has remained closed since Monday, according to a spokesman, and will remain closed Thursday. The laboratory has more than 12,000 employees, including contractors and a number of students. At one point Monday there was a small fire inside the 36 square mile laboratory grounds but was extinguished within hours.

Is D.C. takeover a model for the U.S. Postal Service?

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Even before he was officially in a position to do much about it, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., was adamant that the U.S. Postal Service needed to cut costs faster and deeper. After Issa became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this January, the looming question was just how he would push that agenda. The answer: Treat America’s biggest mail carrier like the District of Columbia. Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled Congress set up a “board of control” that essentially stripped the district of home rule with the goal of putting its problematic finances in order.  Now, Issa wants…

DC's Funniest Fed Competition

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Featuring the federal workforce’s finest, DC’s Funniest Fed Competition finals are tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. The best amatuer stand up comics within the federal sector will be cracking jokes for the glory and splendor of being crowned DC’s Funniest Fed. Unfortunately the show is sold out, but good luck to the finalists! Don Heitman (CFTC) Tim Miller (US Army) Abe Barth (HHS) Kate Taylor (US Senate) Jonathan Shepard (USAID) Nate Johnson (SSA) The show isn’t just for “you know what” and giggles, 20 percent of  ticket proceeds will be donated to Fisher House Foundation to help…

Obama reorg plan could be months away

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Atingle with suspense over what President Obama may be contemplating in the way of a government restructuring? Keep atingling. It could be several months before the reorganizer-in-chief decides exactly how to proceed, one of the leaders in that effort said Thursday. “This is hard,” Lisa Brown, co-director of the Government Reform Initiative at the White House budget office, said in an interview. Obama “doesn’t do it lightly. He really is trying to figure out what the right answer is.” Together with Jeffrey Zients, the budget’s office deputy director, Brown was in charge of putting together streamlining recommendations for the president, who…

FBI nabs $74 million cybercrime rings

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Law enforcement agents across a dozen countries joined forces to bring down two international cyber crime rings suspected of causing $74 million in losses to more than 1 million victims, the FBI announced Wednesday. Two individuals from the northern European country Lativa were arrested Tuesday and indicted on charges filed in Minnesota, where the two allegedly created a phony advertising agency. Peteris Sahurovs, 22, and Marina Maslobojeva, 23 claimed they represented a hotel chain that wanted to purchase online advertising space on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s news website, according to details about the indictment in a news release. Dubbed “Operation Trident Tribunal,” the coordinated effort included…

So what about those White House solar panels?

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Last year Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announced with much fanfare at a green government symposium that the White House will have solar panels on it – by the end of spring no less. Well, that day has come and gone. But instead of solar panels, there is just a June 20 statement on the Energy Department’s blog that says the following before highlighting areas of success: The Energy Department remains on the path to complete the White House solar demonstration project, in keeping with our commitment, and we look forward to sharing more information — including additional details on the…

Lawmakers eyeing Hatch Act changes

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Well, this could get interesting. Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is contemplating major changes to the Hatch Act, the law that generally bars federal employees from on-the-job partisan politicking. At a hearing this afternoon, Issa didn’t say what kind of alterations he believes are needed, but labeled the status quo “clear as mud.” In a brief interview afterward, he drew distinctions in how the law affects the president and vice president; Cabinet officers and political appointees; and the career federal workforce. All three layers, Issa said, could need “multiple rounds”…

FEC averts talk about corporate political spend

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While a discussion about corporate disclosure of campaign contributions seems to already have occurred among politicians and transparency groups, the Federal Election Commission deadlocked once again on a vote to re-open public discussion of disclosure rules for political advertisements. These advertisements, called independent expenditures and electioneering communications, are used to support or oppose candidates, or publicize issues with the names or images of candidates. FEC Chair Cynthia Bauerly offered up a “draft notice of proposed rulemaking” at the June 15 commission meeting to re-open public comment on existing rules that require donations to outside groups to be disclosed only when…

The latest on e-gov funding

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The electronic government funding saga continues, even if the e-government fund would no longer exist under a spending bill approved today by a House appropriations subcommittee. As tech-conscious readers might remember, Congress whacked the e-gov account from $34 million in 2010 to $8 million in the year-long continuing resolution enacted this April. Under a fiscal 2012 spending bill approved today by the subcommittee, the fund would be folded into the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services, said Daniel Schuman, policy counsel for the Sunlight Foundation, an open government group that has been birddogging the issue. In all, the combined…

Fiddlin' Foresters axed from federal web domain

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The Fiddlin’ Foresters may live on, but their web site’s apparently defunct. Monday morning, the U.S. Forest Service string band found itself in the unenviable position of being panned by President Obama. Not for its music, but for a web site that Obama held up as an example of a taxpayer-funded Internet presence in urgent need of pruning. “Did you know that the federal government pays for a web site devoted to a folk music ensemble made up of forest rangers?” Obama asked in a video posted on the White House’s own site. The video then features a screen shot of…

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