Monthly Archives: January, 2012

OMB asks Congress to cut contractor compensation … again

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The Office of Management and Budget wants Congress to reconsider a proposal to reduce how much contractors can charge the government for their executives’ compensation, an amount that is currently “unjustified and unnecessary,” the federal procurement chief said in a blog post this morning. Under federal cost reimbursement contracts, agencies pay contractors for incurred costs, including salaries for executives and other employees. These costs usually show up in the overhead rates that contractors set. OMB caps how much contractors can charge the government for executive compensation based on what top private sector executives earn. Contractors can currently ask the government to reimburse up to $693,951 for each of its top…

IRS decision costs the Postal Service millions

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Seldom does one federal agency save money at another’s expense.  But that’s how it’s looking more than a year after the Internal Revenue Service opted to stop delivering millions of income tax forms by mail. The IRS announced the  decision in September 2010 as part of a push to economize on its annual printing and postage budget.  As of this past August, the savings on postage costs just from not mailing Form 1040 packages amounted to about $4.1 million, according to a  recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. That was money lost to the U.S. Postal…

Federal chief technology officer to step down

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The nation’s first federal chief technology officer is leaving his post, the White House announced Friday. “As the federal government’s first Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra did groundbreaking work to bring our government into the 21st century,” President Obama said in a statement. “Aneesh found countless ways to engage the American people using technology, from electronic health records for veterans, to expanding access to broadband for rural communities, to modernizing government records.” Chopra is considering running for lieutenant governor of Virginia, and he has been in conversations with influential political figures and donors, said a democratic official familiar with the situation, who…

More opposition to adding U.S. Trade Representative to new department

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The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is a relatively small operation, with just 220 or so employees, according to the most recent statistics. But it’s looming very large in the debate over President Obama’s proposed consolidation of agencies dealing with business and trade policy. Key lawmakers objected almost as soon as Obama announced Jan. 13 that he wanted the Trade Representative’s office in that new department. Now, dozens of business groups are also voicing “immediate concerns” about eliminating USTR as a stand-alone agency in the Executive Office of the President.  In a joint letter this week to Obama, they said the…

Postal Regulatory Commission unveils new rules for handling post office closing appeals

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Closing post offices isn’t popular and the Postal Regulatory Commission has the workload to prove it. From July to the present, the number of pending appeals awaiting PRC action skyrocketed from 14 to 113. Small wonder, then, that the commission is reworking what Chairman Ruth Goldway calls a 35-year-old system. Under newly unveiled rules, postal customers can submit petitions and supporting documentation in “plain language,” Goldway said in a news release today. Among other changes, the new procedures will ease requirements for petitioners who file appeals, but don’t use the Internet; allow people to file comments without formally intervening; and…

Fed issues warrant little attention in State of the Union speech (phew!)

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Perhaps to their relief, federal employees didn’t hear much that would directly affect them in tonight’s State of the Union speech. Last year, after all, President Obama used the prime-time address to call for a government reorganization and a five-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending, besides reminding Congress that he had already imposed a two-year freeze on base federal salaries. This year? Hardly a mention of overarching management and budget initiatives.  The closest that Obama came was almost an hour into the speech when he brought up his recent bid to get “fast-track” authority from Congress to restructure and consolidate federal…

Staffer: Sen. Rand Paul detained by TSA in Nashville

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The communications director for Sen. Rand Paul, R-K.Y., said on Twitter that the Senator was detained by TSA while at the airport in Nashville. According to Fox News: Moira Bagley, the senator’s spokeswoman, told Fox News that Paul called her after he went through a “full body screener,” described to her as a body-imaging machine, and was stopped for an anomaly around his leg. The senator lifted his pants leg to show nothing was there and offered to go back through the machine, but the TSA official said no, only a full-body pat down would suffice. Will update as more…

Postal Service's FOIA position termed "bizarre."

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Between crumbling finances, tense relations with Congress, and three major labor contracts still to hammer out, you might think the U.S. Postal Service has better things to do than pick an open records fight with another government agency. Not according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. In a federal lawsuit filed this month, the commission charges the Postal Service with  “improperly” claiming exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act to withhold information needed to show that a former elected official broke the law. To underscore its displeasure, the commission also put out a a news release in which Chairwoman Ann Ravel…

U.S. Postal Service labor negotiations collapse

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This probably comes as a surprise to just about no one, but an impasse was officially declared today in contract talks between the U.S. Postal Service and two unions: the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.  The next step will presumably be mediation or binding arbitration. The impasse comes two months after prior contracts with both unions officially expired Nov. 20. All sides kept talking after that through two extensions,  but could not agree on another extension to keep negotiations alive past today.  The parties “currently are discussing how they will proceed,” USPS spokesman…

N.Y. caps contractor executive compensation

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Taking an idea from the White House, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Wednesday limiting how much contractors can charge the state for executive compensation. The order limits the maximum contractors can charge New York state agencies for their executive’s’ compensation to Level I of the federal government’s executive pay schedule, about $200,000. “In certain instances providers of services that receive state funds or state-authorized payments have used such funds to pay for excessive administrative costs and outsized compensation for their senior executives, rather than devoting a greater proportion of such funds to providing direct care or services…

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