Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Now in progress: a push to keep (contract) post offices open

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It’s no secret that the U.S. Postal Service is looking at shutting more than 3,200 post offices as part of a major downsizing initiative. Less known is that 20 privately run post offices are also on the chopping block, but in this case because of a labor agreement with the American Postal Workers Union. Under its latest contract with the APWU signed last year, the Postal Service agreed to close 20 “contract postal units” (CPUs) or else insource the work “as soon as practicable.” Those units are in New York, Texas, Florida,Puerto Rico and several other states. Given that there are…

Feds and contractors need to talk more, agencies say

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A handful of agencies are taking steps to improve coordination between program managers, contracting officers and contractors in hopes of delivering less wasteful, more effective IT acquisitions. The Energy Department, for example, is using a series of agency-wide meetings to share ideas on what’s being bought and what contracts are used in certain information technology arenas, such as mobility, open government and geospatial, Pete Tseronis, the department’s chief technology officer, said at the Acquisition Excellence conference Thursday in Washington, D.C. Companies can attend the events and network with the agency’s program managers and contracting officers, Tseronis said. But he has heard…

Report: Postal Service work hours at historic low last year

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For anyone needing yet another marker of the U.S. Postal Service’s condition, here you go: Total work hours last year fell to their lowest point since the mail carrier became an independent federal agency in 1971. That’s according to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s “Annual Compliance Determination” report released this week. For fiscal 2011, total work hours dropped to just under 1.15 billion, the report says. With the exception of rural letter carriers, no craft was spared. Clerks and mail handlers were hardest hit, with their total hours dipping almost 4 percent. The decline shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that…

House Republicans' cyber bill promotes information sharing

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Two Republican congresswomen introduced a cybersecurity bill this week that promotes information sharing and aligns closely with legislation sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., introduced the 2012 Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (SECURE IT), H.R. 4263, on Tuesday. The bill would provide “explicit authorization for the private sector to defend its own networks and voluntarily share cyber threat information within the private sector and with the government – without the legal barriers that currently exists,” acorrding to a news release. Other measures include: – Stiffer…

Senator MacCaskill's grandsons ham it up for the camera.

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Spring Break fever was in the air today on Capitol Hill. Legislators have officially fled Washington D.C. and there will be no hearings until April 16th. But before the final votes ensued, the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight held a hearing where Senators McCaskill, Portman and Tester grilled witnesses from the Army, The Office of Personnel and Management and The Department of Homeland Security over contractor spending. Meanwhile, Chairwoman McCaskill’s grandsons were in attendance. My guess is they are on their own Spring Break. They sat graciously through the hearing; only occasionally trying sneak into my shot. I’m sure they…

CFC spending controversy: What do you think?

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Federal Times would like to hear from you regarding the $1.1 million in controversial expenses made by the Washington-area Combined Federal Campaign. As we first reported last night, the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general criticized a string of expenses made by Global Impact between 2007 and 2009, including: $11,315 for a night out for 600 at a Washington Nationals game; $1,500 to hire Howard University’s jazz band for a conference; $1,159 for a nighttime tour of Washington; $680 for chair massages; and $102,503 for meals over three years. How does this make you feel? Does it shake your confidence…

GOP budget plan would drastically hike FERS contributions

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The Republican Study Committee yesterday proposed steep increases to the amount federal employees would contribute to their pension plans. The committee’s budget plan for next year — called “Cut, Cap and Balance: A Budget for Fiscal Year 2013″ — calls for federal employees to split the cost of their pensions with taxpayers. Federal Employees Retirement System employees now contribute 0.8 percent of each paycheck toward their pensions; the government covers the remaining 11.7 percent. This would mean FERS employees would pay 6.25 percent of each paycheck toward their pension. (Plus another 6.2 percent towards Social Security, of course, and their…

Business group backs White House push for fast-track reorganization authority

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A prominent business group is lining up behind the Obama administration’s bid for fast-track government reorganization authority. “This is a cause that’s ripe for collaboration across the aisle and in both chambers,” Business Roundtable President John Engler wrote in a joint op-ed with Jeff Zients, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Waste and duplication in government are not the fault of Democrats or Republicans alone. Both parties share responsibility for this problem. Now both have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to address it.” Engler, a Republican, is the former governor of Michigan; the…

Postal bill stalls in the Senate

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The Senate took a surprise first vote on postal legislation today. The result: Lawmakers probably won’t be trying again before mid-April. The bill is the 21st Century Postal Reform Act (S.1789); the vote, which came this afternoon, was on a procedural “cloture” motion to see if supporters could muster the 60 votes needed to move forward with debate. As it turned out, they couldn’t. The motion picked up only 51 votes, with most Democrats voting in favor and most Republicans opposed. The Senate hadn’t been expected to take up the bi-partisan bill until tomorrow at the earliest. Why lawmakers proceeded today was the subject…

Agriculture CIO heads to consulting firm Accenture

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Chris Smith will resign from his position as chief information officer at the Agriculture Department next month for an executive role at technology consulting firm Accenture Federal Services, the company announced Tuesday. Smith will begin his new role as the company’s chief technology and innovation officer on April 9, according to Accenture. He will be responsible for developing the technology agenda for Accenture’s federal business and managing the company’s federal service offerings in the areas of cloud computing, big data, logistics and supply chain and cost reduction.   Smith has served as Agriculture’s CIO since 2009. Under his leadership the department migrated…

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