Author Gregg Carlstrom

5-day delivery: The Web site

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The Postal Service launched a new Web site today to sell its vision for 5-day mail delivery (which lawmakers may be slowly warming to). Many of you probably know the highlights already: USPS thinks 5-day will save $3 billion per year, post offices and other facilities will remain open on Saturdays, etc. One thing that’s not posted yet, which I know is of great interest to the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Government Accountability Office, and other analysts: An official estimate of how much mail volume will suffer from switching to 5-day. As I said on Monday, I’m skeptical of the…

Harding on collective bargaining: Noncommittal

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Not much news out of this morning’s confirmation hearing for Gen. Robert Harding, President Obama’s second nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, asked him whether he’d commit to pursuing collective bargaining rights for TSA employees. Harding said he hadn’t reached a decision, and said he would talk with “TSA employees and stakeholders” before deciding whether to press the issue. Obama’s first nominee, Erroll Southers, took a similar stance during his confirmation hearing in November, saying only that he would study the issue. But that noncommittal stance was enough to earn him a hold from…

Alternatives to the Postal Service, like…?

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If you haven’t seen it yet: We reported on Friday that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., proposed allowing the Postal Service to “pilot” 5-day mail delivery in a few areas around the country. Polls usually indicate that the public is okay with 5-day delivery; Durbin wants to see if those poll numbers hold up when the idea becomes a reality. One other item I wanted to highlight from that hearing (at which John Potter, the Postmaster General, was one of the witnesses). Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said several times that she’s worried 5-day delivery will reduce mail volume. At one point, she…

Cass Sunstein on the limits of open government

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Cass Sunstein, the Obama administration’s “regulatory czar,” gave a speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon. Regular readers are probably familiar with most of its content — the open government directive, OMB’s dashboards for transparency and  IT projects. But Sunstein made a couple of interesting points on the limits of open government initiatives.

Federal furloughs

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(Updated below) After years of a stagnant economy, furloughs are nothing new to private-sector workers — including newspaper reporters! — and even many state and local employees. But now they’re affecting the federal government. It’s not because of the economy, though. The Senate needed to pass legislation last week to extend federal highway and transit programs — and the legislation was blocked by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., who said he objected to the bill because it wasn’t deficit-neutral. The legislation stalled. The result? The Transportation Department has to furlough nearly 2,000 employees, starting today, and ending… whenever the bill gets…

How many contractors does DHS actually have? ctd.

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We’ve explored this question before on the blog: At a December Senate hearing, Elaine Duke, the department’s undersecretary for management, admitted DHS doesn’t really know how many contractors it has. The question came up again this week: In a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, DHS secretary Janet Napolitano said the department had roughly 200,000 contractors — more than the 188,000 civilian employees who work for the department. That number prompted an outraged reaction from senators on the committee; as I mentioned in my story yesterday, they questioned whether contractors or federal employees are “actually making…

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