Author Rebecca Neal

The Veterans Affairs Department and U.S. Postal Service are testing a program to allow veterans to mail back expired and unused prescription drugs for safe disposal. Veterans will receive special postage-paid envelopes and instructions with their prescriptions. Veterans with leftover medication can use the envelopes to mail back the drugs at any mailbox or post office. The drugs will be delivered to disposal sites approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and Drug Enforcement Agency and disposed of through incineration, chemical or thermal processes. The agencies announced the program in an April 8 news release. The pilot program will start with…

Agency budgets will stay flat for the next few years as the government faces an $11 trillion deficit, presenting fewer opportunities for vendors to do business with agencies. Vendors can separate themselves from the competition by identifying how they can save agencies money, said budget expert Stan Collender at INPUT’s Federal Market View 2010 conference today in Falls Church, Va. Vendors and contractors who know how to sell themselves to agencies can carve out a piece of the narrowing contracting pie, he sad. You should expect extreme scrutiny on the programs you care about. There’s almost no way around it…

The Health and Human Services Department will rely on the expertise of current federal employees to implement hundreds of changes mandated in the recently-signed health care law, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said April 6. “We’re not starting with the assumption that we have to build a new bureaucracy … One of the ways we’ll save money is by depending heavily on people and systems that are already in place.  Our department already has great talent, resources, and knowledge of the health care system,” she said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C Sebelius’ speech was billed as a look…

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.…

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…

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…

Martha Johnson, administrator for the General Services Administration, spoke with reporters this afternoon at FOSE. She’s only been in the job for about two months and is learning where the agency should go. GSA is at a “crossroads,” she said, and can either stay the same or fight to grow. She thinks it should grow and improve communications and responsiveness with the needs of both agencies and companies who contract with GSA. What’s in our hands and what I’ve got some real sense of is the whole notion of upping our performance, simply cleaning up and performing better for our…

The Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee voted today to send a key cybersecurity bill to the Senate floor. The bill, S 773,would require the executive branch to work with the private sector to create cybersecurity standards and mandate audits to ensure compliance with those new standards. An earlier version of the bill would have granted the president authority to shut down the Internet in the case of a major cyber attack, but this new bill doesn’t include that authority. Instead, the government and the private sector would work together to address handling a major cybersecurity attack. Sens. Jay Rockefeller,…

Placing too many security restrictions on mobile devices can deter employees from teleworking and fully using laptops and Blackberries, said federal cybersecurity officials today. David Stender, assistant chief information officer for cybersecurity at the Internal Revenue Service, told FOSE convention attendees that restrictions can help protect your data but keep you from getting your money’s worth from mobile devices. IRS uses a series of protections, including HSPD-12 cards, to allow users to authenticate themselves and access the IRS’ network, but those protections come with a price, he said. They do decrease battery life, which is frustrating for officers and investigators…

It’s no April Fool’s Joke — Homeland Security Department’s undersecretary for management, Elaine Duke, will celebrate her last day at the agency April 1. Duke told the Federal Times that she has plenty of hobbies and interests to explore after devoting much of the past decade to DHS. She has served as undersecretary of management since August 2008 and has worked for the federal government for 28 years, much of it in contracting. I started with TSA in 2002, and work has really driven my time and energy. I’m looking forward to doing some discretionary things now.” Duke said she…

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