Browsing: 2011 Budget

Golf lands another fed in the rough

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The linguistic origins of the word “golf” are lost to time. But for 21st century feds, the game often just means trouble. The latest evidence: Stephen Calvery, head of the Defense Force Protection Agency, gets an unfavorable write-up by the Defense Department’s inspector general for giving employees administrative leave to participate in the agency’s 2009 and 2010 golf tournaments. Under the rules, such leave is allowable only if it benefits the agency’s mission, furthers a particular DoD function or has “a government-wide recognized and sanctioned purpose,” according to a redacted copy of the report posted today on the IG’s website.…

Report: Secrecy spending jumped by more than $1 billion last year

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You can argue about the effectiveness of the United States’ national security classification program, but there’s no disputing one point: Keeping secrets costs money—lots of it. Last year, executive branch agencies shelled out an estimated $11.4 billion on classified information systems and other facets of the program, according to an annual report released this week by the Information Security Oversight Office, a branch of the National Archives and Records Administration. That’s up 12 percent–or $1.2 billion–from 2010, and more than double the figure from a decade ago. The actual tab to taxpayers is likely much higher, because the report doesn’t…

White House touting reduction in improper payments

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There’s some apparent good news coming from the White House this afternoon on the improper payment front, according to a news advisory. At 2:30 p.m., Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and three other top administration figures are holding a conference call “to discuss the administration’s progress cutting wasteful improper payments by nearly $18 billion’’ the advisory says. FedLine had asked about this last week and was told the data was being finalized. Presumably these are figures for fiscal 2011 versus fiscal 2010. Not clear is whether the nearly $18 billion figure is a cut in absolute terms…

GAO: Federal IT budget far more than $79 billion

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A review of federal information technology investments found that agencies spend far more than the $79 billion reported on the government’s web-based IT tracking system, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. The IT Dashboard only provides investment data for 26 agencies, the report noted. The website does not include spending data for 61 other agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Intelligence Agency and legislative and judicial branch agencies. OMB encourages small agencies to use the IT Dashboard, but they choose not to, according to the GAO report released Wednesday. While administration officials often quote…

Postal Service's 2011 losses narrow (but only because of a gimmick)

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If only on paper, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial condition has just shown some stunning improvement. That’s because Congress pushed back a $5.5 billion retiree health care payment originally due last Friday (i.e., Sept. 30) until Nov. 18, according to short-term spending legislation approved in the last week. Sept. 30 was the final day of fiscal 2011, for which the Postal Service had been predicting a total loss of about $10 billion, in part because of that legally required retiree health care obligation.  With that payment now delayed until November, the expected 2011 deficit plummets to $4.5 billion. Of course, the…

New Postal Service ads cite old-fashioned benefits

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Say this for snail mail: it’s never been victimized by a computer hacker. That, in essence, is the point of a new U.S. Postal Service television advertising campaign that seeks to make a virtue of the mail’s retro qualities. “This is how people and business connect,” runs the voiceover in one ad as the video shows a jaunty letter carrier on her rounds. “Feeling safe and secure that important letters and information don’t get lost in thin air or disappear with a click, but are delivered from person to person.” Take that, Internet. The two commercials, aimed at boosting businesses’ use of the…

Budget realities sinking in

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Two small signs this month of how feds are adjusting to the prospect of tight money. One comes from the pages of the Federal Register, where last week, the National Agricultural Statistics Service announced that it is both suspending its July sheep and goat survey and indefinitely postponing its Census of Aquaculture and a separate land ownership survey “due to budgetary cutbacks.” The notice doesn’t say how much money is involved; NASS officials could not be reached for comment Friday.  The other is a nugget from an Association of Government Accountants report this month on technology trends. What’s driving tech adoption nowdays? The potential to save…

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…

Shutdown plans now available

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Remember the contingency plans that agencies have to prepare for the event of a government shutdown? Those documents have never been more accessible–now that the immediate threat of a halt to agency operations has passed. Under a “What’s New” section of its web site dated April 14, the Office of Management and Budget has posted links to more than 50 agency plans. Had the government closed, for example, more than three-quarters of employees in the Executive Office of the President would have been furloughed. At least for now, the prospect of a shutdown has receded since Congress last week approved…

OMB posts shutdown guidance

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More evidence–as if more were needed–that this government spending standoff is getting serious: the Office of Management and Budget has just posted a 16-page memo for shutdown planning on its web site. Lots of technical advice for agencies on topics like travel, IT operations and contracting. The latest stopgap spending resolution expires at midnight Friday. If Congress appears unlikely to enact a new one Saturday, OMB will issue instructions the same day “for agencies to proceed with their shutdown implementation,” Director Jack Lew wrote in the memo. On one burning question, OMB leaves it up to agencies to decide whether…

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