Browsing: Interior

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: Interior IG finds Leslie Knope abused authority

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SPOILER ALERT: The NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation ended its sixth season last night with the endlessly-optimistic public servant Leslie Knope becoming a federal employee by accepting a job as the National Park Service’s Midwest Regional Director, and then talking her new boss into relocating the office to her hometown of Pawnee, Indiana. Which is great news for the show’s viewers, but raises troubling questions about multiple violations of civil service rules. FedLine has exclusively obtained a copy of the Interior Department’s inspector general report into Regional Director Knope’s activities: To: Jonathan Jarvis, director, National Park Service From: Mary Kendall,…

Not with a bang but with a high-pitched whimper. The slow death of the federal helium program

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On Oct. 1, 2013 the federal government became the victim of a gridlocked Congress and began to shut down. Hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed without notice while many more kept working – unsure of when they would be paid. Just one day later the 50 or so employees at the Bureau of Land Management’s Cliffside Gas Field – the last remaining federal helium plant – breathed a sigh of relief. The facility had only been allowed to operate until Oct. 7, but Congress had managed to finalize legislation that would keep the facility open for more than six…

How many people get arrested at Burning Man? The answer will surprise you.

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Every year at the end of August nearly 70,000 people descend on Black Rock Desert in Pershing County, Nevada to take part in the celebration of radical self expression known as Burning Man. And for many people it’s synonymous with drug use and burning a giant wooden man in the middle of the desert. But according to the Bureau of Land Management — which has jurisdiction over government land and the Burning Man festival grounds in particular — the number of people cited or arrested is quite low for its size and duration. In 2013 only 6 people out of…

Many feds get shutdown-related back pay ahead of schedule

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Thousands of federal workers got a welcome arrival in their bank accounts today: An ahead-of-schedule deposit for back pay owed from the partial government shutdown. While the Obama administration had said that the money would show up in employees’ next paychecks after the shutdown ended last week, the Interior’s Department’s Business Center scheduled an “off-cycle” payment today for most Interior employees, along with many of those at NASA, the National Science Foundation and 39 other agencies who also get their paychecks through the center, spokesman Mike Fernandez said in an email. The payments came one week ahead of the next normal…

Glitch means no paychecks today for thousands of feds

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For 40,000 federal employees, this has not been a happy Friday. The reason: They didn’t get paid. Because of problems at the Interior Business Center (IBC), which handles payroll processing for numerous agencies outside of the Interior Department, paychecks that were supposed to be direct-deposited today didn’t go through, spokesman Michael Fernandez said in a statement later posted on the center’s website. Paychecks will now be deposited Tuesday, he said. The affected employees work in 23 of the 42 agencies served by the business center. They represent about 17 percent of the 240,000 workers paid through the IBC, according to the statement.…

Association of Government Accountants honors agency reporting

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Twenty agencies big and small were recently noted for top-notch financial and performance reporting by the Association of Government Accountants. The “Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting” (CEAR)  singles out “high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) and Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) that effectively illustrate and assess financial and program performance, accomplishments and challenges, cost and accountability,” the accountants association said in a news release. The association also spotlights the teams of dedicated federal professionals who (often unsung) put the reports together. “Given the fiscal status of the United States government and the public’s perceptions about government fiscal accountability and transparency,…

Hoyer: John Berry in the running for Interior

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Since Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Jan. 16 that he plans to step down at the end of March, federal government watchers have speculated that Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry may be in the running to replace him. When I asked Berry that day about the job, he wouldn’t even say whether he had talked to President Obama. “No comment,” Berry said. “At this point, I stand ready to serve the President in any capacity he desires.” But his old friend and former boss, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, is far less reticent about Berry’s possible…

John Berry: 'No comment' on Interior secretary post

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to step down at the end of March opens up one more Cabinet position in the second Obama administration — and may present an opportunity for Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry. While Berry is most known these days for his focus on federal hiring, pensions and other personnel matters, nature issues are especially close to his heart. He was director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park before Obama tapped him to run OPM, and prior to that, served as executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He also served as…

Interior awards $35 million contract for Google cloud email

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The Interior Department expects to migrate 92,000 employees to a single cloud-based email system by December, according to a senior agency official. Interior awarded a $35 million contract for cloud email and collaboration tools to Ohio-based Onix Networking Corp, according to an announcement on fbo.gov. The Google Apps for Government solution will also provide employees with instant messaging, desktop video conferencing, web-based collaboration systems and email on their mobile devices. “That is one of our first big enterprise services that we hope we can ramp up quickly,” Andrew Jackson, deputy assistant secretary for technology, information and business services, said in…

Watchdog group: Four IG offices now leaderless for years

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Hard to believe, but the State Department’s Office of Inspector General has been without a permanent head for more than four years. That fact, highlighted this week by the Project on Government Oversight, puts the office in an unlucky class of four IG agencies that have had vacancies at the top for at least 1,000 days. The others are the Interior and Labor departments and the Corporation for National and Community Service. While the Obama administration last fall nominated attorney Deborah Jeffrey for the inspector general’s job at the national service corporation, the Senate has yet to confirm her. But the…

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