Browsing: State

Feds fall victim in ID theft scam

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Federal employees were among the hundreds of victims of what prosecutors Thursday described as a large-scale identify theft ring operating in the Washington area. Ten people were charged in the scam to steal personal information, including social security numbers, from dental and insurance offices and other area businesses, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced in a news release Thursday. A copy of the indictment can be viewed here. Prosecutors said more than 600 potential victims have been identified, including employees at the State and Defense departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Once they stole…

Ethics waiver for State Dept. adviser over Boston Globe, New York Times ties

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Glen Johnson, the former online politics editor of the Boston Globe who now serves as senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, required a special waiver so he wouldn’t run afoul of ethics rules by communicating with reporters from his old newspaper and the New York Times. The State Department granted the wavier back in February, but the decision wasn’t added to a public list of such waivers maintained by the Office of Government Ethics until last week. Under ethics rules that aimed to close the revolving door between government and special interests, President Obama has barred political appointees…

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,…

Feds file charges, seek yacht in State contract fraud probe

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Kathleen McGrade was a contract specialist inside the State Department, but prosecutors say she didn’t live like one. Steering tens of millions of dollars in work to a company controlled by her husband, McGrade bought a yacht, penthouse condo and lots of jewelry, according to charges unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Virginia. McGrade, 64, and her husband, Brian C. Collinsworth, 46, both of Fredericksburg, Va., face up to 20 years in prison on charges stemming from what authorities called a “secret scheme” by the couple to steer more than $60 million to a company they controlled. Authorities said…

Foreign Service Officers peeved over new United pet policy

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The union that represents Foreign Service Officers naturally does its best to be diplomatic, but the strain is evident in a standoff with United Airlines over a recently adopted pet transportation policy. The new policy, which follows United’s merger with Continental Airlines, requires most pets to be shipped as cargo, instead of permitting them to travel with their owners as baggage. The fur, at least, has been flying ever since. “Many of our members are greatly distressed by this development because of the sharply increased costs involved,” Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association, wrote in a letter…

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…

State's chief security official to head DHS cyber division

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The State Department’s top security chief is leaving his post to oversee a newly created cybersecurity division at the Department of Homeland Security. John Streufert will replace Nicole Dean as director of DHS’ National Cyber Security Division on Jan. 17, where he will be tasked to build and maintain an “effective cyberspace response system” and implement a program for protecting critical infrastructure, DHS’ Roberta Stempfley said in an email Friday to employees within the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications. Streufert will also work to strengthen DHS’ partnerships with the private sector and international organizations. “Although Nicole is leaving rather large shoes…

Agencies subpoenaed to testify on small business leadership

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House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves today issued subpoenas to four federal agencies seeking answers for why they refuse to put senior leadership in charge of small business contracting activities, a committee spokesman said. The Treasury, State, Justice and Agriculture departments have said they believe they are in compliance with the spirit of  a law that requires agencies to put their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization in direct contact with the agency’s secretary or deputy secretary. Each agency is required to have an Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) under the Small Business Act to ensure contracts…

Counternarcotics contracts lack oversight

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Poor oversight of federal counternarcotics contracts calls to question how billions of tax dollars were spent, a congressional report shows. Neither the State or Defense departments, which award most counternarcotics contracts, have adequate systems to track and evaluate contract data, the June 7 report states. The report was prepared for Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight, after a May 2010 hearing revealed neither the State nor Defense departments could provide information about the contracts awarded for fighting drug production in eight countries south of the U.S. border. “Without adequate oversight and management we are wasting…

Union: passport failure not our fault

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The National Federation of Federal Employees says federal passport specialists are overworked and often don’t have time to thoroughly review passport applications. This burden may be responsible for the State Department’s failure to identify five of seven fraudulent passport applications the Government Accountability Office submitted in a covert operation, the union argued in a press release today. Passport agency workers have to meet productivity quotas and “failing to meet these numbers in the interest of carefully reviewing citizenship documents could lead to termination,” according to the NFFE. Passport specialists were unable to provide input when higher-ups were formulating the quotas,…

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