Browsing: Government reform

Is the White House ready to take up classification reform?

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The Public Interest Declassification Board meets publicly tomorrow amid anticipation that the Obama administration may at last take up the panel’s recommendations for modernizing the national security classification system. Those 14 recommendations are now almost a year old; the first was for the White House to name a steering committee to guide implementation of the other 13. “All indications are” that the administration is now going to appoint a committee along those lines,  John Powers, a staff member for the declassification board, said in a phone interview today. A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council could not be reached…

A background checker's checkered past

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Ramon Davila is one name in a growing list. He’s among the nearly two dozen federal background check investigators to face criminal charges in recent years for falsifying his work on investigations performed on contractors and employees seeking government clearances. But more than year after charging Davila, the Justice Department only just learned that he had a troubling past that went unnoticed during his own background investigation. It turns out, officials at another federal law enforcement agency decided nearly a decade ago to keep out of his personnel folder serious misconduct findings against Davila stemming from his years as a…

When contract talks get heated, who's in charge?

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Time and time again, big contractors went over the heads of General Service Administration contracting officers who were trying to negotiate good prices for the government. But when it came time to choose, GSA supervisors sided with the contractors. That’s the conclusion of recent GSA Office of Inspector report that raises troubling questions about the enormous pressure contracting officers can come under from contractors with close ties to managers and even members of Congress. While GSA says it’s got new management and won’t tolerate such interference nowadays, the bigger questions are whether this sort of thing happens elsewhere, not just…

UPDATE: House committee to vote on IT reform bill

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will vote on legislation Wednesday to overhaul how agencies buy and manage information technology. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Act on Monday after months of circulating the draft bill to industry groups for feedback. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., has expressed general support for the bill, which has since undergone revisions to address concerns voiced by industry and others. (Click here to view the revisions) Under Issa’s new plan: – CIOs at 16 major civilian agencies, including Veterans Affairs and Agriculture department, must be presidential appointees or designees and report directly to the head of their agency.…

The federal government–relevant, after all?

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Hurricane Sandy is nowhere near done pummeling the D.C. area tonight, but FedLine can’t help noticing how the storm has already showered attention on the federal government’s role in anticipating and responding to disasters. Last Friday, for example, The New York Times ran a front-page article on how delays in development of the next generation of weather satellites could jeopardize future forecasting. That risk would not have come as news to Federal Times readers, but the mainstream media had previously paid little attention to the issue. Since then, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has had to fend off questions over whether he wants to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And at least one…

Defense official to lead federal spending oversight board

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The President will nominate the Defense Department’s procurement policy director to lead a board that promotes transparency in government spending, the White House announced last week. Richard Ginman, who became director of defense procurement and acquisition policy (DPAP) last June, will be asked to chair the  Government Accountability and Transparency (GAT) Board. The 11-member panel — made up of agency inspectors general, agency chief financial officers and a senior Office of Management and Budget official — is mirrored after a board that oversaw efforts to root out waste, fraud and abuse in stimulus spending. The GAT Board is focused on improving transparency and…

Senator MacCaskill's grandsons ham it up for the camera.

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Spring Break fever was in the air today on Capitol Hill. Legislators have officially fled Washington D.C. and there will be no hearings until April 16th. But before the final votes ensued, the Senate subcommittee on contracting oversight held a hearing where Senators McCaskill, Portman and Tester grilled witnesses from the Army, The Office of Personnel and Management and The Department of Homeland Security over contractor spending. Meanwhile, Chairwoman McCaskill’s grandsons were in attendance. My guess is they are on their own Spring Break. They sat graciously through the hearing; only occasionally trying sneak into my shot. I’m sure they…

Missing from budget request: Agency performance info

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Last February, the Obama administration used its fiscal 2011 budget request to roll out more than 120 “high-priority performance goals” for federal agencies to meet. Twelve months later, how are all those agencies doing? You won’t find out from the White House’s FY12 request. “Significant progress has been made on some priority goals, while weaknesses have been identified and are being addressed in others,” the document says. It then cites a couple of the cheerier examples—such as the Energy Department’s weatherizing 295,000 homes—but with no context and few details. The agency-by-agency list of goals posted on the White House web…

Feds, industry talk cyber, healthcare and procurement

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I’ve heard several remedies in the past few days for curing government’s acquisition woes. The latest: turn the tables and create an industry scorecard for government’s past performance on acquisitions. At least that’s what one fed proposed during the Executive Leadership Council CXO Roundtable event on Tuesday. The candid discussion among nearly 500 feds and industry covered healthcare, cybersecurity and consolidation issues facing government. Here are some of the results from a poll conducted at the event: – 53 percent think the implementation of meaningful use requirements (financial incentives and rewards for meaningful use of certified electronic health records) will…

Bulk of BTA workforce comes from contractors

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Almost two-thirds of the workforce at the Business Transformation Agency, a Pentagon shop slated for the chopping block, is made up of contract employees, according to figures obtained by Federal Times under the Freedom of Information Act. Of 1,124 workers, 725 are contractors, 375 are civilian and 24 are military personnel, the figures show. In announcing his decision to close BTA within the next year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month that the agency employed “approximately 360 people.” Gates was apparently referring only to government civilian employees. Federal Times filed the FOIA request after repeated attempts to obtain the…

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