A hat tip to a site you should know about: The Government Attic

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I wanted to spend a moment today to tip my hat to the Government Attic. It’s essentially a resource for information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that is put up for anyone to look through. It’s been a fantastic source of stories for me and for others I know who follow the site. You might remember this story about Burning Man. It was made possible with the documents stored on the Government Attic site. The intended audience is the public, journalists, researchers and others.  It is entirely self-funded and does not accept any money from anywhere or any…

Attention small businesses, the Coast Guard is looking for some officer swords

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The United States Coast Guard is asking small businesses for bids from small businesses for about 580 swords and accompanying scabbards, according to a solicitation posted on Fed Biz Opps on May 23. The solicitation is only for small businesses who are able to supply officer swords with specialized grips, pommels and blades with the appropriate insignia. Small businesses have until June 3, at 5 p.m. to submit their proposals. Here are some sketches of the scabbards in question. The rest are available here.

Committee passes bill to limit Oil paintings for government officials to $20,000 each

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted May 21 to limit the federal dollars spent on oil paintings of government officials – and restrict who gets to have themselves painted. The aptly named Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would permanently cap the amount of each painting to $20,000 and would limit those eligible to those in line for presidential succession. While the government is currently prohibited from spending money on oil paintings of government officials the ban lasts only through this fiscal year,…

11 things you probably didn't know were in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015

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On May 8, the House Armed Services Committee voted on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 – about 15 minutes after midnight. The committee voted on hundreds of amendments and debated the legislation for more than 12 hours before finally passing it. You have probably heard some of the highlights of whats in the bill, but here is a longer list of stuff that made it in that you might not have heard about. Now remember, the bill still needs to be voted on by the full House and then by the Senate, so there are still changes that…

Tensions high after masked men threaten Bureau of Land Management workers

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Things are getting scary out west for federal workers. On May 6 on Interstate 15 in Utah a pair of masked men in a pickup truck rode up beside a Bureau of Land Management car and, brandishing a gun and holding a note reading “you need to die” before driving off. The license plate was covered with duct tape and law enforcement has yet to locate the vehicle or the suspects. Jeff Krauss, spokesman for BLM, said the agency is looking into the matter with the help of law enforcement. “Threats against BLM employees will not be tolerated.  We are…

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…

When is a wedding plan so awesome the Coast Guard gets involved?

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You know your wedding day will be memorable when it triggers a series of environmental reviews and a proposed rule from the federal government. That is definitely the case for a lucky person named “Ellie,’ whose planned wedding fireworks display on June 27 about 1.5 miles into the Long Island Sound near Greenwich, Conn., had to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Because the fireworks will be launched from a barge in navigable waterways, the Coast Guard had to perform an environmental impact review and formally establish a temporary safety zone. “This temporary rule proposes to establish a safety…

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…

Man at heart of $500 million contracting scandal arrested, charged with murder

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Braulio Castillo first became famous when he was the subject of a House investigation into how he parlayed a 30-year-old prep school ankle injury into getting $500 million in contracts in the form of a special service-disabled veteran status for his company Signet Computers. He suffered the injury while attending the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 1984 but played football the next year at the University of San Diego. In 2012 he filed a claim with the Veterans Affairs office to get the special status as a service-disable veteran. His special status helped get his company Signet Computers (renamed…

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