Browsing: Office of Management and Budget

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…

OMB keeps its distance

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Whether the event is a dinner party or a rock concert, everyone knows that seating arrangements can be a touchy subject. But at a congressional witness table? That, though, was a not insignificant issue at a House oversight subcommittee hearing Friday. The session, dedicated to open government efforts, featured two panels. The first was made up of transparency advocates and federal departmental officials; the second featured just one person, Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel. The reason–as an agency spokeswoman later confirmed–is that OMB will not allow its staff to testify alongside people from outside the government. While…

Shutdown planning, then and now

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With much of the government at risk of a forced vacation next month, there are some obvious parallels with the last such showdown, which resulted in back-to-back closures in late 1995 and early 1996. A bitter battle over spending; a Democratic president pitted against Republican lawmakers, many of them freshmen itching to shrink the federal footprint. The last time around, though, executive branch preparations appear to have started a lot sooner. Consider some evidence gleaned from congressional testimony: On August 22, 1995—almost three full months before the first shutdown occurred that November–then-Office of Management and Budget Director Alice Rivlin told all department…

Obama threatens veto of GOP spending bill

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This probably comes as no shock, but President Obama is threatening to veto a Republican-backed bill that would slash a net total of $61 billion in agency discretionary spending for this fiscal year. Although the administration is committed to cutting spending, it “does not support deep cuts that will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement this afternoon. The administration also charges that the GOP legislation—which was introduced last Friday and is now being debated on the House floor–would reduce Defense Department…

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…

White House coy Sunday in response to GOP budget cut plan

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The Obama administration responded Sunday to House Republicans’ plan for slashing more than $60 billion in federal  discretionary spending during the remainder of this fiscal year. Sort of. “We look forward to working with Congress,” Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said on CNN’s “State of the Union” talk show. That was all that host Candy Crowley could get out of Lew, despite prodding him several times for a substantive answer. In the bill released Friday night, the House GOP proposed whacking hundreds of agencies and programs to the tune of $69 billion in comparison to last year’s…

White House previews more cuts in FY12 budget request

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The White House Office of Management and Budget is usually tight-lipped with details about forthcoming money matters—except when it elects not to be. In a New York Times op-ed piece Sunday, OMB Director Jack Lew dropped a couple of tidbits from the Obama administration’s fiscal 2012 budget request due out next week. As the White House had already revealed, it wants to cut the Community Service Block Grant program in half, but Lew attached a number–$350 million—to the amount of that proposed reduction. Cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program are also in the cards,  he said, and the…

Fed rights at risk in WikiLeaks backlash, groups say

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Just as agencies are wrapping up security reviews launched after the latest WikiLeaks breach, a coalition of open government groups is warning of possible consequences for federal employee rights. Although improving safeguards for classified information is laudable, “we urge you not to craft policies that encourage agencies to unduly restrict free speech, or otherwise distract agencies from actually improving information security,” representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and eight other organizations wrote Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew in a letter dated Friday. Ordered by Lew early this month and due to be finished Jan. 28, the…

Spending stalemate hobbles evaluation initiative

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Back in July, the Office of Management and Budget announced that roughly $100 million had been allocated to 35 program evaluations and “evaluation capacity-building proposals” across the government. But allocated isn’t the same thing as appropriated. It turns out that agencies have yet to see a dime because Congress has yet to pass a fiscal 2011 budget. Instead, agencies are operating off a continuing resolution out that generally keeps spending frozen at 2010 levels. “We are very committed to evaluating what works and what doesn’t to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively, but these evaluations have not been funded yet…

Obama chooses new OMB deputy chief

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President Obama has settled on policy veteran Heather Higginbottom as the new deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Higginbottom, a former aide to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who also was policy director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, currently serves as deputy director at the White House Domestic Policy Council. “She understands the relationship between numbers on a ledger and the lives of real people,” Obama said when announcing her nomination for the OMB slot Friday, along with several other appointments.  “As we make cuts that are necessary to rein in the deficit, I want to make sure I’ve got Heather…