Is Ben Nelson this Confused on Other Policy Issues?

'Can you tell me where I'm going?'

Connor Kenny, an editor at OpenCongress, put a great piece up on the Huffington Post yesterday. It was an analysis of the nonprofit's recent scorecard on how each senator has voted on extending unemployment benefits over the past two years. Along with discovering "a few head scratchers," the report finds "at least one irrefutable truth": "[Sen.] Ben Nelson [D-NE] has a whacked-out definition of 'fiscal responsibility.'"

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FAPIIS Coming Soon to a Computer near You

Old Computer

When President Obama signed this year's supplemental appropriations bill, he delivered a big win for the good government community, as a little known transparency amendment attached to the bill became law. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), will require the General Services Administration (GSA) to make most of the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) publically available.

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'Independent' Defense Review Panel Suggests Congress Shower the Industry with Money

Greed

Last week, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Independent Panel, a four-year old body created by Congress to provide an "alternate view" of the Pentagon's periodic internal assessment, released its report on the 2010 QDR. Simply put, the panel, whose membership includes a majority of individuals in the defense contracting industry, said, "Yes, please" in response to the government's question about how to allocate its limited resources.

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SIGIR: Pentagon Flushed Iraqi Funds down Toilet with Alarming Efficiency

Will this make the Iraqi people like us more or less?

On Tuesday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released a devastating report on the Department of Defense's (DOD) control of Iraqi reconstruction funds. SIGIR reviewed the Pentagon's control of the funds from 2004 to 2007 and found that DOD could not account for 96 percent of the $9.1 billion it received during that time.

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Administration Unveils Accountable Government Initiative

President Barack Obama

Last week, in remarks before a signing ceremony for the recently passed Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, President Obama highlighted the measure as the latest in a series of accomplishments his administration has made toward their goal of fundamentally changing the way Washington works. The White House has strung those accomplishments together – along with their other open government and anti-fraud, -waste, and -abuse programs – to create the Accountable Government Initiative.

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Outsourcing National Security

He Hears All

If you haven't been reading the Washington Post's new series "Top Secret America" on the state of the intelligence community since 9/11, I highly recommend checking it out. William Arkin, one of the authors of the series, gave an interview this morning on "Washington Journal," C-SPAN's morning call-in program. Discussing today's piece on the extensive use of contractors in intelligence work, Arkin found placing "the functions of a third of our government in the hands of private companies" to be a "fundamental issue" that the public must grapple with.

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Why Must Congress Pay for Extending UI Benefits but Not Tax Cuts?

Dollars and Sense

Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, the Senate should finally pass an extension of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to more than 2.5 million unemployed workers who have gone without a check for over six weeks. Central to this delay were Republican and a moderate Democrat's demands that Congress pay for the emergency extension. Many of those same members of Congress, however, change their tune when it comes to extending the Bush Tax Cuts.

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'High Road' Contracting: Unprincipled Contractors Need Not Apply

For all those principled contractors out there

Last week in the Los Angeles Times, Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley wrote a compelling op-ed on why President Obama should end the delay and sign an executive order enforcing a new "high road" contracting policy for the federal government. While it's not likely to have the same instant stimulative effects of the Recovery Act, a "high road" contracting policy could, as Edley argues, "do more for the economy than [a] second stimulus measure."

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Quigley Introduces Contracting Reform Bill in House, Action Needed

The U.S. Capitol

Yesterday, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced in the House companion legislation to Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) recent contracting reform bill. As companion legislation, the House version of the "Federal Contracting Oversight and Reform Act of 2010" is a mirror image of the Feingold bill. The measure has several strong provisions, and, "if enacted, will lay the foundation for future [contracting] reforms." More members of Congress need to support this legislation.

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Fiscal Commission Suffering from a Raging Case of the Stupid

A dunce cap is still culturally relevant when referencing idiocy, right?

Over the weekend, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairmen of the president's debt and deficit commission, spoke to the National Governors Association in Boston. During their speech, Simpson and Bowles hinted at the recommendations their group will make to Congress later this year. Despite pleas to the contrary – including during its recent public hearing – the commission seems bent on a package composed mostly of spending and entitlement cuts.

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