Studies Show Regulation Protects Health and Safety, Encourages Job Creation

Three recently published studies discuss the relationship between regulations and economic development. One study focuses on the job-creation potential of an individual environmental rule, and another touts the economic benefits of clean energy investments. The third study debunks a widely quoted but inaccurate report on the economic costs of regulations. All three reinforce an argument that public interest advocates have made for decades: government standards and public investments in clean energy protect health and safety and encourage job creation.

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House Questions Future of Government Printing Office

On July 22, the House passed an appropriations bill that makes deep cuts and policy changes to the Government Printing Office (GPO), an agency that plays an important role in current information dissemination for all three branches of the federal government. The bill raises troubling questions about Congress's understanding of and commitment to GPO’s primary responsibility for making public documents available to the American people.

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Army Report Highlights Need for More Contracting Officers

A recently released review of the U.S. Army's acquisition process reveals that the service must invest in more acquisition personnel and better training to help address failed weapons programs and their associated costs. Arresting staggering cost increases is an important objective for the Army, but Congress's current obsession with deficit reduction may become the greatest impediment to saving taxpayer dollars.

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Campaign to Cut Waste Uses Recovery Tools to Improve Performance, but Challenges Remain

On June 13, President Obama signed an executive order (E.O.) initiating the "Campaign to Cut Waste." The E.O., titled "Delivering an Efficient, Effective, and Accountable Government," builds on many of the administration’s previous reforms while borrowing some of the better tools developed to execute and oversee the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act). However, its impact may be reduced due to recent budget cuts to a key government transparency fund.

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Proposed Congressional Changes to the Regulatory Process Unnecessary

On June 23, several senators outlined proposals for revamping the regulatory system, a system they blame for the nation's economic problems despite evidence to the contrary. Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), told the senators that the proposals were largely unnecessary and could have harmful unintended consequences.

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Administration to Revamp Federal Web Strategy

The Obama administration announced on June 13 a plan to retool its approach to federal websites, with an emphasis on consolidating or eliminating sites. Although the plan has the potential to increase transparency, open government advocates are concerned that important information could end up on the chopping block.

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House Subcommittee Moves to Slightly Increase Funding for Transparency Projects, but More Resources Needed

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2011—The House Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee today approved its fiscal year 2012 spending bill. The legislation would slightly increase funding for critical government transparency projects, but the full ramifications of the subcommittee’s actions are unclear.

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Commission on Wartime Contracting: Iraq Contracting Disaster Looming

On June 6, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) held a hearing to examine the Department of State's (State) continued preparations for taking control of operations in Iraq from the Department of Defense (DOD). In the past, the CWC has been less than sanguine about State's ability to run contingency operations in Iraq and has chided the agency for slow-walking reforms, especially in relation to contract oversight.

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Agencies Release Preliminary Plans for Retrospective Reviews

On May 26, a wide range of federal agencies released 30 preliminary plans outlining steps each intends to take to meet requirements for reviewing existing regulations, reducing burdens on business, and expanding public participation in the rulemaking process. The plans are part of the Obama administration's efforts to examine ways to reduce regulatory costs and identify outdated and ineffective rules.

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OMB Properly Addressing Improper Payments

On May 23, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced the launch of four new pilot projects designed to further crack down on improper payments from the federal government. The projects focus on implementing best practices and sharing information across state and local governments that help administer payment programs in the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Agriculture (USDA), Labor (DOL), and Treasury.

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