New Posts

Feb 8, 2016

Top 400 Taxpayers See Tax Rates Rise, But There’s More to the Story

As Americans were gathering party supplies to greet the New Year, the Internal Revenue Service released their annual report of cumulative tax data reported on the 400 tax r...

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Feb 4, 2016

Chlorine Bleach Plants Needlessly Endanger 63 Million Americans

Chlorine bleach plants across the U.S. put millions of Americans in danger of a chlorine gas release, a substance so toxic it has been used as a chemical weapon. Greenpeace’s new repo...

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Jan 25, 2016

U.S. Industrial Facilities Reported Fewer Toxic Releases in 2014

The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data for 2014 is now available. The good news: total toxic releases by reporting facilities decreased by nearly six percent from 2013 levels. Howe...

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Jan 22, 2016

Methane Causes Climate Change. Here's How the President Plans to Cut Emissions by 40-45 Percent.

  UPDATE (Jan. 22, 2016): Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its proposed rule to reduce methane emissions...

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Federal Government's IT Reform Efforts Come Into Focus

Jeffery Zients

Last month, OMB management guru Jeff Zients unveiled the Obama administration's five-part internet technology (IT) reform proposal during a talk before the Northern Virginia Tech Council. Highlighting the administration's achievements in IT reform thus far – including the launching of the IT Dashboard and a recently concluded review of federal financial system projects – Zients sketched out the five parts: introducing budget and acquisitions flexibility, strengthening program management, increasing accountability, increasing engagement with industry, and adopting light technologies.

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Commentary: Contracting Oversight in the 112th Congress

With the GOP winning control of the House on Nov. 2, Republican members of House oversight committees are poised to determine how the lower chamber of Congress uses its investigatory powers for the next two years. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the likely chairman-to-be of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has released what his website calls "a blueprint" for oversight of the executive branch, and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) released a document shortly after the elections calling for greater congressional oversight overall. With plenty of contracting issues that remain unexamined or in need of further investigation, what will this shift mean for congressional oversight of government contracting in the next Congress?

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Failing to Protect Your Employees? Here’s Your Federal Contract.

The Government Accountability Office found that major worker safety, health, and rights violators hide among the federal government’s most lucrative contract awardees. A new GAO report shows that the government awarded contracts to firms after they were cited for violations or fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the federal agency responsible for worker rights issues like back wages and child labor.

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Would McCaskill's Contingency Contracting IG be Worth It?

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

At a Senate Armed Services hearing last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) urged officials from the Department of Defense (DOD) to establish a permanent inspector general office for contingency contracting. If the billions wasted through our rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan – which, by the way, are likely to be the kinds of wars we are going to fight into the indefinite future – is any measure, it seems a permanent IG might be worth the investment.

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Congressional Oversight Panel Examines TARP Contracting

On Sept. 22, the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), the body tasked by Congress to oversee implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), examined the Department of the Treasury’s use of private contractors under the program. Witnesses from government, the private sector, and the nonprofit world critiqued Treasury’s use of financial services contractors and highlighted lessons about improved competition and openness that the government should take from the soon-to-be-ended program.

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Posting Federal Contracts Online: The Next Step in Contracting Transparency?

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on May 13 that could establish standards for posting federal contracts online. Providing the public online access to electronic copies of federal contracts could create a new level of accountability in federal procurement, but some contractors have opposed the idea, claiming it would cost too much and could reveal confidential business information.

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GAO: Lack of Competition in Some Contracting Difficult to Overcome

In a recent report to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found systemic hurdles to reducing the dollars spent on contracts not competed or those that are competed but only receive one bid. The reasons provided to GAO for the use of these contract vehicles reveal the difficulties that the Obama administration and Congress will face in instituting further reforms; they range from technical hegemony or general expertise by contractors to institutional indolence.

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Posting Federal Contracts Online: Let's Do It

OMB Watch supports a rule to post federal contracts online.

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Is Standard Coding Just Around the Corner?

That was fast

It wasn't three weeks ago that Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, told Congress that conducting oversight of Recovery Act funds was unnecessarily burdensome due to the lack of a standardized coding system for government contracts, and now the procurement regulating arm of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed a solution.

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Standard Coding Next Big Step in Contracting Oversight

A Scanner Darkly

Testifying before a Senate subcommittee last week about efforts to deploy a sophisticated fraud-prevention tool developed through the Recovery Act across all federal agencies, a government official told senators that the "biggest impediment" to successful utilization of the technology is "the lack of a...governmentwide award number system." Adoption of such a system, which would provide a universal code to government contract awards, could transform federal contracting oversight.

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Resources & Research

Living in the Shadow of Danger: Poverty, Race, and Unequal Chemical Facility Hazards

People of color and people living in poverty, especially poor children of color, are significantly more likely...

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A Tale of Two Retirements: One for CEOs and One for the Rest of Us

The 100 largest CEO retirement funds are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American fam...

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