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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Of Campaign Promises and No-Bid Contracts

Everyone chill out, I got this

With the recent passage of President Obama's first anniversary in office, journalists, bloggers, and commentators have been sizing up the administration's accomplishments and failures thus far. In that spirit, Fox News, in an article examining a contract recently awarded under the Obama administration, concluded that the president has failed to keep his campaign promise of ending no-bid "sweetheart deals" in government contracting. To say that this verdict – which manipulated OMB Watch data – is misleading and a bit premature is an understatement.

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Executives Caught in FBI Sting Represent Companies with Government Contracts

Some guy getting arrested

On Tuesday, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested 22 executives from the military and police equipment industry on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), they nabbed a number of individuals that work for companies that contract with the government. Of the 16 companies represented, at least half received federal dollars for products or services during fiscal year 2009, and most of them have had a relationship with the government stretching back several years.

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Just Saying 'No' to Tax Cheats

This is freaking sweet: President Obama issued a memorandum on Wednesday designed to ensure that companies that are seriously delinquent on their taxes are not awarded federal contracts.

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New DOD Contracting Rule Aims at Flawed Business Systems

An Old Accounting System

A proposed rule published in the most recent edition of the Federal Register takes aim at Department of Defense (DOD) contractors with deficient business systems. The rule, which seeks to reduce "the risk of unallowable and unreasonable costs on Government contracts," would allow contracting officers to withhold a percentage of payments from contractors with deficiencies in specific business systems.

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Final Defense Bill Includes Franken Anti-Rape Amendment

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Back in October, I wrote about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and his praise-worthy amendment to the FY 2010 Defense appropriations bill that would bar the government from contracting with companies who prevent their employees from bringing workplace sexual assault cases to court. The amendment passed easily 68 to 30 – with the thirty senators who voted against the measure receiving a good amount of backlash – but shortly after the vote there were rumors that conferees would strip the amendment from the final bill during reconciliation with the House. Not to fear, though, because according to Sam Stein over at the Huffington Post, the Franken amendment survived, and the final language is "remarkably strong."

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House Committee to Hold Hearing on Army Contracting Scandal

U.S. Army

Back in August, I wrote a post on a WaPo article about George Raymond, a former Army official with the Communications-Electronic Command (CECOM), and allegations that Raymond steered government contracts to his friends and then broke ethics rules by taking a comfortable job in the contracting industry afterwards. The Post is now reporting that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – which has been investigating the matter since the story broke – recently requested all documents, emails, and material related to the $200 million worth of CECOM technology contracts that Raymond allegedly steered to friends.

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OFPP Nominee Confirmed

The Office of Management and Budget

This past Saturday evening, the Senate took a break from considering health care insurance reform to confirm Daniel Gordon to be the next administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). President Obama nominated Gordon on Oct. 2. A former deputy general counsel of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Gordon will face several challenges as soon as he begins his tenure.

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OMB Watch Submits Comments on Contractor Database

On Nov. 5, OMB Watch submitted comments and recommendations to the General Services Administration (GSA) on the new Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS). Required by the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the database is supposed to help contracting officials make better award determinations by providing timely information on the honesty and reliability of contractors.

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OMB Watch Submits Comments on Contractor Database

Your Comments Please

Yesterday, OMB Watch submitted comments on the proposed Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS), the new contractor performance database called for under last year's National Defense Authorization Act. Our comments focused on three areas: data quality and display; database training for contracting officials; and public access to the database. Look for a more in-depth treatment of the proposed database and the comments we supplied in next week's Watcher.

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OMB Releases Contracting Guidance

The Office of Management and Budget has just released two long-awaited contracting reform memos as part of President Obama's larger efforts to overhaul federal contracting. The memos outline ways to increase competition while reducing risks for the government and about strategic planning for the acquisition workforce.

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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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