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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Commentary: Defense Acquisition Reform -- Where Do We Stand?

Recent events are pointing to a shift in the way the Department of Defense (DOD) will implement future government contracts. The passage of a new law, the planned addition of much-needed acquisition personnel at DOD – by far the government's largest contracting agency – and an intended top-to-bottom overhaul of the Air Force's procurement process are all geared toward reforming a system ripe with waste, fraud, and abuse. Despite significant progress, these reforms face critical challenges ahead.

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Confirmation Hearing of Chief Performance Officer Nominee Jeffrey Zients

CPO Nominee Jeffrey ZientsThe Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee held a confirmation hearing yesterday to consider the nomination of Jeffrey Zients, President Obama's pick to be Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and sit in the newly created position of Chief Performance Officer. The hearing was uneventful and short, lasting less than an hour, and Zients received mostly praise and kinds words from Senators.

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Acquisition Experts of Little Help to Congress on Defense Reform

U.S. Congress

Last Wednesday morning, I attended a House Armed Services Subcommittee hearing convened by the recently formed Defense Acquisition Reform Panel. The three witnesses – Gordon R. England, a two-time Secretary of the Navy and former Deputy Secretary of Defense, Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., a retired Navy admiral and former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ronald T. Kadish, a retired Air Force Lieutenant General – all emphasized the same abstract fix and provided little, if any, concrete guidance.

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Defense Acquisition Reform: Where Do We Stand?

The Pentagon

Recent events are pointing to a shift by the Department of Defense (DOD) and at least one of the branches of the military in the way they will implement future government contracts. The passage of a new law, the planned addition of much-needed acquisition personnel at DOD – by far the government's largest contracting agency – and an intended top-to-bottom overhaul of the Air Force's procurement process are all geared toward reforming a system ripe with waste, fraud, and abuse. Despite this, barriers remain and these reforms will face critical challenges ahead.

Read the Full Article Here>>

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"Inherently Governmental" = Pornography?

Elizabeth Newell over at FedBlog had an interesting post up yesterday about some reviews being conducted at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In particular, DHS is reviewing service contracts to make sure no inherently governmental work is being done by contractors. Yet the poor definition of that term may inhibit any actual reforms from taking place.

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In late May, started posting data that identified grants and contracts given out under the Recovery Act. This is in addition to the regular data on government spending on the site. Up until now, there has been a disappointing lack of specific data made available about Recovery Act spending, particularly on the website – the main vehicle created for information on implementation of the act.

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GAO Finds Federal Government's Contractor Measurement Tool Lacking

government accountability, you say

In a report released last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), a database on contractors consulted by federal agencies to award contracts, is woefully deficient in the value of information it provides.

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Fairly Weak Acquisition Reform Legislation Makes Its Debut

M-1A1 Abrams

Yesterday, the conference committee assembled to hash out a final weapons acquisition reform bill released the new legislation and a summary report after the two sides came to agreement on Tuesday over the few issues of contention. We are currently going through the language of the bill to assess the final product, but it looks as though the conferees did not strengthen the potentially disastrous Murray amendment, and chose an independent cost analyst reporting to the Secretary of Defense over just an assistant to the secretary. If we catch anything appalling, we will post it, or, if you read through and see anything, please post your comments.

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Congress Meekly Moves toward DOD Acquisition Reform

Both the House and the Senate unanimously passed legislation in early May to overhaul the Department of Defense's (DOD) acquisition process for major weapons systems. While the goal of this legislation is to reform and strengthen the procurement process used at DOD to limit cost and schedule overruns, many of the provisions included in the Senate bill fall short.

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Meager DOD Acquisition Reform Moves to Conference

F-35 JSF

Following up on my previous week's post on DOD reform, the House unanimously passed its version of a bill for defense acquisition reform (H.R. 2101) last Wednesday. With the Senate version of the bill (S. 454) having already passed, both houses quickly moved into conference, as President Obama has asked that the legislation be on his desk before lawmakers break for their Memorial Day recess next week. With important differences between the two bills, the conference process will largely determine whether the final product helps create genuine reform within the Pentagon or merely provides lawmakers with another "accomplishment" to tout to their constituents when they return to their respective districts or states. As things look right now, the latter seems much more likely.

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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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