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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Non-Competed Contracts Down Slightly in FY 2010

In February, the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) completed an audit examining the agency's use of non-competed contracts in fiscal year (FY) 2010. The audit finds DHS significantly reduced its use of these risky contracting vehicles, lowering both the total real contracting dollars spent and the percentage of contracting dollars spent on sole-source contracts. An examination of other federal agencies' non-competed contract spending reveals a similar, though less dramatic, trend.

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Commentary: Congress's Backward Budgeting

Some in Congress are treating a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on duplicative federal programs as a recipe book for budget cutting. However, GAO's recommendations for fixes are more nuanced, and the report ultimately underscores the value of implementing effective program measurement tools and carefully calibrating federal spending to ensure that national priorities are addressed.

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Our Six-Point Plan for Spending Transparency

As I wrote about yesterday in this post, last Friday the House Oversight Committee held a great hearing focusing on spending transparency. We submitted written testimony for the hearing, which you can read here. In it, we talk about the six changes Congress and the Obama administration should make to, the government's spending website which is based off of one of our websites,

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Obama Issues Memo on Federal-State Relationship; Intent Unclear

Last week, President Obama quietly issued a memo titled, “Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The memo directs the Office of Management and Budget to work with state and local entities to identify “unnecessary administrative, regulatory, and legislative burdens” in order to achieve “better outcomes at lower cost.”

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Commentary: GAO Duplicative Programs Report Shows Need for More than Spending Cuts

The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recent report on duplicative federal programs has caused quite a stir in Washington. Conservative lawmakers have latched on to the report as "proof" of the need to cut billions of dollars of federal spending. Whether Congress should make such cuts is debatable, but the tome-like report includes much more than an extensive list of duplicative federal programs. It also provides a list of potential cost savings that involve continued prodding and oversight from Congress and some that may even require additional spending to help reduce waste, fraud, and abuse.

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Administration Backpedals on Key Transparency Initiative

Transparency, apparently, has its limits.

The Obama administration might be reducing contract spending, but don't expect the contracts the government signs to show up online anytime soon. Withdrawing a proposal made last May, the administration quietly announced yesterday that it's abandoning what has turned out to be a tepid examination of posting federal contracts online.

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Obama Administration Reduces Contract Spending

'Everyone, chill.  I got this.'

Robert Brodsky over at Government Executive brings news that the federal government, for the first time in 13 years, spent less on the procurement of private sector goods and services than it did the previous year. Dropping $15 billion below the fiscal year (FY) 2009 levels of $550 billion, the Obama administration says it is on target to meet the president's goal of reducing contract spending seven percent through FY 2011.

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SOTU Budget and Economy Reactions

Here are a few clips from insightful commentaries on the president's State of the Union Address on what President Obama had to say about the federal budget and the economy.

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DOD Getting a Better Handle on Contractor Numbers

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the branches of the armed forces utilize hundreds of thousands of contractors to perform a multitude of support functions each year. This includes everything from management and information technology (IT) support to intelligence work and weapons maintenance. Until 2008, neither the Pentagon nor the military branches knew exactly how many contractors they employed, nor were they required to find out. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report sheds some light on the Pentagon's congressionally mandated efforts to tally its contractors, along with whether DOD is using the information to make better personnel decisions.

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Upper Big Branch Explosion Was Preventable, Investigators Say

Massey Energy’s failure to comply with government safety standards contributed to an April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, according to preliminary reports from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The explosion killed 29 miners.

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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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more resources