The stories that impact your life your government world in 120-seconds...
A new wrinkle in the GSA scandal. GSA’s acting administrator Dan Tangherlini posted a video yesterday announcing the steps the agency is taking to deal with the seemingly ongoing ramifications of the GSA 2010 Western Regions Conference. In the video, Tangherlini called the spending at that conference totally unacceptable. He said there were violations of travel rules, acquisition rules and good conduct -- and violations of common sense, the spirit of public service and the trust taxpayers have placed in public employees. He said that GSA is taking steps to make the situation right. As part of that, GSA is assessing all conferences and events -- and evaluating the way that the agency uses its resources. Furthermore, the agency is shutting down the “hats off” employee awards program. Tangherlini said that this is a sign to GSA customers and taxpayers that serving customers is reward enough. “Our committment is to our service, our duty and our nation, and not to conferences, awards, or parties."
Meanwhile, let the hearings begin. The first hearings on the situation will be held starting on Monday -- and just about every player has been called to testify. The House Transportation and Infrastuructre Committee announced that it has called everybody from Tangherlini to former administrator Martha Johnson, Bob Peck, who was the commissioner of GSA’s Public Building Service, David Foley, the PBS deputy commissioner -- even an event planner has been called. That hearing takes place on Tuesday.
The fiscal outlook for states and local governments is on the rise. The Government Accountability Office says for the first time many states are seeing an increase in pre-recession level taxes. But that doesn’t mean state and local governments are out of the woods. Property taxes only inched up a slight 1 percent. And federal money from the Recovery Act is all but dried up. The GAO says in order for state and local government to balance their budgets in the future they will need to take a dramatic shift in policies.
The Census Bureau Director Robert Groves is stepping down. Groves will become provost of Georgetown University in August. Federal News Radio says Groves joined Census in 2009. Both the administration and members of Congress credited him with rescuing the 2010 decennial count that was late and over budget.
Military Times, "DoD plans sexual assault crime database," by Rick Maze: "The Defense Department could take a leap forward in its sexual assault prevention programs this summer with the planned deployment of an all-service database to track the names of victims and alleged offenders, the nature of the assaults, and the outcomes, if any, of legal proceedings. This will require the services to take a more uniform approach to issues such as handling evidence and conflicting testimony."
The military is suffering from an IT staffing shortage. Network World says the Army cannot find enough military personnel with the right networking and IT security qualifications. So the Army is making some adjustments. Now the Army will allow individuals to work in areas it calls "an enclave boundary" -- defined as a specific set of routers and firewalls. These people will not have to have the full DoD IT security qualifications.
NASA is teaming up with the State Department, USAID and Nike to make space missions more sustainable and they need your help. Federal News Radio says the program known as LAUNCH: Beyond Waste will accept ideas through May 15th.
The White House is working up plans for a new Chief Technology Officers Council. The goal is to share insights and problem solving techniques across government. Next Gov says the new council doesn't have an official name yet, but it will function something like a less formal version of the Chief Information Officers' Council. The Council will be an addition to the President's Innovation Cohort, a group formed early in the Obama administration for politically appointed chief technology and chief innovation officers.
The Government Accountability Office has found the Defense Department is struggling to separate inherently governmental work from contractor-appropriate work. Washington Technology says the Army inventory reviews of fiscal 2009 services contracts found more than 19-hundred instances of contractors conducting inherently government functions, or work only a federal employee can do.