Over the last few days the IRS has become the focus of the media after evidence that some employees targeted specific political groups seeking a certain type of non-profit status. Lawmakers have called or hearings or the firing of those employees while outside groups have cried foul over their treatment by the IRS.
So what happens now? How bad is it? Is this a major scandal or the standard procedure for IRS enforcement of these tax-exempt groups?
For all of you federal employees out there feel free to chime in about how you feel about the unfolding story or comment anonymously to email@example.com
We had a great response from all of you readers last time we did this so we are opening it up for another round of comments from fellow feds.
Federal employees have a lot to deal with. Congress has slashed budgets governmentwide while the sequester has forced agencies to initiate furloughs. Feds are being asked to do more than ever with fewer resources and are being stretched to the limit.
But beyond all that, it seems that some federal employees are working in barely functioning facilities. There have been stories of mold, exploding toilets, cracked ceiling tiles and leaky plumbing. Agencies have multi-billion backlogs of repairs and maintenance that have not been funded in years, and feds are paying the price.
What is it like at your building? Has something broken and just not been fixed? Have you been told that repairs to bathroom fixtures are not on the table? Tell us all your horror stories about where you work by commenting on the blog, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your issues.
One morning in August 2011, the vice president of an information technology contractor for the federal government awoke, checked his BlackBerry and noticed something strange.
Overnight, as court records would later go on to describe, someone had sent an email from the unnamed executive’s work account to a former employee.
An internal investigation soon led to a federal probe by the FBI and the General Service Administration’s Office of Inspector General.
Now, nearly two years after that unusual email, the former employee, Robert Edwin Steele, 38, stands convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., of 14 counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer.
In announcing the conviction Friday, federal prosecutors said Steele worked at multiple companies in government contracting, resigning from one known only as “Company A” in December 2010.
But after leaving the company and while working for another contractor, prosecutors said Steele continued sifting through his old employer’s records. All told, he accessed the company’s internal system more than 79,000 times from December 2010 to early September 2011, authorities said.
When sentenced in July, Steele faces up to one year in prison on two misdemeanor convictions and five years on each of 12 felony convictions.
Kathleen McGrade was a contract specialist inside the State Department, but prosecutors say she didn’t live like one.
Steering tens of millions of dollars in work to a company controlled by her husband, McGrade bought a yacht, penthouse condo and lots of jewelry, according to charges unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Virginia.
McGrade, 64, and her husband, Brian C. Collinsworth, 46, both of Fredericksburg, Va., face up to 20 years in prison on charges stemming from what authorities called a “secret scheme” by the couple to steer more than $60 million to a company they controlled.
Authorities said McGrade was a private contract employee assigned to work as a contract specialist inside the State Department. Though she kept the relationship with her husband a secret from colleagues, she signed off on payments to her husband’s company, authorities said.
In forfeiture papers filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on April 2, prosecutors also said McGrade was “involved in nearly every stage” of the contracting process. They say the scheme lasted from December to 2007 until August 2011.
Prosecutors are seeking three properties tied to the scheme along with a Steinway piano, a yacht, artwork and jewelry that includes a matching sapphire and diamond necklace and bracelet set that cost $136,500.
A phone number listed for McGrade in Virginia was disconnected, and attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Every year in May people across the country join together to recognize the work done by federal employees. Public Service Recognition Week – organized by the Public Employees Roundtable – will be held May 5 to 11 and will include a public town hall meeting with Cabinet secretaries and a congressional breakfast to announce the finalists of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals.
The Federal Times will also be running several pages worth of stories about hard-working federal employees and their contributions to their agencies, missions and to the good of the country.
Here is a video of Federal Times Editor Steve Watkins with more about PSRW and the Federal Times.
The Defense Information Systems Agency is one step closer to standing up cloud broker services for the Defense Department.
As DoD’s cloud broker, DISA will manage the use, performance and delivery of cloud services and negotiate contracts between cloud service providers and DoD consumers.
DISA announced Tuesday that it has developed a process for gathering and assessing DoD’s cloud computing requirements, evaluating vendors’ cloud offerings against contract requirements and has created a catalog for cloud services. In a June 2012 memo, DoD Chief Information Officer Teri Takai said all DoD components must acquire government or industry-provided cloud services using DISA, or obtain a waiver.
DISA will manage cloud services categorized as low or moderate in terms of potential impact on DoD operations in the event of a disaster or cyberattack. The agency will also ensure that cloud offerings comply with the department’s information assurance and cybersecurity policies.
DISA is using Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) standards to vet cloud providers. The security program provides baseline standards to approve cloud services and products for governmentwide use.
By June 2014, all cloud services and products in use at federal agencies or in an active acquisition process must meet FedRAMP requirements.
So, far, CGI Federal and North Carolina-based Autonomic Resources are the only companies that have completed the FedRAMP security reviews. The companies will be the first FedRAMP-approved vendors to host DoD’s public data inside commercial data centers.
DoD approval of these companies to provide commercial cloud services is imminent, according to DISA. Both companies have already seen big business among civilian agencies and have spots on the General Services Administration’s cloud computing contract.
GSA is deciding whether to stand up similar cloud broker services for civilian agencies, which could entail private companies serving as brokers.
Put all government security clearance holders together and you’d have the second-largest city in the United States, according to the latest annual numbers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
As of October, the number of federal employees and contractors allowed coveted access to secret information totaled almost 4.92 million, an increase of about 1 percent over the preceding year. Of that total, about 3.5 million were feds, augmented by almost 1.1 million contract employees, the ODNI report said. There were also about 300,000 cleared individuals who fell in the category of “other,” meaning that records didn’t make clear whether they were government or contract workers.
The continued growth in the number of clearance-holders is “surprising,” given that the intelligence community’s budget has been on the decline, said Steve Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.
“The size of the clearance system seems to lag behind drops in the budget,” Aftergood said.
This is the third year for which ODNI has produced the congressionally required report, which–when first published in 2011–showed that the number of cleared individuals was far higher than earlier estimates. As Aftergood noted on his blog, the agency unsuccessfully asked lawmakers to drop the requirement last year.
And, for the record, New York City is the nation’s largest city, with a population of more than 8.2 million, according to a 2011 estimate. Los Angeles is runner-up, with about 3.8 million people.
May 5 marks the beginning of Public Service Recognition Week. For this occasion, Federal Times invites you to share your thoughts on the state of federal public service.
These are trying and uncertain days for federal employees. Their compensation and contribution to the nation are under scrutiny like never before. Public support for federal employees is low. The nation’s leaders are engaged in an important debate on how to readjust the size and role of government.
Meanwhile, federal employees are retiring in large numbers.
We invite you to write a short, candid essay — between 300 and 500 words — on the state of federal public service and on what, if anything, should be done to improve it. The essay will be considered for publication in our May 6 issue and on our website.
Please submit your essay no later than Friday, April 19, to Markie Harwood at email@example.com.
Have you ever considered leaving your job? We know a lot of you have, whether for financial reasons or because you didn’t like the work environment. In the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey many of you filled out, you were asked:
- Are you considering leaving your organization within the next year, and if so, why?
How many of you said you were considering it? Did you go through with it or did you stay? What are the main reasons you would want to leave? For the people out there who wanted to stay, what is the main reason that keeps you where you work?
Feel free to comment on the blog post or send an anonymous email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what it is — the perks, the bosses, the pay or anything else — that keeps you satisfied, or pushes you to leave.
Federal Times would like to find out how you feel about your managers — from your frontline boss to your agency’s head in Washington. With the sequester hitting, budgets getting slashed, and morale plummeting, are your bosses helping you make the best of a bad situation? Or are they only making things worse?
Sound off below, or e-mail email@example.com. If you’d like to remain anonymous, that’s fine.