Federal Times Blogs
The icy rain pelting the D.C. region notwithstanding, federal agencies are open today, the Office of Personnel Management says, but employees have the option of unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Click here for the advisory posted on OPM’s website. Stay safe!
On April 2, 2012 a General Services Administration Inspector General report detailed wasteful practices at an $823,000, 2010 regional conference in Las Vegas, leading to the ouster of GSA’s top leadership and reforming government conference spending.
A music-video parody of Travie McCoy’s music video for ‘Billionaire‘ featuring Bruno Mars by then GSA employee Hank Terlaje titled “The Commissioner Project” and shown at the conference quickly became one of the most famous – or infamous – parts of the ongoing scandal.
It’s also quite catchy. (Full disclosure: Terlaje says in the song that every time he closes his eyes he sees his name on Federal Times.)
But recently Terlaje received a copyright for the work and one key lawmaker is saying it is ineligible.
Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini Feb. 4 and said the video was created using government resources – including employees and facilities – for a government event and is there ineligible for a copyright.
“As the video appears to have been filmed at federal government facilities, with GSA personnel, and for the express purpose of use at an official event, the committee is concerned that securing a private copyright on such work is inappropriate. Any such copyright would appear to rightfully belong to the federal government,” Issa said in the letter.
Issa is requesting all agency documents and communications regarding the production and creation of the work and any and all communications regarding Terlaje and the video.
The video shows Terlaje in a cubicle and other office spaces as well as on the beach and in parks.
I have reached out to Terlaje for comment and will update if I receive any response. Or if he reads it here he can always email me at email@example.com.
Federal agencies may have a tough time holding on to their program managers come 2017.
A new Government Accountability Office report ranked program management as the occupational category with the highest percentage of employees eligible to retire by 2017. For mid-sized agencies like the General Services Administration, Housing and Urban Development Department and Office of Personnel Management, 56 percent of employees involved in program management will be eligible to retire in the next three years, the report found.
At larger agencies that number is nearly 44 percent.
As more employees become eligible to retire, GAO noted that occupations like program management may face significantly higher turnover rates than others. For mid-sized agencies, here are the occupations with the highest percentage of employees eligible to retire by 2017:
1. Program Management
3. General business and industry
4. Misc. clerk and assistant
5. General arts and information
6. General engineering
7. Misc. administration and program
8. Financial administration and program
9. Human resource management
10. Information technology management
For large agencies, custodial work and air traffic control topped the list of occupations with the highest number of employees who are approaching retirement. Read page 21 of the GAO report for more details.
When the military dog Rex II came home to Fort Myer after serving in Afghanistan he was unable to be placed into a home right away because of behavioral issues. But two federal employees believed the dog had earned a second chance for helping to protect service members and save lives while overseas.
So GSA’s Mid-Atlantic Area Property Officer Robert Kitsock worked with Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Property Disposal Technician Angela Sakyrd to help find him a home at the Panama City Beach Police Department.
Read more about it on the GSA blog.
The price of a first-class stamp rises from 46 to 49 cents tomorrow and the cost of a host of other mail products and services will also increase following regulators’ decision last month to grant the U.S. Postal Service a temporary emergency rate increase.
As FedLine noted a couple of days ago, both the U.S. Postal Service and a mailing industry coalition planned to contest (albeit for different reasons) the Postal Regulatory Commission’s ruling. In appeals Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, both camps followed through. You can read the USPS filing here and the industry’s here, but neither spells out the grounds for their respective appeals. They will have to do so by Feb. 24, under a schedule released Friday by the court clerk’s office.
In a news release, industry leaders called the PRC’s ruling mistaken and warned that it could boomerang on the Postal Service. “The evidence used to secure this increase, more than three times the rate of inflation, is fundamentally flawed, and thus inherently inaccurate,” said Mary Berner, president and CEO of MPA–The Association of Magazine Media. “Increased rates will only result in more lost volume for the Postal Service. . . . This counterproductive decision should be returned to sender.”
In granting a emergency postal rate hike last month, the Postal Regulatory Commission left both sides unhappy: The mailing industry, represented by an umbrella group known as the Affordable Mail Alliance, was displeased that the five-member commission agreed to any increase above the inflation rate; U.S. Postal Service leaders were frustrated that the boost will be temporary, ending once $2.8 billion is raised.
Now, the two camps are both preparing to appeal the decision in court. The Postal Service will file its challenge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by Thursday’s deadline, spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in a Wednesday email, while proceeding with implementation of the increase on Jan. 26 (this coming Sunday), as previously announced. Also on Thursday, the mailers alliance will file an intent to appeal the commission’s decision, an industry source said.
Federal offices in the Washington, D.C. region will be open Wednesday, but with employees allowed to arrive up to two hours later than usual, according to an Office of Personnel Management advisory. Workers will also have the option of unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework, OPM said.
Wednesday’s delayed opening comes after federal agencies in the area were closed Tuesday because of a winter storm.
The General Services Administration wants input from contractors and businesses about how to build sustainability into procurements.
In the Federal Acquisition Service, we have been piloting the introduction of sustainability considerations into our procurements, particularly into the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative solutions. In addition to green product requirements, we’ve been looking at distribution networks, product takeback, and packaging reduction. Keeping in mind that more than 75% of our vendors are small businesses and that we want to be consistent with commercial practices, what else do you think we should be specifying to make a purchase “sustainable”? Should we look at vendor practices and if so, which ones?
Those interested in giving feedback can go here.
With a major winter storm moving in, federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. region are closed today, the Office of Personnel Management has announced. As usual, emergency staff and telework-ready employees must follow their agencies’ policies. Here is the text of the official advisory.
In the area, snow is expected to begin falling around 7 a.m., with accumulations of 6 to 10 inches, according to this National Weather Service winter storm warning. For anyone who’s keeping track (FedLine always like to keep things in context), this is the second snow day of the season for several hundred thousand D.C.-area feds; the first was Dec. 10. Stay safe, everyone!
Irony alert: In its quest to improve management of its finances, the Navy is having trouble managing the contractors who have received tens of millions of dollars to help the service meet congressionally imposed “audit-readiness” deadlines.
That’s the takeaway from a newly released review by the Defense Department’s inspector general. One finding: The Navy’s Fleet Logistics Center office in Philadelphia spent $12.6 million on two task orders, “but did not adequately track whether the contractor met the requirements.”
The report highlights other shortcomings in how Navy employees oversaw the contracting work, including failing to devise quality assurance plans for some task orders and not recording when “deliverables” were turned in. The findings appear to have gotten no serious argument from either Naval Supply Systems Command—which includes the Fleet Logistics Center—or the Navy’s Office of Financial Operations, which agreed to make improvements.
The IG review also serves as a reminder that there is some serious taxpayer money involved in meeting the audit-readiness mandate. As of the end of fiscal 2012, the Navy had obligated about $123.3 million worth of contracts to four heavyweights of the consulting world—Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte and KPMG—with almost $51 million spent. The review does not say which firm’s task orders did not get adequate oversight.
By law, the services and the Defense Department are supposed to have auditable financial statements in place by September 2017. While the Marine Corps recently received a clean opinion on its fiscal year 2012 schedule of budgetary activity, the Navy’s general fund financial statements for both FY12 and FY 2013 were—once again—unauditable, according to a separate review.