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The SEVEN stories that impact your life
Washington Post: Confusion Marred Police Response to Navy Yard Shooting, Report Finds- “Communication problems among federal and local authorities complicated the search for the gunman during September’s deadly mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, according to a D.C. police report that says city officers were unable to make use of live video of the shooter as they streamed into harm’s way.”
Government Executive: Too Many Senior Executives Receive Bonuses, Lawmakers Say- “Members of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee panel with jurisdiction over the federal workforce repeatedly pointed to the high number of Senior Executive Service employees who receive positive performance reviews and the corresponding bonuses as problematic. They praised efforts to make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department amid allegations some leaders falsified patient data.”
The New York Times: Chinese Businessman Is Charged in Plot to Steal U.S. Military Data: The owner of a Chinese aviation company spent years taking data from Boeing on military aircraft and weapons, the Justice Department said.
Federal Times: Government travel spending plateaus after years of cuts- “Federal travel spending is down about 8 percent from the same time last fiscal year, according to federal data.Travel spending in fiscal 2014 through May is about $4.1 billion, compared to almost $4.5 billion through May of fiscal 2013, as measured by data from the General Services Administration’s SmartPay charge-card program, which covers more than 2.5 million card holders across the government.”
Federal News Radio: Obama renews initiative helping small fed contractors get paid quickly- “President Barack Obama announced Friday his plans to renew the QuickPay initiative, which requires agencies to pay small business contractors in an expedited fashion. The President also announced the creation of a similar private-sector program. QuickPay launched in 2011 and saw over $1 billion in cost savings for small businesses, the White House said in a release.”
USA Today: Report cites VA struggles with benefits payments By Gregg Zoroya While the VA managed last year to reduce a huge backlog in veteran claims for money, it was at the expense of appeals to those decision which are rapidly mounting.
Nextgov: State Department Downplays Extremist Seizure of Low-Grade Uranium in Iraq- “The U.S. State Department on Thursday moved to reduce concern about the recent seizure of low-grade nuclear material in Iraq by Islamic extremists. Baghdad in a July 8 letter notified the United Nations that roughly 88 pounds of uranium compounds were now under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria after the group took control of a university in Mosul, where the nuclear material was used for scientific research. Though the Iraqi government has warned that ISIS militants could try to use the substance in a terrorist act, independent issue specialists have said the uranium is not suitable for use in a nuclear device or even a radiological "dirty bomb."
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A 'do-nothing Congress'?: It is a reputation that is deserved [The Hill]: Capitol Hill’s reputation as the “do-nothing Congress” is well-deserved. The current session of Congress is on track to pass historically fewer laws of substance, according to an analysis by The Hill. In fact, the major bills that have cleared the 113th Congress to date are nearly all "must-pass" measures or reauthorizations of existing law. Laws of substance under The Hill's analysis are defined as bills that are non-ceremonial and have some tangible impact on policy, even if it is as minor as a land transfer. Ceremonial measures passed by this Congress include naming post offices, awarding Congressional Gold Medals and naming a section of the tax code after former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Out of the 126 laws passed by the 113th Congress so far, only 99 are considered substantive and not related to ceremonial recognitions.
After Lapses, C.D.C. Admits a Lax Culture at Labs [The New York Times] The recent revelations have created a crisis of faith in the federal agency.
A solution to the old rules vs. new tech problem [The Hill oped by Patrick McLaughlin, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University]: Washington, D.C. cabbies recently put together a slow-moving taxi caravan in protest of disruptive transportation services Uber and Lyft, claiming that existing transportation regulations need to be applied to these novel services. In fact, for several months now, regulators and legislators throughout the country have clashed with innovative companies that use new technologies to provide goods and services that already have some regulatory frameworks around them. To name a few: transportation services Uber and Lyft were ordered to cease and desist by the Virginia DMV; electric automaker Tesla wants to sell cars directly to consumers but has run up against legislated protection of franchise auto dealerships in New Jersey, Texas and elsewhere; cities, especially New York, are trying to figure out whether to apply old zoning laws or to create new laws designed to limit short-term rental listing service Airbnb; and Toyota, Audi and other automakers want the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to permit automakers to include adaptive headlight systems on cars sold in the United States — so far to no avail. This list is not exhaustive, nor is the phenomenon new. How should policymakers respond when old rules are rendered obsolete by new technology? So far, we've seen two varieties of responses. Sometimes, policymakers stubbornly refuse to consider the possibility that existing rules should be changed, citing — but not proving — that the rules are necessary for safety or to prevent traffic congestion. In other cases, policymakers respond to the clash of new technology with old rules by creating new rules, changing the existing rules, or by at least promising to study the issue. None of these responses is ideal.