They’re debating health care at the Supreme Court. What if there was something like a Yelp of Government Healthcare… something that could help veterans navigate the confusing world of healthcare with dashboards.. and sharing information. We’ll talk about that…
Making budgets transparent. It has been the goal of the federal Web site, USAspending.gov. But state and local governments have been doing this for some time… and there are some new rankings out… grades, really… for how they are doing. We’ll talk to the people behind the budget transparency grades…
And yesterday we told you about the virtual worlds conference. And I heard some of you roll your eyes and say that this is just game playing. Today, we’ll talk about how these tools can actually be used — and, yes, how they can save you money.
And later in the program… What do Conan O’Brien, Cory Booker, Sesame Street’s Grover, Suze Orman, Ted Leo, Neil Patrick Harris and NASA have in common? We will tell you about an award that NASA has won.
The stories that impact your life for Tuesday the 27 of March, 2012… your government world in 120-seconds…
House Republican leaders canceled a vote Monday on a bill that would extend transportation provisions for three months. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he wanted the extension to give Congress more time to debate points in a permanent bill. But Politico says he couldn’t get the votes. Congress has until Saturday to pass any bill to keep transportation authorized. Otherwise, federal highway and transit programs shut down and the government can’t collect gasoline taxes. The Senate has already passed a $109 billion bill to keep transportation going until the end of fiscal 2013.
The Defense Department is looking for “cost-conscious” contractors. Federal Times says the Pentagon’s contracting officers are being asked to more thoroughly analyze the costs companies propose and to justify the contract decisions they make. The Defense Department’s contracting official Shay Assad says the goal is to make contracting officers more informed about what makes up a program’s cost and how to drive down those costs.
The Obama administration has directed a health insurance company to cover the same-sex spouse of a federal employee. The Washington Post reports that the case involves a federal court employee in California, Karen Golinski, who had requested coverage for her wife. OPM initially said her spouse could not be covered, but OPM has now changed that position.
Do you remember the horrible Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine explosion from two years ago? The explosion killed 29 people. Now an independent panel says that explosion could have been prevented if federal regulators had implemented the agency’s own regulations. The Washington Postsays, an independent investigation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that the Mine Safety and Health Administration failed to heed warning signs. But the Mine Safety and Health Administration is fighting back. They say Massey’s mine management routinely used illegal tactics to conceal violations from inspectors.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate has passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. The goal is to stop insider trading by senior government officials. But Washington Technology says, unlike the Senate’s original, this bill doesn’t include a provision requiring analysts to register as lobbyists. The bill also falls just short of naming contractors as lobbyists. The House’s version of the STOCK Act asks the Government Accountability Office to assess the use of “political intelligence.” and then make recommendations on narrowing the definitions.
Federal buildings are going green. The General Services Administration is looking for contractors across the country to make energy retrofits to 30 federal buildings. The Washington Post says, the “Deep Retrofit Challenge” is a step in the government’s push to save money on its real estate costs by making federal property more energy efficient— an expensive up-front investment the Obama administration hopes will save money in the long run. [GSA release]
The Federal Information Systems Management Act — the 8-year-old act that lays the framework for federal cyber-security — it could be getting an update. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa wants to formalize the post of chief information security officer within federal departments and agencies. GovInfo Security says the bill would also establish stronger oversight through automated and continuous monitoring of cyber-security threats and conducting regular threat assessments. The bill has strong bipartisan support.
The IT supply chain might not be as secure as the government would like it to be. A new Government Accountability Office report found that IT products made overseas could open the government up to an attack by foreign intelligence agents or counterfeiters. GovInfoSecurity says each of the key threats could create an unacceptable risk to federal agencies. But the Energy, Homeland Security, Justice and Defense Departments say the costs to determine if such threats exist may outweigh the potential risks posed by the supply chain.
US support for the war in Afghanistan is steadily dropping. The New York Times says after a series of violent episodes and setbacks, support for the war has dropped sharply with both Republicans and Democrats. The poll by the New York Times and CBS found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed think that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. That number is a significant increase from just four months ago, when 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the decade-old conflict.
A Yelp for government healthStu Rabinowitz, Senior Director, Technology and Architecture for CCSi
Navigating the confusing world of government healthcare services is an almost overwhelming task… and particularly for active military and veterans returning home from war. What if there was something like a Yelp for Yelp of government healthcare. Stu Rabinowitz is the senior director of Technology and Architecture forCCSi. He has been pondering this idea… I asked him how it would work…
Grading budget transparencyPhineas Baxandall is the Senior Policy Analyst for Tax and Budget issues for the Public Interest Research Groups
Follow the money. It’s the iconic line from “All the President’s Men.” But it reigns true for states trying to track their spending on transparency sites. And the grades are just out on how states are doing on making budget data open and transparent. And there are some real lessons for governments at every level. You’ll be surprised to learn that some states did better than others.
Phineas Baxandall is the Senior Policy Analyst for Tax and Budget issues for the Public Interest Research Groups. They have graded the 50 states in providing online access to government spending data. And he told me how they did.
NASA’s shortie: What do Conan O’Brien, Cory Booker, Sesame Street’s Grover, Suze Orman, Ted Leo, Neil Patrick Harris and NASA have in common? NASA last night won a Shorty Award — these are awards for the best Twitter feeds… and yes, @NASA was the winner in the government category.
Tweeting contracts… Speaking of Twitter… Should the government tweet out opportunities? That is what one British community is doing. In Norfolk county, the council has started publishing all of its contracts… on Twitter. The Guardian newspaper reports that the council believes the Twitter feed makes it easier for local businesses to bid on council contracts… and that it cuts down on paperwork.