A decade-long Homeland Security Department effort to better secure America‚"ôs shipping ports from terrorism using biometric identification cards has been so bungled that lawmakers should consider other alternatives, a congressional watchdog reports.
Taking a hard line after devastating leaks, the Pentagon is ordering workers to delete from their computers any classified information they find online and warning it will punish those who confirm secrets already in the public domain, according to an internal memo obtained by the Washington Guardian.
Controversy has engulfed the National Security Agency after it was revealed the office - and others like it - were collecting citizens' phone and e-mail records. ¬†The public revelations have split Congress, with some lawmakers defending the program as an effective way to fight terrorism, and others viewing it as the first step to the totalitarian "Big Brother" depicted in George Orwell's classic, 1984.
The federal agency charged with guarding against abuses in the commodities markets is facing questions about its own excesses.The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has tripled its budget since 2008, increasing its payroll by $50 million over the last two years alone while handing out $1.2 million in bonuses and even lining up a contractor to reward its employees with $50 gift cards.And the independent federal agency, which is free from the normal civil service system compensation limits, pays a whopping 82 percent of its employees a six-figure salary.
The Energy Department helped a struggling government-backed clean coal power plant in California secure a new owner in a donor to President Barack Obama and agreed to revised terms that raised the risk of taxpayer losses, government investigators have found.The Department's Office of Inspector General said that officials helped keep Hydrogen Energy California afloat after its initial backers moved to terminate their DOE contract in the face of fading commercial prospects.
The Justice Department spent a whopping $58.7 million last year to send its employees to conferences around the world, a jet-setting junket machine that has a key senator questioning the agency's commitment to frugality in an era of sequester budget cuts.
The agency that sent man to the moon and gave most Americans their first glimpse of computers more than four decades ago today no longer manages its technology effectively, leaving it vulnerable to cyber attacks and excessive spending, according to its internal watchdog.
The State Department is failing to adequately protect U.S. diplomats in Beirut, leaving them without necessary counterterrorism training and serving in a¬†decrepit, aged embassy compound that fails to meet security protocols, according to an internal investigation that raises new questions about the Obama administration's commitment to protecting Americans overseas in the aftermath of the Benghazi tragedy.
The Education Department, charged with helping students compete in the 21st century, isn't using basic online tools to fight rapidly rising student loan fraud that is now costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.A new assessment by the department's internal watchdog, the inspector general, found officials were not using basic digital investigative tools like checking Internet Protocol (IP) addresses or verifying email addresses, allowing easy avenues for defrauding federally backed student loans.
A House committee is expanding its investigation of¬†Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after the Cabinet secretary acknowledged she reached out to three more health care companies to raise money to assist in implementing President Obama's health care law.
The Environmental Protection Agency paid $750,000 a year to a warehouse contractor in suburban Washington whose employees watched television and lifted weights while taxpayer-paid supplies decayed in moldy, rat-infested conditions, an internal investigation found.Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins' report about the "deplorable" conditions inside the 70,000 square foot facility in Landover, Md., stunned top EPA officials and prompted the immediate removal of the contractor.
The government is already struggling to manage the more than 195,000 foreclosed homes it now possesses and is ill-prepared as a new wave of foreclosures looms on the horizon,¬†according to federal watchdogs who paint a less rosy picture of the housing market than politicians.
The real estate giant chaired by Richard Blum, the husband of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is cashing in on a new federal crisis.Just a few years after the firm now known as CBRE Group collected more than $108 million from a contract to help the FDIC sell foreclosed properties, the company owned in part by Blum is selling off old post offices under an exclusive contract with the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service, records show.
In addition to the military's own medics, the Pentagon spends $1 billion a year hiring private healthcare providers to treat troops and their families.¬† And the system remains fractured, disorganized and overlapping despite years of warnings, according to ¬†a Government Accountability Office report that concludes millions of tax dollars are being wasted.
Social Security is already facing a financial crisis as more people rely on payments and fewer taxpayers pay into the program. Now it may soon face a people crisis.The Social Security Administration is ill-prepared to deal with the large numbers of its workers who are planning to retire, even as the agency's workload is increasing, according to a new Government Accountability Office report that warns that one of the consequences could be an increase in erroneous retirement and disability payments.
Imagine a deeply indebted household paying two companies to cut the same lawn, a shopper going to Costco and not buying bulk or a failing company paying billions to study itself.You don't have to imagine hard. Uncle Sam is essentially doing all of the above right now.That's the message of a new Government Accountability Office report that has identified billions of dollars the government could save just by ending duplicate contracts and eliminating unnecessary programs.
The Internal Revenue Service can improve its handling of tax examinations and audits, allowing it to recoup more of the estimated $450 billion annually in unpaid taxes, investigators said.Although not directly tied to the embattled tax-exempt office that has come under fire from lawmakers this week, the report by the Government Accountability Office shows there‚"ôs still room for improvement with how the IRS conducts reviews of tax records.
Inside the Beltway, perhaps no event this week captured more attention than the ongoing Internal Revenue Service scandal, which both political parties have been quick to highlight as an example of government overreach.One of the central figures is Lois Lerner, the now-former director of the IRS exempt organizations division.¬† Lerner's office targeted some conservative-leaning groups for additional scrutiny and delayed their applications for tax exempt status, which has brought a firestorm from congressional leaders.
The government is watching money stampede away, with little idea what to do about it.The cost of an Interior Department program to care for America's wild horses has doubled in the past four years: from $40 million in 2009 to $80 million in 2013. And until a long-term solution can be found, the spending is only going to increase.
The Energy Department paid the builder of its planned weapon-grade plutonium reprocessing plant millions of dollars in taxpayer money for unnecessary employee living expenses, government auditors concluded Monday.The MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility is already projected to run over budget by an estimated $3 billion, dwarfing the $3.7 million in unnecessary expenses found by department Inspector General Gregory Friedman. Still, he criticized the department for not fully monitoring spending by its main contractor, Shaw AREVA MOX Services.