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Pentagon buries internal study finding $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

This is the kind of news that makes the public distrust government (in this case rightly, but just as frequently that distrust is misplaced). It’s also the kind of news item that I like because there’s context AND there’s a copy of the internal study that I can archive, catalog and give access to via our library catalog.

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.

via Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste – The Washington Post.

U.S. Budget FY 2017 coming Feb 9, 2016

[press release]

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be releasing President Barack Obama’s Budget for the U.S. Government, FY 2017. Printed copies will be available through GPO’s retail and online bookstore. The Budget will also be available as a mobile web app and electronically on govinfo.gov

WHEN:
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
11:00 am EST

Note: The Historical Tables will be available only in digital format on govinfo.gov and OMB’s website www.budget.gov

complete press release [PDF]

Census Bureau to drop 3-Year estimates from American Community Survey (ACS)

It seems as if the Census bureau is dying a slow death of a thousand cuts. This is just the latest cut (and by the way, did anyone notice that this Census press release actually comes from the site “content.govdelivery.com”?!). This seems like a good time to remind folks to read our earlier response to Census budget cuts, “Fear, uncertainty, or doubt? Why the Census and ACS are critical to a well-functioning democracy.”

As a result of tight budgetary considerations, the U.S. Census Bureau has proposed permanently discontinuing a statistical product from the American Community Survey beginning in fiscal year 2016. The product, often called the “3-year estimates,” combines three years of data collection into a three-year rolling average and is available for communities with populations of 20,000 or more.

Although the Census Bureau would discontinue this product, every community in the nation will continue to receive a detailed statistical portrait of its social, economic, housing and demographic characteristics through other American Community Survey products. Specifically, the Census Bureau will continue producing annual estimates for communities of 65,000 or more, and communities of all sizes, including the nation’s smallest, will continue to receive updated five-year rolling averages each year.

The Census Bureau has proposed dropping the three-year product in order to prioritize funding for activities that enhance the quality of the entire data set and enhance the experience for the survey respondent. For example, these activities include additional training for field representatives, continued review of the survey questions and the way they are asked, and expanded outreach and partnership with stakeholders.

Spending plans for fiscal year 2015 are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. For more information about the Census Bureau’s fiscal year 2016 budget, please visit OMB’s site.

via Census Bureau Statement on American Community Survey 3-Year Statistical Product.

Government Shutdown: Status of federal websites

Update #2 10pm PST 10/2/13 : Our friends over at the Sunlight Foundation have an interesting post, “What Happens to .gov in a Shutdown?” They explained the .gov shutdown matrix:

…drawn on an agency-by-agency basis, and the specific determination is based on the importance of the function and how illegal ceasing to do it might be. But aside from some obvious ones–national parks would be closed; the CO2 scrubber on the International Space Station would stay plugged in–it’ll be agency leadership that makes the determinations.

(and love the unix joke!)

UPDATE #1 3pm PST 10/2/13: Arstechnica, checked 56 .gov sites and found 10 that went dark. See “Shutdown of US government websites appears bafflingly arbitrary.”

A bunch of federal websites will shut down with the government, By Andrea Peterson, Washington Post, Published: September 30 at 5:28 pm.

Also: The Government Printing Office (GPO) reports: ” GPO will not be updating gpo.gov, FDLP.gov, the Catalog of Government Publications, Ben’s Guide, or be responding to askGPO questions until funding is restored. The Laurel warehouse will be closed so there will be no shipments to depository libraries.

Congressional materials will continue to be processed and posted to FDsys. Federal Register services on FDsys will be limited to documents that protect life and property. The remaining collections on FDsys will not be updated and will resume after funding is restored.”

Large and small examples of the sequester’s effect on the US

Rachel Maddow had some examples of how the sequester — or as she so elegantly put it, the “nearly universally agreed-upon to be stupid self-inflicted problem we made for ourselves in Washington” — has negatively effected the US, with last friday being a mandatory furlough day for 115,000 federal employees. Maddow pointed out that this was the “largest govt shutdown since the ’90s.”


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