- By Matt Vasilogambros
- May 15, 2013
While the Justice Department has started an investigation into whether the Internal Revenue Service broke any laws by targeting conservative groups for heightened scrutiny, critics of the Obama administration will likely continue their call for a special counsel.
Already, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have written a letter to President Obama calling for a special counsel. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also said Tuesday that a special counsel might be needed.
“They overstepped in a way people can identify with,” McConnell said. “Everybody knows the power of the IRS, and it’s about time they, in effect, got caught in a way that the American public fully understands.”
For those with hazy memories of Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr, it's worth a reminder of how all this works.
So how does a special counsel get named?
If the attorney general suspects criminal wrongdoing within the federal government, he or she can assign a special counsel to lead the investigation. The appointment does not need congressional approval, just notification to the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. The special counsel can be dismissed by the attorney general in extraordinary circumstances ...
- By Dr. Francis Collins
- May 15, 2013
Wouldn’t it be instructive if we could see the effect of a genetic mutation in real time, as the gene was misbehaving? Well, that’s one of the perks of using the zebrafish—a tiny, striped, transparent fish.
Just last month, an international team of scientists—funded in part by NIH—published the entire genetic code of the zebrafish. This is a vital resource for understanding human health and disease. How does the genetic blueprint of a fish help us or accelerate drug discovery? Well, it turns out that more than 75 percent of the genes that have been implicated in human diseases have counterparts in the zebrafish. So, if we discover a mutation in a human, we can make the corresponding mutation in the zebrafish gene—and often get a pretty good idea of how the gene works, how the mutation causes havoc, and how it causes disease in humans. We can even use the zebrafish to test potential drug candidates, to see whether they can alter or fix the symptoms before moving on to mice or humans.
A second paper in the same issue of Nature describes how another team has created mutations in 38 percent of ...
- By Michael Catalini
- May 15, 2013
The IRS is about to become Washington’s favorite political target as hearings get under way about its targeting of conservative non-profit groups.
With the White House and lawmakers expressing outrage, a key report from the agency’s inspector general paints an unflattering view of the goings-on within the IRS. The report’s title gives some indication: “Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review.” Today Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, where he’s expected to receive questions about what he knew about the malfeasance.
After going through the report, we identified the four most politically significant details from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s report.
1. Officials knew the IRS was targeting conservatives for nearly two years.
IRS officials found out that tea party groups were being targeted by agency staffers in 2011, months before the commissioner testified before Congress. In August 2010, the IRS unit in Cincinnati set up what it called a “Be on the Look Out” listing known as a “BOLO,” which singled out political groups applying for tax-exempt status using the words “tea party,” “Patriots” and “9/12 Project” as criteria.
“The criteria developed by the ...
- By EIG Staff
- May 14, 2013
Some might have questioned whether the concept of “excellence” in government was even worth talking about this year—with the sequester, furloughs and the potential for lean budgets on the horizon. But a lineup of the government’s best and brightest—including approximately
800 900 attendees—showed that the pursuit of excellence was alive and well at this year’s Excellence in Government conference.
With sessions covering everything from leveraging data for better decision-making to building mission-motivated teams, keynotes took federal leaders through 20 years of reform efforts and challenged them to continue building the government of tomorrow.
- Vice President Al Gore returning to reflect on the reform movement he helped create
- Cass Sunstein’s pitch for a simplified, less complex government
- Addresses from Beth McGrath, Deputy Chief Management Officer at the Department of Defense, Dan Tangherlini, Acting Administrator of GSA and Lt. Gen. John Wissler of the United States Marine Corps
- A closing address from Seth Kahan, author of Getting Innovation Right
- And countless opportunities for government leaders to come together and discuss shared learning and innovative ways of improving the business of government.
With an enthusiastic crowd taking to Twitter, using the hashtags #EIG2013 and #BeExcellent ...
- By Megan Garber
- May 14, 2013
The answers were swift and sharp and unsurprising. "Dude, he's a frigging astronaut!" one replied. "Um, he's an astronaut?" another offered. "What else do you need?" Someone else explained things with a little more detail: "He's inspiring a generation of kids (my kids!) to grow up to be scientists & astronauts and not the Kardashians."
Chris Hadfield -- nom de tweet: @cmdr_hadfield -- has been doing more than inspiring people, though. He has also been entertaining them. And delighting them. He has chatted with Captain Kirk. He has covered Bowie. He has written his own music, and performed it. He has publicly celebrated Valentine's Day, and Easter, and St. Patrick's Day, and April Fool's. He has done a mind-boggling number of live chats and Q&As and video explainers. He has led Canada in a national sing-along. And all of these things have shared a remarkable predicate: They have been done, you know, from space. Hadfield has kept a running dialogue with Earth, documenting not just the numinous -- those amazing views! -- but also the mundane: the food. The fun. The exercise. The sleep ...