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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.
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Tab for IRS Probe Is Estimated at $18 Million So Far

Without fanfare, Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen at a House hearing this month let it drop that the estimated cost of IRS compliance with the document demands of multiple congressional committees has reached a new high: $18 million. 

That figure—up from $7.9 million in February 2013—includes $10 million for 250 employees who, as of June 15, had logged 120,000 hours screening documents and emails from 83 IRS staff members, according to Koskinen’s mid-June letter to committee leaders in both chambers. An additional $6 million to $8 million has been spent on adjustments to information technology equipment and software. 

The $18 million was cited on Monday in a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who objected to a move by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to summon Koskinen to another hearing on IRS “stonewalling,” set for Wednesday. “Our committee has now held 10 hearings on this issue,” Cummings said. “It is time to stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and start focusing on reforms to help our government work more effectively and efficiently for the American people.”  

Costs notwithstanding, Issa and other Republicans show no signs of easing ...

When Nixon Nailed the SecDef

Now we know how President Richard Nixon really viewed the role of secretary of Defense, thanks to riveting excerpts of Oval Office conversations (those tapes again!) in the August issue of Vanity Fair.

In April 1972, as the U.S. was stepping up the air campaign against the North Vietnamese communists, Nixon was growing increasingly frustrated with what he perceived as the military's slow response to the requirements of the day, both in Indochina and Washington. When a briefing he ordered for 7 a.m. on April 3 wasn't delivered until 8:30 a.m., the earliest Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird himself could get to the White House (presumably Laird was busy running the war), Nixon wasn't having it.

Later that day, Nixon shared his frustrations with Thomas Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Nixon: I'm not going to have that kind of crap anymore. From now on, that man is to have his ass over here in this office at seven o-clock every morning. Is that clear? 

Moorer: Yes, sir. He'll be here. 

Nixon went on to criticize the air campaign, questioning the number of sorties the Air Force was ...

Lawsuit Alleges DEA Will Trade Crack For Help on Investigations

The Drug Enforcement Administration has seen its share of scandals, but a lawsuit filed this week may be one of the more shocking.

According to a report by the Associated Press, a lawsuit alleges that DEA agents paid an addict in crack cocaine for his assistance with an undercover operation in 2011. According to court papers filed this week, Aaron Romero said he was approached by agents to help with the New Mexico-based "Operation Smack City." In exchange for his working with the agents, Romero said he received portions of the drugs confiscated by five DEA agents working on the case.

A recovering addict at the time of the investigation, Romero's lawsuit says his addiction was reignited from his use aided by the five agents who supplied him with the drugs. The lawsuit is seeking $8.5 million in damages for emotional and physical harm. Romero's lawyer says he is now drug free.

"The United States government and the defendants affirmatively and intentionally established a pattern of distribution of crack cocaine to (Romero) in order to utilize his addiction to crack cocaine to further the investigation and to 'stack drug related charges' against him," the suit reads.

The ...

For Some Feds, Shutdown Was Baby-Making Time

Last fall, federal employees experienced growing anxiety as a government shutdown loomed, and then became a reality on Oct. 1.

Nine months later, it looks like some feds found a (re)productive way to deal with the situation.

Washington news station WNEW reports that there may be something of a baby boomlet in the D.C. area coinciding with the shutdown. At Arlington’s Virginia Hospital Center, 100 more babies were born in the last three months than in the same period in 2013. Sibley Hospital in Washington has seen three more births per day than usual this month.

That’s not exactly scientific proof that feds were working on making babies while they weren’t allowed to work, but it looks like some of them made good use of their free time.

(Image via Nadezda Cruzova/Shutterstock.com)

An Emmy for Obama?

He's already got the Nobel Peace Prize and two Grammys, but will Barack Obama add an Emmy to his list of accomplishments?

Obama's March appearance on the Funny or Die Web series "Between Two Ferns" was nominated Thursday for an Emmy in the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program category. The acclaimed Zach Galifianakis's series is up against contenders like the Super Bowl halftime show and Adult Swim's surreal comedy "Children's Hospital."

Obama got rave reviews for the six-and-a-half-minute episode. He verbally sparred with Galifianakis and took Galifianakis' barbs -- including saying HealthCare.gov is "that thing that doesn't work" and calling the president "a nerd" -- with good humor. Our sibling site The Atlantic asked has "there ever been a president so adept at appearing on comedy shows?", The New Yorker called the appearance a "win," and Gawker endorsed it by saying "The whole thing is worth watching."

Technically, Obama isn't nominated for his appearance on the show. Executive producers of the show are the ones nominated and would receive the actual statuette in the case of a "Between Two Ferns" win. It is unclear if the presentation of the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program ...