Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Refugees Find Accommodation in Army's Former Heidelberg Home

Military personnel who formerly served in Heidelberg, Germany, might not recognize their old stomping grounds today. In response to Europe's deepening refugee crisis, the Germans have turned Patrick Henry Village—formerly a housing area for Army families—into a shelter for those fleeing chaos in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Patrick Henry Village was a special place for many who lived there, prompting former residents to create at least one website and an unofficial Facebook page to share memories of military childhood in one of the most picturesque areas of Germany. The installation opened in 1947 following World War II; the Army returned it to Germany in 2013. At its peak, 16,000 Americans lived there.

While the current residents of PHV are there under very different circumstances, one hopes they find their new home as congenial as those who lived there in years past. You can glimpse their lives in this photo slideshow that appeared in this Mannheim publication

(Image via nnattalli/Shutterstock.com)

Poll: GOP Would Get Blame for Shutdown

If Congress and the White House find themselves in another budget stalemate this fall and the government shuts down as a result, Republicans would shoulder most of the blame, a new poll indicates.

In the Quinnipiac University poll, 41 percent of respondents said they would blame Republicans in Congress for a shutdown, while 33 percent said they would lay blame on President Obama and Democrats in Congress. Another 17 percent said both sides would share responsibility equally.

For the poll, conducted Aug. 20-25, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,563 registered voters nationwide. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Almost 70 percent of those surveyed said they would oppose shutting down the government over differences in funding for Planned Parenthood. GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has pledged to push a shutdown if necessary to avoid passing any bill that includes  funds for Planned Parenthood. But even among Republicans, a majority in the Quinnipiac poll indicated they would not want to see a shutdown over Planned Parenthood.

The survey also demonstrated Americans’ ongoing dissatisfaction with government at the national level. Only 2 percent of respondents said they were “enthusiastic” about the federal government...

What Does It Take To Get Fired by a Federal Agency?

Imagine if your boss deemed your work “unacceptable” and you received the lowest-possible performance rating. Three years in a row. Most of us would expect—should expect—to lose our jobs. It seems that some managers at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hold a different view.

A jaw-dropping report by the Commerce Department’s inspector general chronicles the findings of an investigation into charges that a patent examiner abused the agency’s telework program. The IG substantiated the allegations and much more. Investigators determined that the employee inflated his work hours by more than 40 percent in 2014 alone—possibly much more, because they gave him the benefit of the doubt where evidence was lacking.

But that wasn’t the most egregious finding. The employee, “Examiner A” in the IG report, had received lousy performance reviews three years running. He also had been warned 9 times about his substandard performance and in 2014, USPTO uncovered 13 separate instances of work-related misconduct known as “work credit abuse,” when an examiner intentionally manipulates production data.The IG found evidence the examiner violated criminal laws and referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of...

Big Hacks, Big Data and the Government of Tomorrow

With the breach of the Office of Personnel Management’s database and theft of personal information about millions of federal employees, issues of cybersecurity and the government’s data management practices have captured the nation’s attention.

That’s why this year we’ve decided to focus squarely on these topics at Nextgov Prime 2015, our annual conference on how advances in information technology are shaping the government of tomorrow.

Nextgov Prime takes place Sept. 9 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Renaissance Downtown D.C. Hotel in Washington.

Confirmed speakers for the event include:

  • Kathryn Sullivan, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Jason Matheny, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
  • David DeVries, principal deputy chief information officer of the Defense Department

The event also will feature Shishu Gupta, deputy chief information officer of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Shane Harris, Daily Beast senior intelligence and national security correspondent and author of @War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex; Nicholas Marinos, assistant director for IT at the Government Accountability Office; and Michael Schoenbaum, senior adviser, Mental Health Services, Epidemiology & Economics, National Institute of Mental Health.

The event provides an opportunity for federal...

Consumer Bureau Couldn't Buy Better Publicity

“The Agency That’s Got Your Back,” screams the headline in the Aug. 24 issue of Time magazine (subscription required). Being read all over the hinterland this week is reporter Massimo Calebresi’s profile of the four-plus-year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “a little-known government watchdog [that] is striking fear into the lending industry.”

That portrait of a regulator as the consumer’s friend is a far cry from much of the coverage given the bureau since it was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. Republicans in Congress have attacked its funding structure, recess-appointed director, alleged discrimination against female and minority employees, and its building renovations.

Many in the lending and credit card industries have warned of a new Washington bully.

“CFPB is the most powerful agency we have seen in Washington since J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI,” said banking lobbyist Richard Hunt in the Time piece.

The article showcases a retired Michigan teacher, a Republican who opposed the bureau’s creation, but who changed her tune last year. Desperately behind on her mortgage, she filed a complaint against a mortgage lender who tacked an $11,599.32 surcharge onto her emergency refinancing. A day after she described...