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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.

How Many National Laboratories Can You Name?

The Energy Department operates national laboratories that house researchers in everything from nuclear fusion projects to biosciences to photon science to environmental science and work on renewable energy. The 17 facilities employ tens of thousands of federal employees and have multi-million dollar allotments in the federal budget, but are largely unknown.

The system of national laboratories grew out of a need for central technological and scientific research centers during World War II. The most famous is probably Los Alamos, thanks to its key role in the Manhattan Project.

Recently, the Energy Department put together a video asking people to name as many National Labs as they can in 60 seconds and putting them up against Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Check it out and learn more about the facilities in the Storify below the video.


Another Scandal, Another Resignation

Katherine Archuleta may have set a federal record by making the trip from “I’m not resigning” to “I quit” in less than 24 hours. 

This suggests that perhaps there was a call from the White House encouraging the Office of Personnel Management director to reconsider her position. Either way, Archuleta’s days were numbered after Thursday’s announcement that the personal (in some cases, very personal) information of more than 21 million people was compromised in the latest OPM data breach. When members of the president’s own party begin to call for the resignation of an agency head, the handwriting is on the wall.

This is a time-honored exercise in accountability, Washington-style. In huge public scandals, somebody has to take the fall.

“We understand that, ultimately, the leader is responsible,” said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, after Archuleta’s announcement. “However, we feel that it is unreasonable to place the sole burden of blame for the data breach on the shoulders of Director Archuleta, who has served for less than two years. The OPM data breaches were years in the making, with many warning signs, and now all federal agencies, the administration, and Congress must...

Happy Belated Independence from Government Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...

How did you spend your Fourth of July? For many people, the day brought cookouts, parades and fireworks displays. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a not-officially-declared but already popular candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, devoted at least part of his holiday to a different endeavor: reinterpreting the Declaration of Independence.

Here’s Walker, on Twitter:

Walker elaborated on the theme on the Red State blog:

The founders did not declare their independence from one big government only to create another. That’s why the 4th of July – not April 15 – is a national holiday. Americans don’t cheer our dependence on government, but rather our independence from it.

Freedom and prosperity aren...

Feds to Festival: Give Us Ice Cream and Air Conditioning

Burning Man, the annual no-holds-barred festival of freedom and artistic expression in the Nevada desert, has a rather interesting relationship with government, and the federal government in particular. And that relationship has gotten a lot more interesting in the past few days.

Burning Man thrives on an ethos of self-governance, but the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has, throughout the event’s history, played a rather substantial role in issuing and enforcing regulations regarding its use of federal lands. This year, BLM officials have apparently decided that they need some creature comforts in order to effectively fulfill their obligations in overseeing Burning Man’s festivities in such a remote location.

Last week, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported that BLM officials had demanded that Burning Man organizers construct a separate compound for 160 agency staffers for the duration of the event. And not just any kind of compound, but one with amenities including air conditioning, refrigerators, couches and flush toilets. Burning Man organizers said building and operating such a facility would cost about $1 million.

Part of the cost would go to cover BLM’s rather extensive list of meal and snack requirements. These include, but are not limited to...

Try GSA for Your Nuptial Needs

June being wedding season, you or a loved one may require a lacy white gown. Why not shop at the General Services Administration?

On Wednesday, the agency’s Atlanta regional office launched a two-week “Down the Aisle Extravaganza” to auction off 3,000 items perfect for nuptials. The must-go inventory includes wedding gowns, fine jewelry, tuxedos, formal dresses and retail furnishings seized by the U.S. Marshals Service.

The items were reportedly from an Alaska bridal shop that was a criminal front and are now part of GSA’s’s Personal Property Management program used by many agencies.

Available individually or in lots are:

  • Wedding gowns with starting bids as low as $46;
  • A 3-carat diamond and platinum engagement ring;
  • Formal wear for men, women and children;
  • A Louis Vuitton travel bag;
  • Veils and tiaras;
  • Wedding bouquets, stationery and decorations;
  • Camera equipment; and,
  • Mannequins and wall racks.

Karen Warrior, regional personal property management director for GSA’s Southeast Sunbelt Region, said the “wedding collection is a great example of the unique treasures we sell for federal agencies everyday on GSAAuctions.gov.”