- By Garance Franke-Ruta
- May 16, 2013
The Treasury Inspector General report on the IRS mishandling of conservative advocacy group applications for tax exempt status between March 2010 and February 2012 was released Tuesday, and it is a doozy.
The report, conveniently titled "Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review" -- in case you had any question as to its conclusions -- points the finger at "ineffective management" as the cause of the improper selection of groups using the words "Tea Party," "Patriot" and "9/12" for additional review and questioning.
The report fills in some important blanks in our knowledge about how the groups were selected and how their applications were managed. Most intriguing to me is the apparent case of this one guy in an office in Cincinnati who sat on the selected applications for 13 months because he or she was waiting for assistance from the Washington, D.C., office, which took forever to arrive. Talk about your bureaucratic cul-de-sacs!
- By Margot Sanger-Katz
- April 23, 2013
When the automatic spending cuts kicked in for Medicare this month, every doctor saw a 2 percent reduction in reimbursement from the government insurance program. But cancer doctors have made the most noise. A front-page Washington Post story reported that thousands of cancer patients were being turned away by doctors who could no longer afford to treat them. Members of Congress responded quickly, introducing legislation to reverse the cancer reimbursement cuts and asking the Health and Human Services Department to reinterpret the sequester law to exempt oncologists. “This particular cut itself is so devastating to cancer patients that this is one that we just have to see our way to improving and fixing,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., who sponsored the bill to reverse the cancer cuts. (The doctors are unlikely to find an ally in President Obama, whose budget last week recommended even deeper cuts to their reimbursement.)
Partly, this is political theater. While some oncologists warn that patients will lose access to lifesaving care, others admit they’ll simply absorb the cuts and keep treating their ailing charges. Their median compensation was $430,695 in 2011, according to the Medical Group Management Association. But the situation also ...
- By Ian Kullgren
- April 4, 2013
Defense Department officials are pushing forward with an array of green energy initiatives, but saving the environment isn’t what’s driving their interest. Instead, they’re seeking to save lives and dollars.
Defense officials are beginning to test solar-powered devices for troops in Afghanistan with the hope of reducing the number of fuel convoys, which are often targets of insurgent attacks.
Unlike previous wars, the conflict in Afghanistan does not have a clear battlefront. Instead, isolated hubs of American soldiers are connect by a wiry web of supply roads – often through unsecured lands where enemies attack, killing soldiers and cutting off fuel and water supplies.
From 2003 to 2007, more than 3,000 American troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on resupply missions, according to an Army report.
“You have a quick reaction force that every day almost winds up in a fight because they’ve got to protect the convoy,” former Army Capt. Mike Breen, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now is executive director of the Center for National Policy, said. “You’re doing all of these incredibly inefficient things, and it’s costing you lives and force structure.”
To cut back on dangerous fuel ...
- By Ian Kullgren
- March 29, 2013
Their sights might be lowered, but they haven’t surrendered.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Supreme Court arguments that resulted in the Affordable Care Act being upheld, and Republicans are re-tailoring their battle plan to fit the landscape.
Instead of pushing for a straightforward repeal by Congress -- which would never get by the Democratic-controlled Senate, let alone President Obama -- leaders are using the budgeting process to mount an attack against the agencies charged with executing the overhaul.
It’s a simple theory: If you can’t get rid of the law, sever its life source.
The largest changes included in the Affordable Care Act take effect next year -- most notably expanding Medicaid coverage to people whose income is lower than 133 percent of the poverty level -- giving Republicans who control the House the chance to snip provisions line-by-line during budget negotiations.
On March 21, the House passed a budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would remove funding for the law instead of trying to remove it from the books altogether.
But it’s not that simple, experts say. Such a plan might wound Obama’s landmark achievement, but would leave its vital organs intact.
“It would ...
- By Clement Christensen
- March 28, 2013
The “do more with less” mantra is nothing new to government employees. While there is often a cry for less government, the truth is that most Americans want government that costs less, not government that does less. So government employees have now gone over two years without pay increases and had to endure numerous program cuts in the name of fiscal responsibility. While “doing more with less” may seem admirable, it may actually be harming employee productivity and driving a lower return on investment of taxpayer dollars.
Sometimes the best way to tell a story is by starting at the end. This story ends with productivity growth rates that have been declining for the past decade (see below.) While growth rates are still technically growing, a 0.3 percent productivity growth rate for 2012 is still cause for concern. New internet based collaboration technologies, flexible schedules, mobile devices, cloud computing and much more should be driving greater productivity growth. Yet here we are, almost five years into a recession with long-term productivity decreases.
In the past few days, we’ve explained the link between productivity and employee engagement. Simply put, engaged employees are vital to organizational success because they drive ...