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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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Trump: The Federal Government Should Do These Three Things. Or Maybe Just One.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has expressed little confidence in the federal government’s ability to “make America great again,” and backed steep spending cuts in such agencies as the Education Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. But he wants to dramatically boost the Defense Department and seems to be fond of certain other agencies, such as the General Services Administration and the Border Patrol.

So what exactly does Trump think the federal government should prioritize? That subject came up in Trump’s CNN town hall Tuesday night from Milwaukee. In response to a question from an Army retiree and in follow-up queries from host Anderson Cooper, Trump expounded on government’s role. But his statements didn’t exactly square with his previous sentiments.

It’s worth reading the full exchange:

QUESTION:  In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?

TRUMP:  Well, the greatest function of all by far is security for our nation.  I would also say health care, I would also say education.  I mean, there are many, many things, but I would say the top three are security, security, security.

We have to have security for our...

The Oregon Occupiers Left Behind Quite a Mess

The total bill is still being determined for the six-week occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. But based on photos the Fish and Wildlife Service released of the mess the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom group left behind, the cleanup portion alone could be significant.

USFWS published photographs on its Flickr account Thursday taken after the occupiers left the facility in February. The scene was documented for the FBI for the purposes of its the 26-person criminal conspiracy case. Loose tobacco sits on boxes next to bent cigarettes in one photograph, a hole appears to be punched in a wall in another and a drench was dug on the grounds for the occupiers to defecate and urinate into.

The occupation captivated many, angered Oregon community leaders and forced feds to take costly paid leave. Agency officials told The Guardian this week that the cost of the occupation is currently at $6 million and may rise.

Check out the USFWS slideshow below.

Damage at Malheur NWR

Lawmaker Puts Federal Zombies on Notice

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is a zombie hunter.

At least, she’s making full use of the zombie metaphor to push legislation to force Congress to reauthorize federal programs or watch them disappear into the sunset.

Late last week, McMorris Rodgers posted this video on YouTube:

It features spooky music and visuals, and a creepy voiceover:

Here in Washington, D.C. there are zombies living amongst us. The undead continuing to live on long after they were supposed to have vanished from this earth. These zombies are government programs. They’re well past their expiration date, yet Congress still lets them feast on government cash.

McMorris Rodgers borrowed the zombie concept (and, it appears, the voiceover, albeit in an altered state) from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who used the metaphor to characterize unauthorized federal programs in a report last month.

It’s true that billions of dollars in federal spending flows through agencies and programs that haven’t been reauthorized by Congress in years -- decades, in some instances. That includes operations as large as the National Weather Service and the Federal Election Commission.

In a report last year called America’s Most Wasted, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., identified almost...

At Republican Debate, Firing Feds Takes Center Stage

The Republican presidential field has narrowed down to four candidates, but the remaining contenders' rhetoric against federal employees has only ramped up.

In yet another debate -- the 12th such Republican event of the 2016 cycle -- the two remaining senators both took shots at the federal workforce, promising to fire the employees they deem incompetent.

For Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who trails frontrunner Donald Trump in the current delegate count, the weeding out process will be personal.

“Here's my philosophy,” Cruz explained, “the less government, the more freedom. The fewer bureaucrats, the more prosperity. And there are bureaucrats in Washington right now who are killing jobs and I'll tell you, I know who they are. I will find them and I will fire them.”

The Merit Systems Protection Board might have something to say about Cruz’s proposed wholesale firings over those he deems guilty of “killing jobs,” but that did not stop the senator from issuing the threat. This was not the first time Cruz has put federal workers on notice in his presidential campaign; the senator’s “five for freedom” plan would eliminate several federal agencies and offices, affecting at least 150,000 employees.

Sen. Marco Rubio...

The One Federal Agency Donald Trump Loves

It’s no secret that Donald Trump is not a fan of many federal agencies. He’s called the management of the Veterans Affairs Department “ absolutely unacceptable,” singled out the Education Department and Environmental Protection Agency as candidates for major cuts, and said he sees waste, fraud and abuse “all over the place” in federal operations.

But there’s one agency that Trump has repeatedly lauded: the General Services Administration.

The reason? It has to do, not surprisingly, with real estate -- specifically, with GSA picking Trump to renovate the Old Post Office Building in downtown Washington and turn it into a luxury hotel. Last month, Trump’s organization announced that the hotel would open in September, two years ahead of schedule. “It was an honor to have dealt with the professionals at the General Services Administration,” Trump said in announcing the opening. “It was their total passion and hard work that helped bring this unrivaled project to fruition.”

Trump sang the praises of GSA again Thursday at a rally in Portland, Maine. In touting his company’s work with GSA on the Old Post Office project -- which he characterized as “just about the hottest job that they’ve ever put...