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CRS — Social Media in the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions (April 2, 2015)

April 16, 2015 Comments off

Social Media in the House of Representatives: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recently, the number of Member offices adopting social media as an official communications tool has increased. With the increased use of social media accounts for official representational duties, the House has adopted policies and regulations regarding the creation, content, and use of third-party social media services. This report answers several questions about the regulation of social media accounts in the House of Representatives.

• How does the House define social media?
• How are social media accounts regulated in the House?
• What makes a social media account an official resource?
• Can Members use official funds for social media?
• Is some content prohibited on official social media accounts?
• Do the mass communications regulations apply to social media?

IRS Tax Delinquency Report Shows Federal Employees Owe $1 Billion

March 27, 2015 Comments off

IRS Tax Delinquency Report Shows Federal Employees Owe $1 Billion
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today released its 2014 tax delinquency report, which identifies the total number of federal civilian employees who are tax-delinquent and the total amount owed in past-due taxes. Tomorrow, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) will hold a mark-up to examine eight bills including the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015 [H.R. 1563], which was introduced in the House this week.

Oversight Committee Releases 348 Page Report on Legislative, Oversight Accomplishments

January 9, 2015 Comments off

Oversight Committee Releases 348 Page Report on Legislative, Oversight Accomplishments
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Legislative Work

Through its efforts, the Committee has seen 23 bills enacted into law and 74 bills passed by the House between 2011 and 2014. Notably, the bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) was signed into law by the President on May 9, 2014 (p. 35). The DATA Act “requires Federal agencies to publicly report all of their obligations and expenditures–encompassing both external spending, such as grants, loans, and contracts, and internal spending on salaries, supplies, and facilities.” By putting spending information online in an easily searchable format, the DATA Act increases transparency and accountability of federal spending.

On December 19, 2014, the President also signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (p. 40). FITARA improves federal IT acquisition, which costs taxpayers nearly $80 billion a year, by providing “common-sense good governance reforms to assist the government in its adoption and employment of critical IT resources.”

Oversight Work

Between 2011 and 2014, the Committee “held more than 350 full and subcommittee hearings, sent over 2,000 letters requesting information from government agencies, officials and interested parties, issued over 100 subpoenas compelling the production of documents, and published nearly 60 oversight and investigative staff reports.” The Committee has investigated the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, the Administration’s failed rollout of ObamaCare and its lack of transparency, the Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious, and the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.

The Committee staff worked tirelessly in each investigation, spending countless hours reviewing documents and materials to uncover answers owed to the American people. For instance, in the IRS targeting scandal, the Committee reviewed millions of pages of documents from the IRS, Treasury Department, and other agencies and conducted 52 transcribed interviews that amounted to 309 hours of testimony (p. 69). The Committee’s investigation found that 80 percent of the delayed requests for tax-exempt status were for conservative non-profit groups, and that not a single “Tea Party” group was approved by the IRS between February 2010 and May 2013.

The Committee has also worked to root out waste, fraud, and abuse by the federal government with oversight of wasteful federal stimulus spending, unsuccessful federal IT acquisitions, abuses at federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, agency obstruction of Inspectors General, and whistleblower protections. The District of Columbia has also been a priority for Chairman Issa, who has worked closely with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, “to pass federal legislation to address the needs of the city, including bills to promote economic development and to ensure fiscal stability (p. 278).”

Issa Releases Report on IRS Targeting as 113th Congress Concludes

December 23, 2014 Comments off

Issa Releases Report on IRS Targeting as 113th Congress Concludes
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today released a new staff report, “The Internal Revenue Service’s Targeting of Conservative Tax-Exempt Applicants: Report of Findings for the 113th Congress.” The report represents findings from the review of over 1.3 million pages of documents and 52 transcribed interviews with IRS, Treasury, and Justice Department employees.

The report’s conclusion reads in part:

Conservative organizations were not just singled out because of their political beliefs—they were targeted by IRS officials and employees who expressed a general loathing toward them even while begrudgingly admitting that those organizations were in compliance with the only thing the IRS should care about: the federal tax code. Documents and interviews show IRS officials failed to limit their professional judgments to enforcing the tax code and instead inserted their own beliefs and judgments into federal matters to influence outcomes and decisions. One IRS agent wrote about an organization applying for 501(c)(4) status that donated to other organizations that engaged in political activity, “I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4).” Another agent responded, “This sounds like a bad org . . . This org gives me an icky feeling.”

Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Key Findings:

  • All of the 48 ALJ focused reviews conducted by SSA and reviewed by Committee staff showed numerous deficiencies in ALJ decision-making and several disturbing patterns. ALJs conducted few or inadequate hearings, misused vocational experts, failed to properly assess work ability and relied too heavily on medical briefs prepared by claimants’ paid representatives. (p. 13)
  • SSA continues to allow ALJs to decide cases even when they demonstrate gross incompetence or negligence in handling their responsibilities. In several cases, SSA did not inform the ALJ about the negative focused review for over eight months after the review was completed. (p. 28)
  • SSA was singularly focused on churning out a large volume of dispositions, which led to inappropriate benefit awards. In 2007, the agency directed ALJs to decide 500 to 700 decisions each year, without conducting any study to determine how long it takes ALJs to evaluate cases and issue informed decisions.
  • SSA encouraged ALJs to take shortcuts in deciding cases to increase the amount of decisions issued each year. The agency promoted on-the-record decisions, which do not require a hearing, and bench decisions, which do not require a written opinion, to increase the number of decisions issued.

Report: FDIC Senior Officials Acted on Personal Animus against Legal Businesses (Payday Lenders)

December 12, 2014 Comments off

Report: FDIC Senior Officials Acted on Personal Animus against Legal Businesses
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today released a new report, “Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) Involvement in ‘Operation Choke Point’,” detailing the agency’s close relationship with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to effectively target legal businesses the administration deemed morally objectionable. Documents produced to the Committee reveal that the DOJ actively partnered with the FDIC in the prosecution of Operation Choke Point. FDIC’s participation in Operation Choke Point included requests for information about the investigation, discussions of legal theories and the application of banking laws, and the review of documents involving FDIC-supervised institutions obtained by DOJ in the course of its investigation. FDIC also originated the list of “high risk” industries included in the DOJ subpoenas. Documents provided to the Committee also show that senior leadership at the FDIC opposed certain industries on purely moral grounds.

Documents produced to the Committee reveal that senior FDIC policymakers oppose payday lending on personal grounds, and attempted to use FDIC’s supervisory authority to prohibit the practice. Personal animus towards payday lending is apparent throughout the documents produced to the Committee. Emails reveal that FDIC’s senior-most bank examiners “literally cannot stand payday,” and effectively ordered banks to terminate all relationships with the industry.

Gym Memberships, Gift Cards, and Hair Salons: Examining the Misuse of Government-Supplied Credit Cards (Hearing)

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Gym Memberships, Gift Cards, and Hair Salons: Examining the Misuse of Government-Supplied Credit Cards
Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

Witness and Testimony Documents
Ms. Anne Richards
Assistant Inspector General for Audits
Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ms. Janet Kasper
Director, Contracts and Assistance Agreement Audits,
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Mr. Elliot Lewis
Assistant Inspector General for Audits
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor

Mr. John Lyle
Deputy Assistant Secretary (Contracting)
U.S. Air Force

Mr. H.L. Larry
Deputy Director of Air Force Services
U.S. Air Force

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