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NEWS: Dec. 14, 2011
Governmental Operations | The Nation
Tax Fight Raises Fears of Federal Shutdown
Raising the specter of a possible federal-government shutdown this weekend, the House passed a controversial Republican version of a payroll-tax-cut extension that would freeze pay for civilian federal workers for another year and reduce the government workforce.
>> Washington Post
Postal Service Puts Closures on Hold
The U.S. Postal Service bowed to congressional pressure and agreed to halt closings and consolidations of post offices and mail-processing plants until mid-May while a rescue package is debated.
>> Federal Times

Houston Port Authority CEO Alec Dreyer
Alec Dreyer
Public Officials | Houston
Citing Politics, Port CEO Quits
Port of Houston Authority CEO Alec Dreyer announced he will leave his post as soon as a replacement is found, saying he feels stymied by the political nature of the job. His announcement came days after being cleared of accusations that he misused the port's boat and then altered records to conceal the action.
>> Houston Chronicle
Technology Exec to Lead Missouri Universities
Once again, the University of Missouri System has dipped into the business world for its president, choosing Timothy M. Wolfe, a graduate of the university's business school who brings to the post a deep background in information technology.
>> Kansas City Star
FCC's Chief of Staff Resigns
Eddie Lazarus, chief of staff of the Federal Communications Commission, announced his resignation, ending a tenure marked by brutal battles over Internet-access rules and the reviews of two industry-altering telecommunications mergers.
>> Washington Post

Spending | The Nation
Report: Medicaid Eating More of State Budgets
Medicaid has steadily eaten up a growing share of state budgets over the past three years, while education has been getting a smaller slice of the pie, according to a new analysis of state spending by the National Association of State Budget Officers.
>> New York Times
California Governor Cuts Another $1 Billion
California Gov. Jerry Brown announced nearly $1 billion in new state budget cuts, slashing spending on higher education and eliminating funding for free school-bus service but avoiding the deeper reductions to public schools that many had feared.
>> Los Angeles Times
Oregon Governor Freezes Non-Essential Hiring
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered state agencies to suspend all but essential hiring after the co-chairmen of the legislature's budget committee asked the governor to tell agencies to stop "non-critical" spending until the state's next economic forecast.
>> The Oregonian
Detroit City Council Rejects Cutting Its Own Budget
Detroit city council members rejected a proposal to slash the council's budget by 30 percent, saying they've already made deep cuts and would not agree to more simply to score "political points."
>> Detroit News
Study: Illinois Tuition Program May Need Bailout
Illinois' financially tanking prepaid-college-tuition program could require a $1.6 billion bailout from the state to remain solvent during the next 25 years, according to a new study.
>> Chicago Sun-Times

Dollar coin
Currency | The Nation
Mint Suspends Production
of a Coin 'Nobody Wants'

With enough $1 coins sitting in Federal Reserve vaults to meet demand for a decade, the U.S. Mint is suspending their production. "Nobody wants them," Vice President Joe Biden said. More than 40 percent of the dollar coins that are minted are returned to the government unwanted.
>> Wall Street Journal

Health Care | California
Audit: State's Managed-Care Oversight Inadequate
State health officials have failed to adequately or promptly review the finances of publicly funded managed-care plans responsible for serving millions of those served by California's version of Medicaid, according to a report by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle.
>> Los Angeles Times

Highway Safety | The Nation
NTSB: All States Should Ban Drivers' Cellphone Use
The National Transportation Safety Board called for all states to ban drivers' use of cellphones and other personal electronic devices that don't support the task of driving, such as GPS navigation. The board also called for the ban on use of hands-free calling technology.
>> Government Technology

Attorney General Eric Holder
Eric Holder
Voting | The Nation
A.G. Signals Challenges
to States' New Voting Curbs

U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. denounced recent state laws that restrict voting, such as those requiring voters to show photo identification, and hinted that the Justice Department would challenge some of them. Holder also proposed that the federal government automatically register all citizens to vote.
>> Los Angeles Times

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DATAPOINT
28.5%
Percentage of those hired by the federal government in fiscal 2011 who were military veterans, up from 25.6 percent in 2010 and the highest proportion in two decades, according to preliminary data from the Office of Personnel Management
>> Federal Times | More data

VIEWPOINT
Defense
A Pentagon We Can Afford
The failure of the "supercommittee" to reach a deficit agreement is supposed to trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts over the next decade, nearly $500 billion of that from the basic defense budget. If you listen to defense-industry lobbyists, hawks in Congress and the Pentagon, the sky is falling, and with it American security. It isn't. If defense spending is wrestled back into rationality, it will be progress. There is room to cut, if it is done with prudence and innovation.
>> New York Times | More commentaries

Marines board a V-22 Osprey
Marines board a V-22 Osprey
QUOTABLE
Don't bet against the Marines as budget warriors.
Aviation analyst Richard L. Aboulafia, on the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey, a $70 million helicopter-airplane hybrid that is used for battlefield assaults in Afghanistan and has survived repeated efforts to kill it despite safety problems during testing, years of delays, ballooning costs and tough questions about the aircraft's utility
>> New York Times | More quotes

UPCOMING
Governing magazine
Online forum: "Innovation, Mobility and Government"
Today, 2 p.m. ET

American Enterprise Institute and Partnership for American Recovery
Discussion: "Creating American Jobs Through Immigration Reform"
Dec. 15, 10-11:30 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

Brookings Institution
Discussion: "Controlling Medicare Costs: Is Premium Support the Answer?"
Dec. 16, 10-11:30 a.m., Washington, D.C.

Brookings Institution
Discussion: "Combating Botnets: Strengthening Cybersecurity Through Stakeholder Coordination"
Dec. 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.

GovInfoSecurity.com
Webinar: "Information Security for Management: What Your Senior Leaders Need to Know"
Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET

GovInfoSecurity.com
Webinar: "Pandemic Planning & Response Techniques"
Jan. 11, 10 a.m. ET

National Emergency Management Association
Emergency Management Policy & Leadership Forum
Jan. 17-19, New Orleans

U.S. Conference of Mayors
Winter Meeting
Jan. 18-20, Washington, D.C.

National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, Association of Government Accountants and Association of Local Government Auditors
Webcast: "Workplace Ethics: Understanding Your Responsibilities"
Jan. 18, 2 p.m. ET

>> Full events listings