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NEWS: Feb. 10, 2012

Public Services | The Nation
Holidays Bring No Fiscal Cheer for Postal Service
The U.S. Postal Service lost $3.3 billion in the last three months of 2011, $3 billion more than it lost in the same quarter of 2010--a period that is usually the agency's strongest because of holiday mail. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said the Postal Service must cut about $20 billion in costs by 2015 to become profitable.
>> Government Executive

Public Workforce | The Nation
300 GAO Workers Vote to Unionize
More than 300 professional support employees at the Government Accountability Office voted overwhelmingly to join the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. The union has represented about 2,000 GAO analysts since 2007.
>> Government Executive
Union Slams V.A. Over Outsourcing of Vets' Jobs
The union representing 205,000 Department of Veterans Affairs employees is accusing the V.A. of undermining its own goal of hiring more veterans by expanding outsourcing practices that eliminate many federal jobs currently or historically held by veterans.
>> Federal Computer Week

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Tani Cantil-Sakauye
The Courts | California
Chief Justice Assails Lawmakers
California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye assailed the state Assembly for passing a bill that would strip power from the Judicial Council she controls, prompting opponents to suggest that her tone is inappropriate for the state's top judge. The exchange increases the heat around the deep cuts courts have been asked to take during the state's budget crisis.
>> Sacramento Bee

Border Security | The U.S.-Mexico Border
More Self-Service Border Checkpoints?
As Customs and Border Protection prepares to remotely screen travelers at its first-ever unstaffed checkpoint, in Texas' Big Bend National Park, a former CBP executive says instituting similar stations elsewhere and validating travelers' identification documents with facial-recognition tools may not be too far off.
>> Nextgov
GPO Shifting to Production of Secure Electronic IDs
The State Department's shift to electronic passports has opened a new line of business for the Government Printing Office, which has expanded into the production of Personal Identity Verification ID cards as well as other secure electronic documents for government.
>> Government Computer News

U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus
Spencer Bachus
Ethics | The Nation
House Financial Panel Chairman
Faces Insider-Trading Probe

The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Rep. Spencer Bachus, the Alabama Republican who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, over possible violations of insider-trading laws. Bachus has been a frequent stock-options trader while overseeing financial-services industries.
>> Washington Post
House Approves Lawmakers' Insider-Trading Ban
The House overwhelmingly approved its version of the so-called STOCK Act, which aims primarily at curbing insider trading by lawmakers but also includes a provision to extend disclosure requirements to thousands of federal employees.
>> Government Executive
Under Fire, Wayne County Exec Tightens Ethics Policy
Amid reports that his appointees were pressured to do political work, Wayne County, Mich., Executive Robert Ficano announced an ethics policy prohibiting such pressure and making it harder for departing county employees to immediately take jobs with county vendors.
>> Detroit Free Press
I.G. Clears State Department in Pipeline Review
The State Department's inspector general has found no conflict of interest or improper political influence in the agency's review of the disputed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline project.
>> New York Times

Marines with Nazi logo
Marines with Nazi logo
Military Personnel | Afghanistan
Marine Snipers Used Nazi Logo
Marine Corps scout snipers used the logo of the notorious Nazi SS while in Afghanistan in 2010, the service acknowledged. The logo appeared on a flag in a photograph of the platoon, distributed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, that was taken in a hotly contested area in Helmand province.
>> Military Times

Technology | The Nation
Air Force Suspends Booz Allen Office
The Air Force has suspended Booz Allen Hamilton's San Antonio office from future federal contracts and has proposed its debarment after a former Air Force officer allegedly shared with company colleagues protected proprietary information, including pricing data and labor rates, on an expiring information-technology contract.
>> Federal Times
V.A. Turns to 15 Contractors for Electronic Health Records
The Department of Veterans Affairs is turning to 15 companies on its $12 billion information-technology contract to help develop the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Health Record, an initiative to provide instant electronic access to health and benefits information.
>> Federal Times

Education | The Nation
'No Child' Waivers Raise Issues with Advocates
No Child Left Behind waivers granted to 10 states could allow broad changes in how performance of schools and subgroups are judged. Some advocates question whether the waivers will make it easier for states to ignore lagging student performance, but Obama-administration officials argued that the opposite will prove true.
>> Education Week

Law Enforcement | Chicago
City to Pay Iraq War Protesters $6.2 Million
Chicago reached a $6.2 million settlement with some 850 Iraq war protesters who were wrongfully arrested or detained after a 2003 demonstration that shut down Lake Shore Drive. A federal appeals court ruled last year that the mass arrests were not justified.
>> Chicago Sun-Times

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Northeastern University Master of Public Administration Program

Public Workforce | Howard Risher
Public Pay, Private Pay
and Human Capital

It would be interesting to know how many people have read and understood the recent report from the Congressional Budget Office concluding that total federal-employee compensation exceeds private-sector levels while salaries for highly educated federal workers are below market levels. The report is technically sound, but its broad conclusions cannot be translated into logical changes in the federal pay program. Across-the-board pay cuts or freezes may reduce the federal deficit, but they don't constitute a sound human-capital strategy.
>> Federal Times | More commentaries

Men's room sign
We must differentiate between 'need to have' and 'good to have.'
Miami police union President Armando Aguilar, congratulating city Commissioner Frank Carollo on the birth of his daughter, a 1-year-old Carollo often takes with him to work at City Hall, before calling Carollo's commission-approved proposal to use city bond money to install diaper-changing stations in men's rooms in city facilities a "slap in the face" at a time when officers have faced three straight years of pay cuts
>> Miami Herald | More quotes

Campaign donations by individuals from people affiliated with the military to Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who is the only remaining candidate in the field with military experience, a total that is more than twice as much as has been received by the next-closest recipient of such campaign funds, President Obama
>> Military Times | More data

Conference: "Social Media for Government Communications"
Feb. 13-15, Arlington, Va.

Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education
Program on Leadership, Organizing and Action: Leading Change
Feb. 13-May 18, Cambridge, Mass.

American Society for Public Administration
Webinar: "Leading Across Boundaries to Create Unity of Effect"
Feb. 15, 1 p.m. ET

Cloud/Gov Conference
Feb. 16, Washington, D.C.

Association of Government Accountants
National Leadership Conference
Feb. 16-17, Washington, D.C.

Center for American Progress
Discussion: "Infrastructure: Is Congress on the Right Track?"
Feb. 16, 10-11 a.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

American Enterprise Institute
Discussion: "First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency"
Feb. 17, noon-1:30 p.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

National Association of County and City Health Officials
Public Health Preparedness Summit
Feb. 21-24, Anaheim, Calif.

American Enterprise Institute
Book forum: "The Upside-Down Constitution"
Feb. 21, 4-6 p.m. ET, Washington, D.C.

Conference of Minority Public Administrators
Annual Conference
Feb. 22-26, McAllen, Texas

American Society for Public Administration
Annual Conference
March 2-6, Las Vegas

National Association of Counties
Legislative Conference
March 3, Washington, D.C.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners
National Meeting
March 3-6, New Orleans

Human Capital Institute
Human Capital Summit
March 5-7, Scottsdale, Ariz.

National Association of Attorneys General
Spring Meeting
March 5-7, Washington, D.C.

>> Full events listings