This week on the countdown: —Mark Amtower, host of Amtower Off Center on Federal News Radio 1500AM —Jason Miller, Federal News Radio Executive Editor
The stories we’re counting down:
NUMBER THREE Amtower: talked about the midterm elections and how they will affect the operations of the executive branch. He expects a number of new members to be elected who are unfamiliar with how the government runs.
“The downturn in the economy means at least some good news for federal agencies. In fiscal 2011, federal employees traveling for work will end up paying as much as $10 less per night for hotels in major cities across the country.
“The General Services Administration announced its research showed that per night prices for hotels in most of the 378 most heavily traveled areas around the country will cost less next year, said Jill Denning, GSA’s per diem program manager in the Office of Governmentwide Policy.
“Of these 378 areas, 310 will see decreases, 50 will increase and 18 will remain the same, GSA said.
“Denning said that for 2,600 areas where federal employees travel the least, the average stay will increase to $77 a night.”
“For a long time, Kim Nguyen has felt a growing pressure in the federal information technology marketplace, and there’s been no let-up.
“Pragmatics Inc., where Nguyen is vice president of special programs, has developed into a successful, midsize IT company with annual revenues reaching $145 million. However, it’s stuck between two strong and growing forces in the marketplace: Small businesses and big corporations. He said he fears the effect on his business and other companies that are similar in size, which, experts say, is a key component of a well-balanced market. Nevertheless, experts also foresee little chance of change.”
“The Partnership for Public Service along with the Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation at American University released its annual rankings of the best places to work in the federal government today.
“For the third consecutive time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ranked first and the Government Accountability Office ranked a close second on the list of 32 large agencies. Both agencies held the same positions last year. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA rounded out the top five.
“Since assuming her role as head of the General Services Administration earlier this year, Martha Johnson has fully embraced the agency’s information technology initiatives.
“GSA’s revamped Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies is playing a key role in the Obama administration’s open government initiative, helping federal agencies improve their public-facing websites and build social media capabilities.
“The agency also has taken charge of the government’s migration to cloud-based mobile computing and is acting as a central source of information about software and infrastructure as a service capabilities. But as it gins up these programs, GSA also must continue to compete with individual agencies’ procurement vehicles for business.
“Technology giant Hewlett-Packard will pay a fine of $55 million for violating the False Claims Act.
“The Justice Department announced today that HP wants to settle the case alleging it paid kickbacks, or ‘influencer fees,’ to systems integrators in return for recommendations to agencies to buy their products.
“Justice said in a news release that the settlement also resolves claims that HP’s 2002 contract with the General Services Administration was defectively priced because HP provided incomplete information to GSA contracting officers during contract negotiations.”