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News briefs: Week of Oct. 21

Oct. 20, 2013 - 11:35AM   |  
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HHS IG to look into health reform fraud safeguards

The legislation that ended the government shutdown Wednesday night also directed the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department to look into fraud safeguards under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The legislation directs the IG to report to Congress on how effective safeguards are to prevent inaccurate or fraudulent enrollments in the health plans offered through the new American Health Benefit Exchange.

The IG has until July 1 to submit the report.

Donald White, HHS IG spokesman, said the IG is reviewing the statute.

Union: Shutdown took financial toll on workers

Many federal employees ran into financial difficulties because of the partial government shutdown, an informal poll by the National Treasury Employees Union indicates.

Of more than 400 NTEU members who responded to an email survey while the shutdown was continuing, 72 percent said they had gone deeper into debt, 70 percent said they were having difficulty making ends meet and 48 percent said they were postponing medical treatment to save money, the union said in a news release last week.

Of those who responded to the unscientific poll, more than 84 percent said they were furloughed because of the shutdown.

As is true for all federal employees sent home during the 16-day government closure, they will receive back pay under the stop-gap spending bill approved last week.

DISA program executive for communications retires

The Defense Information Systems Agency has big shoes to fill following the retirement last month of its program executive officer for communications.

In addition to his role as PEO for communications, Bruce Bennett also served as the deputy chief technology officer for the Network Services Directorate and chief engineer of the department’s massive network that provides voice, video and data, now called the Department of Defense Information Network.

Bennett retired Sept. 26.

Martin Gross is serving as acting director of PEO for communications, according to DISA.

Bennett is credited with shaping current transport capabilities for DoD’s network, which enable network traffic to flow efficiently and securely, and for his role in the Defense Information System Network Technology Refresh.

That includes the planning, purchasing and implementation of replacement components for DoD’s network and the systems it supports.

Poll: Two-thirds of voters opposed shutdown

Almost two-thirds of registered voters opposed the partial government shutdown that ended last week, according to a poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

Of the 824 voters surveyed Oct. 11-12, as the shutdown was still going on, 65 percent also objected to preventing the Environmental Protection Agency from doing its job, the poll results indicate.

During the shutdown, more than 90 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s staff was furloughed, according to the agency’s contingency plan.

Only 11 percent of respondents approved of Congress’ job performance, versus 84 percent who disapproved.

Some 44 percent approved of President Obama’s job performance, compared to 53 percent who disapproved.

The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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