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News briefs: Week of Nov. 11

Nov. 10, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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CMS CIO to retire in wake of woes

Tony Trenkle, the chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will retire Nov. 15, CMS Chief Operating Officer Michelle Snyder said last week.

CMS has been under fire for the rough rollout of the website and the federal health insurance exchanges, which have been plagued by slow load times and error messages.

Dave Nelson, the current director of the Office of Enterprise Management, will serve as the acting CIO, Snyder said.

IG: Marshals Service swag purchases excessive

The U.S. Marshals Service’s investigative operations division spent almost $800,000 on coins, Christmas ornaments and other “swag” from fiscal 2005 to 2010, according to a newly released review that labeled the expenditures excessive and, in some cases, against the rules.

During that period, the division’s spending on such promotional items soared by 975 percent, or far more than the Marshals Service’s total budget grew, auditors for the Justice Department’s inspector general found. Among the expenses: $155,100 on challenge coins, $11,300 on neckties and silk scarves emblazoned with the Marshals Service seal, $13,600 on Marshals Service-themed ornaments and $16,000 on blankets and throws.

Policies put in place since 2011 will restrain swag purchases, the IG found, but auditors also urged the Marshals Service to inventory its stock of promotional items and step up monitoring of future purchases to ensure compliance with the new policies.

DATA bill passes Senate committee

Bipartisan legislation to improve online tracking of federal spending easily cleared a Senate panel last week.

The Data Accountability and Transparency Act, would make federal spending data “more readily available to the public and [establish] stronger standards for how such spending is reported,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which unanimously approved the bill on a voice vote.

The measure, sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, now goes to the full Senate. According to Warner’s office, the legislation would:

■Expand the website to include data for all federal funds by appropriation, agency, sub-agency, account, program activity and object class.

■Require the Treasury Department to set financial data standards to provide a single governmentwide framework.

■Have the Office of Management and Budget review — and possibly reduce — reporting requirements for recipients of federal funds.

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