Is 'High Road' Contracting Gaining Momentum?

The Zorbing Ball

Recent press reports have indicated that the "high road" contracting process may be gaining momentum, possibly foretelling adoption of the policy by the Obama administration. Last week, Government Executive published several stories on the topic, including an article on congressional members requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the costs and benefits of adopting "high road" contracting guidelines, and a story outlining documents obtained by GovExec that they purport give further details on how the administration might implement such a policy.

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IRS to Weed out 'Used Car Salesman' Tax Prepares

Trust Me

How much do you trust the fine folks at H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt to properly prepare your taxes? Soon you'll be able to trust them a lot more. According to a Washington Post article published today, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) "plans to test, register and screen people who get paid to prepare tax returns," as the agency seeks to "crack down on preparers who do shoddy or fraudulent work." The IRS will phase in the changes during the 2011 tax season.

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House Moves to Give More Access for GAO, SIGTARP, and the Public

While the attention of many transparency advocates has been focused on the first round of recipient reporting under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act), the House has been working on two financial transparency measures dealing with the Federal Reserve and use of the Wall Street bailout funds.

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After the Hearing: Notes on Stimulus Oversight

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held its first stimulus oversight hearing in months today, this one focused on reviewing the first round of recipient reporting under the Recovery Act. The hearing featured testimony from Earl Devaney, Chairman of the Recovery Board, Gene Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office, and undersecretaries from the Departments of Education and Transportation. Here's a quick breakdown of the few news nuggets from Dodaro and Devaney in today's hearing:

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TARP "Investment" May Not Pay Off

A new report by GAO on Uncle-Sam-dependent AIG finds that the insurance giant is "stabilizing" due to the $182 billion in financial assistance from the Treasury Department and the Fed. However, the "the ultimate success of AIG’s restructuring and repayment efforts remains uncertain."

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GAO Releases Second Bi-Monthly Recovery Act Report

The Government Accountability Office on Wednesday released its second bi-monthly review of the Recovery Act, which looks at how sixteen states and the District of Columbia use and track their recovery funds. This report in particular focuses on Medicaid funding, highway infrastructure, the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and the various accountability measures states and federal agencies have put in place. It's a long report (167 pages for the main report, plus another 736 pages [!] for the individual states appendixes), so we're still digesting it.

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Money for Nothing

Dire Straits

...and Chicks for Free

A report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that few federal agencies follow recently revised guidelines set forth by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for awarding contract bonus fees, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars per year.

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GAO Tells IRS to Improve Internal Controls


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday detailing results of an audit of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) financial statements of the previous fiscal year. The audit identifies several internal control and management issues not addressed by previous audits. The report contains 16 recommendations for improving internal controls at IRS.

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GAO Finds Federal Government's Contractor Measurement Tool Lacking

government accountability, you say

In a report released last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS), a database on contractors consulted by federal agencies to award contracts, is woefully deficient in the value of information it provides.

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Corporations Avoiding Taxes Again

noun Slang.
1. unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.
2. audacity; nerve.

"Report Finds Major U.S. Companies Have Offshore Tax Havens":

A majority of America's largest publicly traded companies and the U.S. government's largest federal contractors -- including some receiving millions in federal bailout money -- use multiple subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to conduct business and avoid paying U.S. taxes, a new report finds.

The new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, released today by Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), lists Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as having set up hundreds of tax haven subsidiaries, along with American International Group and Bank of America. Also in the tax-haven list are well-known companies and such federal contractors as American Express, Pepsi and Caterpillar.

GAO, searching publicly available data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, determined that 83 of the 100 largest publicly traded corporations and 63 of the 100 largest federal contractors maintain subsidiaries in countries generally considered havens for avoiding taxes. Dorgan and Levin said they requested the updated report from one several years ago because they are focused on combating offshore tax abuses, which they estimated cause $100 billion in lost U.S. tax revenue each year.

So, the federal government loans or gives away gobs of money to corporations with which they employ to turn a profit and then promptly avoid paying taxes by hoarding their gains offshore. Absolutely shameless.

Image by Flickr user EricGjerde used under a Creative Commons license.

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