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1-900-RIP-OFF?

February 5, 1997 The State Department has come up with a novel way to meet the increasing demand from its customers for information about applying for a passport. If customers don't want to wait in line at a passport office, they can call the new National Passport Information Center. But they'll pay up...

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The Reinvention Papers

February 3, 1997 President Clinton and Vice President Gore have given Cabinet members 15 rules for reinventing their departments that will be used in evaluating their performance during Clinton's second term. Last week, the National Performance Review compiled the rules into a 43-page booklet called The Blair House Papers, after the house across...

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Supermarketers

February 1, 1997 hen the corner grocery store needs to hire a cashier, the process is simple. The owner puts a "Help Wanted" sign in the window. People come in, fill out applications, and attend interviews. The owner hires someone. It takes a day or two. When a commissary, a military-run grocery store,...

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The Proof Is In The Price

February 1, 1997 Prices posted on common items found on the shelves of government and commercial supermarkets in Northern Virginia shortly before Christmas show why the military prizes its commissary shopping privileges. Item Supermarket Commissary Deodorant Solid XX Baby Fresh 1.7 oz. $2.19 $1.09 Big G Basic 4 Cereal $3.99 $1.99 Folgers Instant...

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FBI Moves Lab Officials

January 29, 1997 An FBI scientist-agent has been suspended after sparking an inspector general investigation of the agency's crime laboratory, where he worked. And three other lab employees have been transferred out of positions in the lab. The actions came after the Justice Department's inspector general turned in a report to FBI Director...

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FAA Called to Account

January 28, 1997 The Federal Aviation Administration has developed unreliable cost projections and mismanaged its accounting for the modernization of the nation's air traffic control system, the General Accounting Office reported last week. The air traffic control system modernization, which began in 1981, will cost more than $34 billion through 2003. About $21...

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Albright Urged to Fix State

January 28, 1997 Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., has urged Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to improve her department's performance by reducing its costs and upgrading its information systems. Speaking during Albright's January 22 confirmation hearing, Thompson said the State Department has failed to manage its operations efficiently in the...

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Acquisition Network Flops

January 22, 1997 Agencies say that the Federal Acquisition Computer Network (FACNET), designed to become a governmentwide vehicle for electronic procurement, is a failure, according to a new General Accounting Office report. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act mandated the creation of FACNET for agencies to use for purchases between $2,500 and $100,000. FACNET...

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IRS Studies Privatization

January 21, 1997 An IRS study found that outsourcing tax return processing could save the government money but would have to be done cautiously so the agency would not become dependent on unreliable or unscrupulous contractors. The IRS report, "Study of the Feasibility of Outsourcing Submissions Processing," was mandated in its fiscal 1997...

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Not Quite Scrooge

January 17, 1997 At frst glance, it looked like the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration was spreading some Christmas jeer late last year. In a recent newsletter, Local 12 of the American Federation of Government Employees reported that on Dec. 16, the division sent a notice to...