The watchdog agency for the behemoth Department of Health and Human Services is stretched so thin that it was unable to investigate at least 1,200 cases of Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse last year, leaving the agency vulnerable to losing out on millions of dollars, Gary Cantrell, deputy inspector general for Health and Human Services said at a congressional hearing last week.
Cantrell’s announcement comes just as the auditing agency prepares to cut 400 workers nationwide from its 1,800-person workforce. Cantrell warned that with continued budget cuts and a huge reduction in staff, the agency will likely fail to investigate even more cases in the coming year. - Read more at Center for Public Integrity
EPA SENDS WHITE HOUSE NEW CARBON EMISSION REGS The Environmental Protection Agency submitted its proposal to regulate carbon emissions at new power plants, just one week after the president announced his plans to fight climate change. Though the EPA’s proposal is sealed, it is expected to establish separate emissions standards for coal and natural-gas fired power plants. The Office of Management and Budget will now assess the rule and return it to the EPA. - Read more at The Hill
COULD SNOWDEN BRING DOWN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? Edward Snowden’s latest leaked information revealing that the United States has been spying on its European allies could threaten to derail international trade agreements. The Fiscal Times’ David Francis writes, “one can argue about whether Snowden’s revelations have made America less safe. But it’s undisputable that he has caused an erosion of trust between partners and their citizens. This trust is essential in building international trade agreements, as popular support for trade pacts is essential…Without these pacts, international trade dries up and hundreds of billions are removed from the global economy.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
OBAMA PRESSURED TO FIRE IG UNDER INVESTIGATION Cause for Action, a nonpartisan government accountability group, called for the removal of the Homeland Security Department’s deputy inspector general Charles Edwards, on Monday in a letter to President Obama.
The group, which has been investigating Edwards for a year, alleges that he has intimidated and retaliated against employees as well as securing a supervisor position at the department for his wife, after investigating him for a year. A Senate subcommittee is also investigating the allegations against Edwards.
“Edwards’ poor management skills and misbehavior have created a toxic and largely dysfunctional environment at DHS OIG,” stated a July 1 letter to President Obama from Daniel Epstein, executive director of Cause for Action. Epstein’s letter quoted a source who said that employees in Edwards’ office were “basically…eating each other alive.”
Edwards, who is currently the top official at the watchdog agency tasked with auditing Homeland Security’s $39.5 billion budget, served as the acting inspector general from February, 2011 to January, 2013, when he was moved to the deputy position because the acting IG post is limited to two years. - Read more at Gov Exec
WHY DEFENSE CONTRACTORS LOVE IMMIGRATION REFORM Tucked into the $40 billion border security deal approved by the Senate as part of a broader immigration reform bill last week, includes language securing projects for the nation’s largest defense contractors. The provisions require purchasing of 15 Sikorsky helicopters at about $17 million each and $9.3 million worth of radar equipment from Northrop Grumman to be used along the U.S.- Mexican border. Read more at The Washington Post
BIG BUSINESS PAYS LESS IN TAXES THAN YOU DO By taking advantage of legal loopholes and deductions, some of the largest U.S. companies paid just a fraction—12.6 percent—of the 35 percent statutory corporate tax rate in 2010, a new report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office shows. The report comes amid mounting concerns over the tactics corporations are using to scale back their tax bills. See the report here