Trends in Federal Contracting

photo of hardhat and blueprintsIn fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent more than $430 billion on contracts for goods and services—almost 40 percent of all discretionary spending. These contracts covered everything from products such as major weapons systems and IT equipment, to services such as construction or research and development.

We released a new “Quick Look” report earlier this year that reviewed trends in contracting across the federal government.

Today’s WatchBlog shares some snapshots from that report and what our findings mean for government spending and oversight. Continue reading

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Right-Sizing Navy Ship Crews

Operating and maintaining the Navy’s ships is a 24/7 job. Having the right number of sailors onboard with the right skills is crucial for keeping the fleet in prime condition and for ensuring that sailors aren’t being overworked.

Today’s WatchBlog explores how the Navy mans its ships—and how it can improve to meet the needs of its growing fleet. Read on and listen to our podcast with John Pendleton, a Director in our Defense Capabilities and Management team, for more details.

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Do we have enough sailors? Continue reading

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Creature Comforts in the Great Outdoors

Planning that big summer trip to Jellystone (or one of the non-fictitious U.S. national parks)? Visiting one of the many concessions services overseen by the National Park Service is one way to avoid Yogi Bear’s creative attempts to swipe your pic-a-nic basket.

Through concessions contracts, companies and individuals (known as “concessioners”) operate businesses such as lodges, restaurants, and recreational services in National Parks. The Park Service has faced challenges managing these contracts in the past, so today’s WatchBlog takes a look at how it’s doing now.

Glacier National Park, Montana | Source: National Park Service, Jacob W. Frank Continue reading

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Here Comes the Sun

Rooftop solar panels, smart thermostats, residential batteries, and other tech may help you manage your energy use, generate electricity, and lower your utility bills. For example, homeowners can use solar systems to generate clean electricity to power their home and electric car.

But too much customer-generated electricity could strain the local electrical grid and lead to higher infrastructure costs if solar systems and other technologies are deployed without regard to grid conditions.

So, how does this all work? Today’s WatchBlog takes a look at these solar residential systems.

Residential Rooftop Solar System

Continue reading

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Information Technology and Veterans Affairs

Veterans thumbnailAvid readers of the WatchBlog have seen some of our many posts on veterans’ access to health care and other support services, such as disability payments. Despite years of attempts to correct ongoing problems with health care and disability benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to struggle, in part because of issues with the information technology that underpins these vital systems—one of the reasons it’s on our High Risk list. In addition, VA has had other IT problems as well, such as slow consolidation and closure of its data centers.

Today’s WatchBlog takes a closer look at some of these IT challenges. Continue reading

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The Evolving U.S. Military Presence on Guam

thumbnail international affairsThe island of Guam located in the Pacific Ocean has been a U.S. territory since 1898. Over the years, the United States has maintained a military presence on the island to support and defend its interests in the western Pacific Ocean. Starting around 2022, the Department of Defense expects to further grow that presence by moving approximately 4,100 Marines from Japan to Guam. But will Guam be ready?

Today’s WatchBlog explores the past and future of U.S. military presence on Guam. Continue reading

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Mission Accomplished? What DOD Needs to Do to Address Its Key Challenges

5 key challengesDefending the nation is no easy task. DOD faces a wide array of evolving threats. And more than a decade of warfare has taken its toll on DOD personnel and equipment.

So where does that leave the Department?

Today’s WatchBlog looks at the 5 key areas DOD needs to improve to accomplish its mission. Continue reading

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Managing Fisheries in a Changing Ocean

commercial-fishing-boatAs the conditions in the Earth’s oceans change due to rising ocean temperatures, among other things, the size and location of fish populations may also change. So, can federal agencies anticipate and plan for the effects of these changes on specific types of fish?

For today’s World Oceans Day, the WatchBlog explores the National Marine Fisheries Service’s efforts to successfully manage federal fisheries in light of changing ocean conditions. Continue reading

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75 Years After the Battle of Midway, a Tour of the Midway Atoll

video stillA major World War II naval battle around the Midway Atoll—a trio of small islands near Hawaii—ended in June 1942 when the United States turned back a Japanese attack and crippled its Imperial Navy.

Now, 75 years later, this atoll is home to the Battle of Midway National Memorial, which marks the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

To honor the occasion, we’re taking a tour of some historic battle spots on the atoll from our review of Midway’s history and habitat. While Midway is inaccessible to most Americans, our video and the photos below can help give you a sense of what the atoll looks like now. Continue reading

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“It was 50 years ago today…”

GAO logoOn June 1, 1967, the Beatles released their album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the United States. It revolutionized modern music and helped usher in the Summer of Love. In honor of this musical and cultural milestone, the WatchBlog shares some GAO reports you may recognize in the classic lyrics. Continue reading

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