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Federal Government
USDA Seeks Grants Applicants To Increase Economic Opportunity And Improve Quality of Life In Rural Areas PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 05:23

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - Low-income rural communities, nonprofits, and federally recognized tribes are being encouraged by the federal government to apply for grants to carry out housing and economic development projects.

 
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grant application process this week.
 
"Many rural nonprofits often need capital and technical assistance to carry out their missions," Vilsack said in a statement. "These grants will provide both of these components through local and regional organizations that are experts at delivering such services."
 
USDA is making nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).
 
Recipients must be non-profit organizations, low-income rural communities, or federally recognized tribes. Intermediary organizations are required to provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. The grants do not go directly to business recipients but rather through qualified intermediaries.
 
The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014. 
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 05:23
 
CBO: U.S. Budget Deficit To Fall In 2014/2015 And Then Rise Again PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 15:20

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government ran a lower deficit this July than a year ago, keeping it on course to record the lowest deficit in six years.

 
The July deficit was $94.6 billion, an improvement of 3.1 percent from a year ago, the Treasury Department reported Tuesday in its monthly budget statement.
 
For the first 10 months of this budget year, the deficit totals $460.5 billion, down 24.2 percent from the same period a year ago.
 
The Congressional Budget Office expects this year's deficit to total around $500 billion, down from $680.2 billion last year. That would be the lowest deficit since an imbalance of $458.6 billion in 2008, which was a record at the time. The Great Recession and efforts to deal with the financial crisis sent deficits above $1 trillion for four straight years.
 
The July imbalance followed a $70.5 billion surplus in June, a month when government coffers are swelled by quarterly tax payments. But without the quarterly payments, the government ran a deficit in July, a month when it has recorded deficits in 58 of the last 60 years.
 
The yearly deficit peaked at $1.4 trillion in 2009 and remained above $1 trillion for each of the next three years, finally falling to $680.2 billion last year.
 
CBO projects the deficit will fall to $469 billion in 2015 before starting to rise again, topping $1 trillion annually starting in 2023. Spending on the government's major benefit programs, including Social Security and Medicare, will drive those increases as more baby boomers retire.
 
For the first 10 months of the current budget year, which began in October, government revenue totals $2.47 trillion, up 8 percent from the same period a year ago, reflecting a stronger economy which has boosted employment and led to rising income tax revenues and higher corporate tax payments.
 
With two months left in the current budget year, government spending is up 1.2 percent to $2.93 trillion, compared to a year ago, reflecting government efforts to restrain outlays in an effort to get control of the budget deficits.
 
Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of failing to propose significant cuts to reduce soaring entitlement costs. Democrats counter that Republicans would rather impose sharp cuts on needed government programs than impose higher taxes on the wealthy.
 
Neither side is expected to make major concessions in this congressional election year. But the budget wars of the past three years have subsided at least for a brief time. An agreement was reached in December on the broad outlines for spending over the next two years. The agreement will allow Washington to avoid the gridlock that culminated in October's 16-day partial shutdown of the government.
 
The budget cease-fire also includes legislation that suspended the government's borrowing limit through March 15 of next year. That puts off another battle over raising the debt ceiling until a new Congress takes office in January.
 
 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 15:23
 
IG: DEA Paid $854,460 To Secretary For Passenger Lists It Could Access For Free PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 15:16

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak employee hundreds of thousands of dollars over two decades to obtain confidential information it could have gotten for free, according to internal investigators at the railroad.

 
According to a report released Monday by Amtrak's inspector general, the DEA paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 to be an informant. The employee was not publicly identified except as a "secretary to a train and engine crew."
 
Amtrak's own police agency is already in a joint drug enforcement task force that includes the DEA. According to the inspector general, that task force can obtain Amtrak confidential passenger reservation information at no cost.
 
The office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. Howard's report on the incident suggested policy changes and "other measures to address control weaknesses that Amtrak management is considering." DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden declined to comment.
 
Amtrak is officially known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp. and is not a government agency, although it has received tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies and is subject to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
 
Passenger name reservation information is collected by airlines, rail carriers and others and generally includes a passenger's name, the names of other passengers traveling with them, the dates of the ticket and travel, frequent flier or rider information, credit card numbers, emergency contact information, travel itinerary, baggage information, passport number, date of birth, gender and seat number.
 
Amtrak's inspector general said the secretary provided the passenger information without seeking approval from Amtrak management or police, but Amtrak's own corporate privacy policy expressly allows it to sell or share personal information about its customers and passengers with contractors or a category of others it describes as "certain trustworthy business partners."
 
It was not immediately clear whether the DEA has rules against soliciting corporate insiders to provide confidential customer information in exchange for money when providing that information would cause the employee to violate a company's or organization's own rules or policies. The DEA does not publish on its website its staff manuals or instructions for employees.
 
The report said the secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had "regularly" sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak's approval, said the IG's summary.
 
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the $854,460 an unnecessary expense and asked for further information about the incident in a letter he released Monday to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. Grassley said the incident "raises some serious questions about the DEA's practices and damages its credibility to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies."
 
It's not unprecedented for law enforcement to have professional people who are informants employed in transportation and other industries, said a federal law enforcement official who is familiar with the incident involving Amtrak. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak on the record.
 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 15:23
 
Federal Greenhouse Gas Report Focuses On Land Management And Conservation Activities PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 15:58

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report that, according to the agency, provides uniform scientific methods for quantifying the changes in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage from various land management and conservation activities. 

 
"Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture and Forestry: Methods for Entity-Scale Inventory" can be accessed at www.usda.gov/oce/climate_change/estimation.htm.
 
"America's farm, ranch and forest managers are stewards of the land, and have long recognized the significance of managing soil health, plant productivity and animal nutrition. Conservation practices and other management changes can reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon storage while improving soil health, productivity, and resilience to drought and other extreme weather," said USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie in a news release. 
 
More than three dozen experts worked on the report.
 
For more information on USDA's Climate Change activities,  visit www.usda.gov and click on "Climate Solutions."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 15:59
 
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