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government accountability office 20 articles

Proposed transportation budget would take $1 billion from underground storage tank cleanup fund

Hoping to avert a nationwide shutdown of federal transportation projects, the House Ways and Means Committee has proposed a plan that would temporarily replenish the nearly dried-up Highway Trust Fund and bankroll infrastructure projects through May 15, 2015. The bipartisan plan would rely on unusual methods to replenish federal transportation funds, including taking money from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) fund used to clean up environmentally contaminated sites. The 18.4-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax used to fund federal transportation projects has not kept pace with the nation’s infrastructure needs for various reasons. The tax has not been raised in more than ... Read More

Safety recall repairs often not made in resold and leased vehicles, GAO warns

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has the authority to prompt automotive recalls, but it lacks the ability to ensure that potentially dangerous safety defects are fixed before motor vehicles are sold to unsuspecting customers. Now the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling for the agency to take a more active role in helping prevent potentially dangerous recalled vehicles from being sold before they are repaired. A year-long study conducted by the GAO was prompted by NHTSA’s handling of Toyota’s sudden unintended acceleration issues, widely criticized by legislators and safety experts as being slow to respond and ineffective in dealing ... Read More

Many medical devices approved without human testing

About one percent of medical devices introduced in the United States market get recalled. It seems like a small number, but that number represents thousands of people who have died or been harmed by faulty medical devices. The clincher? Many of those devices were never tested on humans before they were approved for use. The process is called fast-tracking. Some categories of medical devices can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with little or no testing if they are similar to other devices already approved. Since 2009, 67 individual high-risk devices have been approved through this process ... Read More

osha accused of mismanaging whistleblower protection program

The federal whistleblower protection program that is supposed to serve 200 million U.S. workers is languishing under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s authority and should be removed, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The GAO report admonished OSHA leadership for its inattention to the whistleblower program and recommended that it be elevated to its own separate office. The GAO’s recommendation jibes with the calls of whistleblower support organizations, such as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which has petitioned Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to turn the program into its own office within the Department of Labor. Entitled ... Read More

Government Accountability Office releases ATV report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a new report called “All-Terrain Vehicles: How They Are Used, Crashes, and Sales of Adult-Sized Vehicles for Children’s Use.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is responsible for monitoring ATV safety and federal rulemaking affecting the manufacturing, sale and use of the vehicles, requires GAO to report on the various uses and advantages of ATVs and the nature, frequency and costs associated with ATV crashes. The CPSC and GAO define ATVs as “off-road motorized vehicles, usually with four tires, a straddle seat for the operator, and handlebars for steering control.” The ATV ... Read More

ATV crash kills Minnesota woman, injures another

A 31-year-old Minnesota woman died Saturday when the all-terrain vehicle she was a passenger on crashed into a tree. According to the Bemidji Pioneer, Jessica Christopherson was riding on a 2004 Honda TRX 650R ATV driven by Chad Tabaka, also 30 years old, when the accident occurred. According to a press release from the Hubbard County, Minnesota, Sheriff’s office, Tabaka lost control of the vehicle, which caused it to leave the road and strike a tree. The accident was reported about 6 p.m. in Steamboat River Township. Emergency workers declared Christopherson, a resident of Benedict, Minn., dead at the scene ... Read More

New Orleans is ‘Ground Zero’ of national wage theft epidemic

Hurricane Katrina, a powerful storm surge, and a system of inadequate levies teamed up in 2005 to create an unprecedented level of disaster in the United States. In the wake that followed, New Orleans (along with many other coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) resembled a sea of destruction. New Orleans relied heavily on day laborers to clean up, repair, and rebuild. Sadly, however, recent surveys found that 80% of the Hispanic workers had been cheated out of compensation. The rampant injustice plaguing manual laborers compelled New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow to promote an ordinance that would ... Read More

Obama's pick for FDA commissioner wants to restore trust in agency

President Barack Obama’s top pick for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, Bioterrorsim expert and former New York City health commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, says that she wants to restore public confidence in the FDA, according to Boston.com. She already has Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s support. “Her expertise is valuable for problems we now face, such as combating food-borne illness, cooperating with other agencies to address the new flu outbreak and drug-resistant diseases, and protecting our food and drug supplies,” Sen. Kennedy said in a statement for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing. If confirmed, one of Dr. ... Read More

Solis works to revamp and empower Wage and Hour Division

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, under which the Fair Labor Standards Act came into existence in 1938 as part of a nationwide effort to protect working class citizens from corporate exploitation and abuse, may be on the mend after an long era of being little more than a bureaucratic entity. In March, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced her intentions to revamp and empower the Wage and Hour Division, saying that she would increase the Division’s staff size by a third in an effort to “refocus the agency on [its] enforcement responsibilities.” The addition of new field investigators, ... Read More

Department of Labor fails to uphold and enforce FLSA regulations

If you’re a wage worker and your employer is violating the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by paying you less than minimum wage, denying you overtime, or misclassifying you as a manager or independent contractor, don’t go running to the Department of Labor (DOL) for help anytime soon. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is incompetent. What’s worse, the latest report, released on March 29, represents the third time in less than a year that the GAO has found the Wage and Hour Division’s performance a failure when it came to enforcing ... Read More