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Posts tagged ‘Fiscal year’

Chief Justice Roberts: Federal Courts Need More Funds.


Image: Chief Justice Roberts: Federal Courts Need More Funds

Congress and the White House need to restore funding to the nation’s federal courts to keep from undermining “the public’s confidence in all three branches of government,” Chief Justice John Roberts said Tuesday in his year-end report.

Roberts has made similar calls for more money in the past.

“I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls. The budget remains the single most important issue facing the courts,” he said.

The courts have been severely affected by government cost-cutting, Roberts said.

“The combined effects since July 2011 of flat budgets followed by sequestration reduced on-board court staffing levels by 3,100 (14 percent) to about 19,000 employees — the lowest staffing level since 1997, despite significant workload increases over that same period — and reduced federal defender offices staffing by 11 percent in fiscal year 2013 alone,” he said.

What would happen if the sequestration cuts continue? If Congress instead freezes court funding at sequester level, it “would lead to the loss of an estimated additional 1,000 court staff,” Roberts said.

“The first consequence would be greater delays in resolving civil and criminal cases. In the civil and bankruptcy venues, further consequences would include commercial uncertainty, lost opportunities and unvindicated rights. In the criminal venues, those consequences pose a genuine threat to public safety.”

Court officials are calling for $7.04 billion for fiscal year 2014, which they calculate at less than two-tenths of 1 percent of total federal outlays.

“In the coming weeks, and into the future, I encourage the president and Congress to be attentive to the needs of the judicial branch and avert the adverse consequences that would result from funding the judiciary below its minimal needs,” Roberts said.

“The judiciary continues to depend on the vision and statesmanship of our colleagues in the executive and legislative departments. It takes no imagination to see that failing to meet the judiciary’s essential requirements undermines the public’s confidence in all three branches of government.”

The judiciary system also is working to save money by ensuring any new space requested by a judicial circuit is offset by an equivalent reduction in the same fiscal year. The courts also are looking to reduce their overall space by 3 percent by the end of fiscal 2018.

“The only exceptions from these policies are new courthouses and repair and alterations projects specifically approved by Congress,” Roberts said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

‘Excessive’ IRS Travel Expenses Draw Scrutiny.


Some IRS executives have been getting “significant” travel expenses reimbursed for commuting to Washington, D.C., to work instead of relocating there, a new watchdog report shows.

The IRS spent more than $9 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 sending agents around the country, but that amount did not appear “excessive,” David Holmgren, a Treasury Department deputy inspector general, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday.

But, according to Politico, some expense reimbursements were much higher than what most agents receive for travel, Holmgren said.

For example, one top official, whose name was not released, was reimbursed $161,000 in 2011 for travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, and taxis, along with a per-diem for food and other necessities.

“When you compare that to the average IRS executive [travel expenditure] — which is between $12,000 and $13,000 per year — you can see it’s quite a significant difference,” said Holmgren.

Still, Holmgren stressed, a review found no misconduct. But, he said, the IRS could spend money more efficiently by relocating employees rather than pay their travel expenses
Citing “this tight fiscal environment,” an IRS official said Tuesday the agency has “put in place new procedures to stop the practice of allowing executives to routinely leave their home office to travel to another city to conduct their principal work.”

According to Pamela J. LaRue, the agency’s chief financial officer, the IRS has more than 300 executives, many of whom are required to travel to meet the requirements of their jobs.

In a statement to accountingtoday.com
, LaRue described the executive positions as “highly specialized,” requiring a unique set of skills that includes an understanding of the tax laws, the agency’s programs, and technology infrastructure “critical to successfully running a tax system that collects $2.5 trillion a year.

“The employees best prepared to handle these demanding and complex jobs may not always live where the position is located and may not be in a position to relocate, necessitating some additional travel,” she added.

The report showed that 15 IRS executives accounted for $1.2 million spent on top-level travel expenses in fiscal year 2011. In 2012, the 15 spent another $1.1 million on travel, accounting for about a quarter of the agency’s reimbursed expenses.

Holmgren noted that the executives with the largest travel budgets hold “national headquarters-types of positions . . . but the majority, or all of them, in fact, were not here in the D.C. area,” he told reporters, according to Politico.

The watchdog report issued by Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration also noted that some of the executives traveled more days than they worked and lived on the road for more than half the year.

The cost and frequency of travel for these executives indicate that they may not live in the best location to economically accomplish their roles and responsibilities,” the report suggested.
.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

No Sequester Furloughs at State Department.


Despite budget cuts requiring most federal agencies to furlough workers, the State Department says it will not have to force any of its employees to take unpaid leave.

State’s top management official said Friday that the budget sequester cut for the department would be only $400 million, less than half of $850 million that was originally estimated.

Because of that and other cost-saving measures already implemented, Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management, said department employees both in the United States and abroad would be spared furloughs at least until the end of the current budget year.

The department has cut back on spending by reducing travel and conference expenses, filling only one of every two new job vacancies and adjusting building temperatures, he said.

Investigation: China Secretly Stockpiling Gold

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

AG Holder: No Furloughs at Justice Department.


Attorney General Eric Holder says he will not need to furlough any Justice Department employees in the current fiscal year.

The attorney general says he will be able to avoid furloughs because of additional money in the recently enacted legislation, combined with aggressive steps to freeze hiring and cut contracting and other costs.

Holder said Wednesday in a memo to all employees that even though there will be no furloughs, the $1.6 billion reduction stemming from automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will have negative impacts on the department.

He said that imposing a strict hiring freeze would prevent the Justice Department from filling needed positions. Holder said the department will face additional severe cuts in the budget year that begins Oct. 1 if Congress does not take action.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Obama Signs Order for $109B in 2014 Sequester Cuts.


Just hours after proposing a budget that would replace automatic spending cuts required by law, President Barack Obama on Wednesday set in motion the next $109 billion of the reductions to military and domestic programs for the year starting on Oct. 1.

The White House announced that Obama signed the sequester order, which directs that total discretionary spending for fiscal year 2014 be cut by $91 billion to a total of $967 billion – the lowest level since 2004.

Obama was required by law to sign the order after submitting his budget request to Congress. The appropriations committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate are holding hearings this week over how to divide the dwindling discretionary funding pie for programs ranging from education to weapons development to national parks.

Little has been done to stop the initial $85 billion in cuts that went into effect on March 1 and threatens to prompt temporary layoffs for hundreds of thousands of government workers and defense contractor employees.

If left in place, the sequester would force about another $1.1 trillion in across-the board spending cuts over a decade.

The Republican budget, authored by Representative Paul Ryan and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month, keeps the sequester savings in place, and maintains the same $967 billion spending cap now ordered by Obama for fiscal 2014.

But Obama’s budget, like the one passed by Senate Democrats, proposed to replace the sequester, largely through tax increases on the wealthy and spending cuts elsewhere, including health, and a lower inflation gauge for cost of living increases associated with tax brackets, Social Security, and other program.

The budgets represent a starting point for talks in the next few months over deficit reduction as a new debt limit increase deadline looms by August.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Next’s Profits Rise Amid Warning Of Tough 2013.


  • Next's Profits Rise Amid Warning Of Tough 2013View PhotoNext’s Profits Rise Amid Warning Of Tough 2013

Strong online and catalogue sales have helped Next report an increase in profit – but the retailer said it planned to adopt a more “cautious approach” looking ahead.

The chain, which has over 500 UK stores and almost 200 more overseas, said underlying pre-tax profit rose by 9% to £621.6m in the year to the end of January.

Next Directory – the company’s online and catalogue business – grew by 9.5% over the period, but sales in stores were flat when compared to the year before.

The retailer warned that trading in the New Year had got off to a slow start, and was expected to “remain subdued” as wage freezes and inflation hit consumer spending.

“The first few weeks of the year have been quiet and serve to reinforce a more cautious approach,” Next said in its results.

Sales in 2013 were at the bottom of the company’s target range, it said, but were expected to improve.

“We will get a better understanding of the underlying consumer environment once temperatures return to seasonal levels.”

The company’s chairman, John Barton, said he anticipated “another challenging year” in 2013, with little if any growth in the UK retail economy.

Next’s announcement contrasted with that of fellow clothing retailer Ted Baker, which reported strong trading to date in 2013.

“The new financial year has started well at this early stage, particularly in the UK,” the company said in its results.

The British brand reported a hike in profit as a result of strong sales in its home markets and investment in its online operations.

Profit before tax and exceptional costs was up by 16.5% to £31.5m in the year to January 26, compared to the year before.

Ted Baker, which has over 300 stores and concessions across the world, said retail sales were up by 11% in the UK and Europe.

It also reported strong demand overseas, which helped boost sales in the US and Canada by 68%.

The results come as official figures revealed that retail sales in the UK increased by more than expected in February.

Excluding fuel, retail sales rebounded by 1.9% when compared to January, and by 3.3% on the year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

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