Saturday, January 11, 2014
Global consulting giant Accenture has agreed to pay $63.7 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it defrauded the US government, US officials said on Monday.
"Accenture has agreed to resolve allegations that it received kickbacks for its recommendations of hardware and software to the government," the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
The firm also "fraudulently inflated prices and rigged bids in connection with federal information technology contracts," the statement said.
The lawsuit was brought against Accenture in the southern state of Arkansas by two whistleblowers who are entitled to receive part of the settlement under a US law designed to help ferret out fraud in government contracting.
Accenture, which employs more than 223,000 people around the world and had more than $21 billion in revenues last year, is one of the world's largest technology outsourcing and management consulting companies.
Via: Yahoo News
Friday, January 10, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown today advanced a budget proposal that apparently is balanced for fiscal year 2014-15, which begins on July 1. It would spend a record $106.8 billion on the general fund, which is up a hefty 23 percent from the $86.8 billion of his first budget three years ago, for fiscal 2011-12.
The new budget includes a $1.6 billion “rainy day fund,” or 1.5 percent of the total.
The budget addresses what the governor has called the “Wall of Debt” run up by the state, currently totaling $24.9 billion. The major items are:
* $6.1 billion in deferred payments to schools, which will be eliminated;
* $3.9 billion for the Economic Recovery Bonds voters approved in 2004, at the insistence of Gov. Arnold Schwarenegger, which will be eliminated;
* $3.9 billion in loans from special funds, which will be reduced by $1 billion, to $2.9 billion;
* $5.4 billion in unpaid costs to local governments and schools for state mandates, which will remain the same;
* $2.4 billion for the under-funding of Proposition 98 for schools, which will be reduced by $600 million, to $1.8 billion.
In a question-and-answer session with reporters, CalWatchdog.com asked about the $20 billion increase in spending over three years.
The governor replied that most of the new spending is going to pay down the Wall of Debt. “When you pay off that debt, you improve the debt, you don’t make it worse,” he said.
The FBI finally has begun to contact some of the tea party groups targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for inappropriate scrutiny in the first public signs that the administration’s criminal investigation is progressing.
A lawyer representing some of the tea party groups that battled the IRS for tax-exempt status told The Washington Times that a “small number” of his clients were recently contacted, seven months after the investigation was supposed to have begun.
The progress was revealed a day after The Times reported that the Justice Department lawyer who is leading the investigation into the IRS, Barbara Kay Bosserman, has donated more than $6,000 to President Obama’s presidential campaigns — a move that, for many Republicans, has called into question the entire investigation.
“They say the fox isn’t good to guard the henhouse; the fox is probably not good to investigate the henhouse, either,” said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican. “I think these investigations need to be done by independent people outside of the administration.”
Mr. Holder ordered an FBI investigation in the days immediately after the internal auditor of the IRS revealed that the agency had been inappropriately targeting tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny and wrongly delayed the approval of hundreds of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.
Via: Washington Times
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Covered California’ the state’s Obamacare exchange, has racked up one accomplishment. Thanks to its policies, there are more uninsured Californians in January 2014 then there were one year ago.
According to media reports, some 430,000 people signed up for health insurance through Covered California during the three month sign up period to be covered January 1. But over the past year, 1,087,169 Californians in the individual market had their plans canceled due to Obamacare’s new rules.
Nationwide, some 5 million people lost their health insurance. When President Obama felt the heat, he saw the light and asked the states and insurers to extend the cancelled plans for another year. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones had already pressed insurers to extend these plans and immediately endorsed the one-year extension.
These 1.1 million people are mostly healthy and had limited coverage catastrophic plans that they liked. But for Covered California’s actuarial schemes to work, these people must be forced into the exchange. So exhibiting the empathy of Stalinist five year planners, Covered California denied the extension. As a result, came January 1 these people had no coverage.
But even if you assume that all 430,000 enrollees in the new exchange come from this pool (probably an inaccurate assumption), that still leaves 670,000 Californians with cancelled plans. Some probably found new plans through the private market, but how many simply are doing without insurance because they cannot find or cannot afford another plan?
President Obama received the Politifact “Lie of the Year” award for “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” But there is an even bigger lie that has been spread by the Administration and its liberal supporters, and that is that there are no losers in Obamacare, only winners. In fact, there are more losers so far in California than winners, and there is every reason to expect this disparity to grow in 2014.
That’s because Obamacare is essentially a huge redistribution of wealth between income levels and between generations, and in that there are always winners and losers
President Obama on Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson's "war on poverty" address by arguing government programs on education, healthcare and jobs have had a positive impact on the nation.
"These endeavors didn’t just make us a better country. They reaffirmed that we are a great country," Obama said in a statement. "They lived up to our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being."
Obama credited programs like Social Security, Medicare and the Earned Income Tax Credit with lifting millions of people from poverty and preventing millions more from experiencing economic distress.
But the president also declared that the nation's work to provide a safety net is "far from over," and called on lawmakers to "redouble" efforts on the economy through an expansion of entitlement programs, government initiatives and raising the minimum wage.
"For all that has changed in the 50 years since President Johnson dedicated us to this economic and moral mission, one constant of our character has not: we are one nation and one people, and we rise or fall together," Obama said.
The anniversary of Johnson's speech dovetails with a renewed emphasis from the White House on the president's economic agenda ahead of this month's State of the Union address.
On Tuesday, the president pleaded with Congress to pass legislation that would restore emergency unemployment benefits to 1.3 million people during a speech at the White House. The measure, aided partially after the president personally lobbied swing Republicans in a series of phone calls, passed a crucial test vote in the Senate on Tuesday, although a steep climb remains for final passage.
The White House also announced Wednesday that the president would designate five "Promise Zones" — persistently impoverished communities that the government would help through tax incentives, housing assistance and education grants.
Via: The Hill
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