January 11th, 2012
09:51 AM ET

Obama budget pick faces Capitol Hill challenge

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) - With budget chief Jack Lew stepping up to be President Obama's new chief of staff, Washington is abuzz over who - if anyone - will be tapped as the president's new budget director.

The White House's director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been playing an increasingly high profile role when it comes to sparring with Congress, thanks to ongoing debates over budget deficits and keeping the federal government funded.

For now, the White House appears to be suggesting it's not in a rush to fill the job, saying Lew will continue to oversee the president's release of the 2013 budget.

Read the complete story at CNN Money.com

Topics: OMB • President Obama • The News
Dir. Lew: Improper federal payments on the decline
Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew called a reduction in improper federal payments "good stewardship."
November 15th, 2011
04:38 PM ET

Dir. Lew: Improper federal payments on the decline

Following up on an executive order signed by the president in 2009, Obama administration officials held a conference call today to announce their progress in reducing “improper payments” made by the federal government. Totaling $116 billion in fiscal year 2011, improper payments are defined as payments made by the federal government either in the wrong amount, to the wrong person, or for the wrong reason.

“At a time when our most critical programs – economic programs, social safety net programs – are experiencing tighter and tighter budgets, it's particularly imperative that we not tolerate such errors,” Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew said on the call.

Today Lew announced that in FY 2011 the federal government cut improper payments by $18 billion and recaptured $1.2 billion in erroneous payments. When combined with the numbers from FY 2010, the government has prevented nearly $21 billion in improper payments and recaptured over $1.9 billion, Lew said.

Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan as well as Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan also participated in the call, outlining efforts underway at their respective agencies to reduce payments made in error.

But OMB officials urged caution in how these numbers are interpreted. The government does deem a payment improper if it has paid too much, but also if it has paid too little or even if it has simply made an error in documenting what the payment was for. Meaning that ultimately not all of the money saved or recaptured goes to paying down the deficit, or even returns to the program to which it was originally allocated. FULL POST

Topics: Jack Lew • OMB
Bipartisan opposition to 3% tax withholding
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Brian Yaklyvich/ CNN)
October 25th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Bipartisan opposition to 3% tax withholding

Unless Congress takes action, all bills paid by the federal government for goods, services or property after January 1, 2012 will be subject to a 3% tax withholding. The original provision was a revenue-raiser inserted into the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act signed by President George W. Bush back in 2006. The idea was that the 3% withholding would count toward the vendor’s tax liability, meaning that at the end of the year whatever money was withheld by the government from a vendor would count as part of the total amount owed by a company back to the government in taxes.

It was seen as one way to ensure that contractors hired by the government are paying what they owe in taxes.

But because the withholding doesn't take into account the actual size of a company’s tax liability, only the revenue it is due to receive from the government, opponents like the Government Withholding Relief Coalition view the provision as "forcing companies to provide the federal government with an interest-free loan."

Well, now both the Obama Administration and Republican leadership in the Senate are on the same page when it comes to repealing this withholding. Today the Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration Policy supporting the passage of H.R. 674 – a bill “to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities.” FULL POST

Topics: Mitch McConnell • OMB