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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Government waste in focus

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

We're expected to learn more Thursday about the Obama administration's efforts to cut back on government contracting costs.

Government spending on contracts totaled about $540 billion in 2008 and the use of noncompetitive, or "high risk" contracts jumped $106 billion between 2002 and 2008, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

In an effort to curtail potentially wasteful spending, President Obama has ordered agencies to cut back on no-bid deals by at least 10 percent. He also wants to scale back contract spending by $40 billion by the end of fiscal 2012.

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Wednesday that Congress needs to get more serious on curtailing wasteful government spending.

"At some point, we need to send some kind of shock wave across the federal government that this time, we really mean it," Warner said at a meeting on government performance hosted by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that used the event to unveil a new report on government performance.

Warner, a former Virginia governor, is working with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on proposals to cut federal spending in the next decade by adopting recommendations of the recent presidential debt commission.

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Cabinet and Staff News: The White House is battling with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) over the South Korea trade deal. Donald Rumsfeld is largely unapologetic in his new memoir. Former president Jimmy Carter faces $5 million lawsuit for his "Palestine" book.

Army sets sights on new rifle: For the first time in almost 50 years, the U.S. Army wants to replace its standard weapon.

EPA plans new limits on toxic chemicals in drinking water: The move is a major step toward updating the nation's clean water laws, which have lagged far behind environmental and health science.

Solar system with six exoplanets, others in habitable zones found by NASA's Kepler: New discoveries made public Wednesday reveal a large and surprising menagerie of planets deep in space, with some almost as small as Earth and others in the "habitable zones" of their solar systems where scientists think life could potentially exist.

Natural gas leak forces Space Center evacuation: It was caused when a backhoe struck a natural gas line at the Kennedy Space Center.

Financial disarray at SEC hurts bid for bigger budget: If a company's financial reporting were so bad that its auditor had pointed out significant weaknesses in its accounting for seven years running, the Securities and Exchange Commission would most likely be all over it. But what if the company were the SEC itself?

The famous Farrah Fawcett red swimsuit donated to Smithsonian: It seemed more than Ryan O'Neal could bear.

Smithsonian has bonanza year in fundraising: It had its best December ever, bringing in $50 million.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 3, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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