News in Brief

IT contracts' (gentle) squeeze, a new spending site, NSA ties and Pistole retires


IT service contract obligations fell less than most in sequester

Contract obligations for information communications technology services dropped less than other types of contract obligations during the fiscal 2013 sequestration, according to a new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In fiscal 2013, IT contract obligations fell 8 percent from the previous year; the overall decline was about 14 percent, the study found.

The report also said that defense contractors bore the brunt of budget cuts triggered by sequestration and the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Non-profit launches federal spending site

The National Priorities Project, a non-profit watchdog group, launched a new site that maps information on how federal spending flows to states through federal employee compensation, grants to government entities, entitlement spending and contracts.

The State Smart site was created as a partial substitute for the Consolidated Federal Funds Report, which was produced by the Census Bureau. That state-level federal spending data is only partly available via, according to a release from NPP.

"We decided to bring back this level of detail about federal spending because we believe that all Americans deserve to know how the government is spending their tax dollars," said Becky Sweger, director of data and technology for NPP.

Documents suggest close relationship between NSA, U.S. firms

Newly disclosed National Security Agency documents suggest a closer relationship between American companies and the spy agency than have been previously disclosed, according to a report from ProPublica.

The documents, published last week by The Intercept, describe "contractual relationships" between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as the fact that the NSA has "under cover" spies working at or with some U.S. companies.

While not conclusive, the material includes some clear suggestions that at least some American companies are quite willing to help the agency conduct its massive surveillance programs.

TSA Administrator Pistole retiring

John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, is stepping down from his post and retiring from the federal government after 31 years of service.

His last day on the job will be Dec. 31.

Pistole is the longest serving administrator at the TSA, a component of the Homeland Security Department. He led the agency for the past four years, after a 26 year career at the FBI that included six years as deputy director.

The TSA said in an Oct. 16 statement that Pistole is expected to be named to a position in academia beginning in early 2015.

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