botched rollout

How Republicans Will Make Life Hell for Barack Obama

​Call it the subpoena surge of 2015. ​Republicans are now preparing to take control of the Senate for the first time eight years-a political power shift that gives the GOP free rein to torment President Barack Obama, and unleash the full weight of Congressional oversight to investigate, subpoena, and generally make trouble for Democrats in the next two years.

Privately, Obama advisers have been complaining in recent weeks about how much more time they will presumably have to spend dealing with Republican-led congressional investigations once GOP leaders take over as committee chairs in the Senate. After four years of beating back investigations from the House, the new subpoena blizzard would come from the upper chamber, whose 100 members are often (though not always) more polished, camera ready, and far more potent adversaries than the lower chamber’s motley assortment of Tea Party street fighters.

“When you have the opposition party to the White House calling the shots in the Senate, I think there would be more oversight and more critical oversight, albeit with the greater measure of decorum that is typical of the Senate,” said Adam Zagorin, a senior fellow at the Project on Government Oversight.

A senior Senate GOP investigator agreed: “We’re salivating at the opportunity,” one senior GOP Senate investigator told me, “and not because anyone has a hit list or anything but because there’s just been an absolute gulf of oversight from the Senate for nearly a decade.”

“People [want] to give the Federal Administration an appropriate level of scrutiny,” the investigator added.

Republicans have said little publicly about what they plan to do with Senate subpoena power. But it’s easy to see how things could get ugly fast once GOP committee chairs have gavels in their hands. Expect investigations into the president’s use of executive privilege to push through his agenda on issues like climate change and immigration, as well as probes into the Obama administration’s handling of various foreign policy conflicts, from the deadly attacks on Benghazi in 2012 to the mission to recover Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Not to mention what will likely be an endless string of hearings on the botched rollout of Obamacare.

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When you think of the federal government and computers, these days, the image that likely comes to mind is the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

But the government is changing the way it develops and designs software systems. There's a new chief technology officer hired from Google, and new initiatives have been launched aimed at bringing a more Silicon Valley-ish approach to government IT.

One of these new offices is 18F. It’s actually part of the General Services Administration and is at GSA headquarters, located at — wait for it — 18th and F streets in Washington, D.C. It’s an open space, with nary a government-issued cubicle in sight.

Remaking The U.S. Government’s Online Image, One Website At A Time

Photo credit: Emily Jan/NPR