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    BELLEVILLE — An area congressman is cosponsoring a bipartisan measure that would force federal agencies to battle wasteful spending and apply savings to highway and environmental needs.
    The bill, House Resolution 4937, was introduced in June and has been referred to a pair of committees. It still has the potential to be heard during the 113th Congress, which ends Jan. 3. It is called The Protection Against Wasteful Spending Act 2014.
    “With August being a district work period month, we likely won’t see any movement for the next several weeks,” said Laura Taylor, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, the Belleville Democrat who is cosponsoring the bill with Rep. David B. McKinley, a West Virginia Republican.
    The bill is in front of both the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Appropriations.
    The proposal uses a bit of a carrot and stick incentive in an attempt to force agencies to react to waste uncovered by any of the federal government’s 73 inspectors general. Those that fail to implement IG recommendations in a “timely manner” would be prohibited from spending obligated funds for convention or seminar attendance and international or domestic travel by any politically-appointed official; or for any bonus or salary increase for such officials.
    Any savings from the implementation of a recommendation would be split 50-50 between the Highway Trust Fund for road projects and the Environmental Protection Agency for making capitalization grants for state water pollution control revolving funds.
    “At the end of the day, this is just good government,” Enyart said in a statement. “We need to reduce wasteful spending and better use American’s hard-earned tax dollars. This bill uses proven cost-saving measures that will reinvest billions from excessive spending into our nation’s aging infrastructure. Representative McKinley and I think this is simply financial common sense.”
    Whether any agency could get a handle on its spending is a good question.
    Last year, Enyart said, a total of $67 billion was identified as waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government by inspectors general. The IG reported that 16,900 cost-savings recommendations had not yet been implemented.
    The legislation would require IGs to report any recommendations and outline cost savings opportunities to be implemented.
    In each of the fiscal years from 2014-2020, the head of each federal agency would have to implement all of the recommendations of its inspector general regarding wasteful or duplicate spending, except for any recommendation that would violate an existing law. Each department would also have to report to Congress on such implementations.
    Agencies would have 60 days after the submission of an IG report to implement a recommendation or risk funding for travel and bonuses being transferred to the highway fund or EPA.
    The proposal defines “timely manner’’ as determined by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Comptroller General and the inspector general of the relevant agency, with regard to implementation of a recommendation.
    Some 30 percent of a recommendation must be completed within the first year following the submission of the IG report; and 70 percent must be completed within the second year.
    The two congressmen estimated that “tens of billions of dollars” could be saved.
    “We want to be a part of the solution for improving our nation’s infrastructure,” McKinley wrote. “This bill will make that happen without creating any more financial burden to the American taxpayer.”
IBJ Newsmakers

Answer Midwest gets international award recognition

    ALTON — Answer Midwest, Inc. has been honored with the ATSI 2014 Diamond Plus Award after winning the ATSI Award of Excellence for 13 consecutive years.
    Owned and managed by the Tedrick family since 1991, Answer Midwest has grown from one woman answering phones for a doctor’s office in 1946 to a high tech service center supporting service professionals and businesses all over the country.
    “We work hard to be sure our clients are getting the best service possible,” said Jennifer Schulz, vice president and co-owner. “Winning a prestigious international award confirms we are doing it right.”
    The Association of TeleServices International Award is presented annually to the best providers of telecommunications and call center services in North America and the UK. Independent judges are contracted by ATSI to evaluate message services.
    Service providers are judged on courtesy, response time, accuracy and overall service to their clients. Only 13 services have ever won as many consecutive years as Answer Midwest.
    “The ATSI Award of Excellence is the most prestigious recognition of exemplary customer service in the industry. Award recipients demonstrate the highest level of service throughout every aspect of a caller’s experience, it’s quite an honor,” says ATSI President Sharon Campbell.

 
IBJ Business News

New law, taking effect Jan. 1, protects fraternal order insurance

    SPRINGFIELD  –  People who join fraternal benefit societies for life insurance will have greater protection under a new plan signed into law.
    State Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, the plan’s sponsor, said Senate Bill 646 better regulates the leadership structures of these societies and allows early state intervention in the affairs of struggling organizations. The new rules also allow underperforming societies to transfer members to other benefit societies to avoid insolvency.