7:59 AM, Aug 10, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
When the president of the United States travels, the White House and the Secret Service bring along a tremendous amount of communications equipment. Not only does the Secret Service set up a command post to coordinate communications for the visits, but secure connections are also needed for the president to keep in touch with Washington and the military around the world in case of emergencies. Despite all of these arrangements, however, a total of $7,540 was spent for foreign-made cell phones for President Obama's recent trip to Ethiopia.
The phones were obtained via a contract signed on July 13, 2015 with a company in Ethiopia identified only as "Miscellaneous foreign awardees," the typical identifier for many overseas contracts with the U.S. government. The contract was handled by the State Department through the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. A compilation of screenshots from the contract is shown here:
It remains unclear exactly who used the cell phones during the Ethiopia visit, or what happened to the phones when the visit was over. After an initial response from the press office of the State Department about the contract, a state department spokesperson subsequently deferred to the White House, saying, "After speaking with my colleagues we think you should contact the WH Press Office for any comment on the President’s trip to Ethiopia."
The White House press office did not respond to a request for an explanation of the cell phone contract.
8:14 AM, Jul 13, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
As he has for much of his post-presidency, Bill Clinton was on the road again in June, traveling to Europe at the end of the month for various conferences and other public appearances. After a few days in London, the president popped over to Paris for a day or two to shop at Hermès, a well-known luxury boutique. Such trips, however, do not come cheap. Hotel contracts for the president's Secret Service team for the Paris leg of the trip alone came to over $48,000.
2:07 PM, Jun 23, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Bill and Hillary Clinton vacationed in the Dominican Republic around New Years, visiting at least two exclusive resorts, Punta Cana and the Casa de Campo. The once-and-possibly-future first couple spent the week, of course, under the watchful eye of the U.S. Secret Service, but the security required for the trip didn't come cheap.
7:09 AM, Jan 30, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Joe Biden kicked off 2015 leading a presidential delegation to Brazil for the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff
10:31 AM, Dec 30, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
With the announcement Monday of a five-year, $563 million contract award to Accenture, the Healthcare.gov contractor that rescued the Obamacare marketplace after 2013's disastrous launch, the total cost of the site will well exceed $2.2 billion.
12:01 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
When President Obama visited Brisbane, Australia in November for the G-20 summit, the large U.S. delegation required multiple hotels and thousands of "room nights" for the length of the stay, though the president himself spent only one night in his hotel.
7:14 AM, Dec 8, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
President Obama stayed only one night in Australia for the G-20 summit, but the entire presidential delegation required over 4,000 rooms costing in excess of $1.7 million for the entire stay. Rooms at three different hotels were reserved for the U.S. delegation, and due to the large number of countries involved in the summit, the Australian government parceled out available hotels to each nation's delegation. The majority of the U.S.
12:54 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Department of Health and Human Services announces another $60 million for Obamacare navigators, a press release from that federal bureaucracy states.
"The Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans who are able to access quality health coverage at a price they can afford, in large part because of the efforts of in-person assisters in local communities across the nation. People shopping for and enrolling in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can get local help in a number of ways, including through Navigators," reads the release.
10:43 AM, Aug 26, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The federal government issued sixty contracts from 2009 to 2014 in efforts to build Healthcare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace.
8:07 AM, Aug 7, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden's trip to Brazil in mid-June for the USA versus Ghana World Cup game and meetings the following day with the president and vice president of Brazil required rental of vehicles for Biden and his entourage costing over $900,000.
Nine in ten heard from clients again with post-enrollment problems.
8:33 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
During the open enrollment period for the state and federal health care exchanges, each staff member and volunteer worked with an average of 1.8 people per day, according to a survey of assister programs released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
7:04 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Vice President Biden and his entourage visited Brazil in mid-June to attend the USA versus Ghana World Cup game, a trip that also included meetings with both the president and vice president of Brazil.
4:16 PM, Jun 27, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There has been a long stagnation following the “Great Recession.” No good news there. Lots of unemployment, hence no competition for labor and, thus, no increase in incomes. But … at least there is no inflation. That, anyway, is what we are told by the engineers with their handles on the economy’s throttles. The Federal Reserve, in fact, would like to see some more inflation.
12:02 PM, Apr 4, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In late March, President Obama took a week-long trip through Europe which included a stop of less than 24 hours in Brussels, Belgium for meetings with the European Union and NATO.