Reading through the thread on how Cho has done as GM got me thinking, is this organization simply missing on draft picks, or is it failing to properly develop players after they are drafted?
You look at a franchise like the the Spurs, and they seem to always find players deep in the draft who can come in and contribute. But its not that they are just excellent at drafting, they put their players in a position to succeed and improve. Kawhi Leonard, for example, wasnt much of a shooter in college (he was actually quite similar to MKG in that area), but after a couple seasons in San Antonio he is a legit threat from the corner, and developing that outside shooting threat has let the rest of his game improve as well.
That kind of improvement, particularly on offense, just doesnt seem to happen with players in Charlotte. Biz still cant catch a pass, MKG cant shoot, Gerald Henderson still isnt a 3 point threat, and Kemba, while the best of the bunch, hasnt improved his distribution and still looks like the guy from UCONN.
I think Clifford is a great coach, and is already up there with Thibs as one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA. But I'm worried that if this team tries to focus on actually winning games (as they seem interested in doing), player development is going to be less of a priority at a time when it had never been more important considering how young this team is.
North Carolina’s environment agency has taken the unusual step of returning a federal grant to study streams and wetlands that could be harmed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had itself recommended last year that baseline water-quality data be collected where drilling might occur. The information would help document any problems linked to drilling.
But under new leadership appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the department now says it doesn’t want the $222,595 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The department also returned a second grant of $359,710 for wetlands monitoring.
Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder said the fracking study will be done, but not now and not by the unit that applied for the grant. The Program Development Unit, which housed experts in aquatic ecosystems, is being disbanded in a reorganization of the division.
Reeder said other scientists within the division are equipped to do the work. It will start, he said, once the location and start of fracking, and pollutants of concern, become clear.
“We know we have to have this data,” Reeder said. “I don’t think we can move forward with fracturing, by statute, without this data.”
The part of North Carolina most likely to be tapped is in the Sanford Basin of Lee County, southwest of Raleigh.
The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, which is charged with developing rules on fracking, has asked the department to explain the return of the EPA grant at its Friday meeting, Reeder said.
The Sierra Club questioned the state’s giving up the money, which was first reported by the N.C. Coastal Federation. Molly Diggins, the group’s N.C. director, said it makes no sense for the state to walk away from federal money after legislators cut $2 million from water programs this year.
“This is not a grant being imposed on North Carolina by a federal agency that doesn’t really know what we need,” she said. “This was a grant being sought by DENR to meet known challenges.”
Diggins added: “It raises the concern of whether this is part of a trend of backing away from science.”
If you’re saving up for a next-generation console, then it’s also worth remembering that the $499.99 device comes with some additional costs. Accessories for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, by and large, won’t work with the next generation, meaning that you won’t be able to use your old controllers to supplement the one that comes in the Xbox One box
New xbox controllers will set you back $60 a piece, while a headset made to work with the new console costs $25. According to Microsoft’s Xbox Support Twitter feed, an Xbox One adapter for older headsets is in the works, but the company hasn’t offered more information on that ahead of the console’s planned launch in late 2013.
Meanwhile, Sony has said that the controller for its PlayStation 4 will also be $60 and is available for pre-order at Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and GameStop. Sony’s PlayStation Camera, also $60, is also up for pre-order on those sites.
I'm surprised the PS4 isnt more, what with the screen on it.
At $530 billion this fiscal year, the budget for the Department of Defense is the federal government’s largest agency and third biggest spending item, trailing only the amount spent on Social Security and the two big health programs Medicare and Medicaid
Having a budget for the Pentagon is a curious thing, according to Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. The reason? The Pentagon, he says, has no idea how much money it actually has or how much it actually spends or wastes.
"Despite the fact that the Pentagon is the largest and most expensive department in the federal government, it has never passed a financial audit," he says on his House website. "In fact, under current law, the Pentagon is exempt from a federal law that requires all federal agencies to complete annual audits."
As far back as 1995, the General Accountability Office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, deemed the Pentagon’s financial management to be "high risk."
In 2000, the GAO found that nearly one third of the accounting entries in the Pentagon's budget were untraceable.
In 2009, the GAO said its auditors "have continued to report significant weaknesses in the department’s ability to provide timely, reliable, consistent, and accurate information for management analysis, decision-making, and reporting."
The next year, the GAO found that half of the Pentagon's $366 billion in contract awards were never even completed.
And in yet another 2010 report, the GAO found that the Pentagon’s effort to install a system to make itself "auditable" were taking on the personality of a new weapons system - over budget and behind schedule. In this case, the GAO said that two-thirds of the systems the Department of Defense is putting in place to make its budget auditable have slipped years in implementation and doubled in cost -- to more than $13 billion.
The GAO also showed why the ability of the Pentagon to audit itself is important. Among the problems:
The Army can’t be sure that it doesn’t overdraw its personnel expenditures account, which funds soldier pay, enlistment bonuses and other benefits;
The Defense Department still can’t "reliably identify, aggregate and report the full cost of its investment" in weapons systems — currently estimated at more than $1 trillion — and doesn’t have enough information to manage and reduce the billions it spends each year on weapons operations and support costs;
Databases tracking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Army property are improperly managed.
How the Pentagon’s payroll quagmire traps soldiers
The Pentagon agency that identifies overpayments is the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, or DFAS. This agency, with headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, has roughly 12,000 employees and, after cuts under the federal sequester, a $1.36 billion budget. It is responsible for accurately paying America’s 2.7 million active-duty and Reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
It often fails at that task, a Reuters investigation finds.
A review of individuals’ military pay records, government reports and other documents, along with interviews with dozens of current and former soldiers and other military personnel, confirms Aiken’s case is hardly isolated. Pay errors in the military are widespread.
Precise totals on the extent and cost of these mistakes are impossible to come by, and for the very reason the errors plague the military in the first place: the Defense Department’s jury-rigged network of mostly incompatible computer systems for payroll and accounting, many of them decades old, long obsolete, and unable to communicate with each other. The DFAS accounting system still uses a half-century-old computer language that is largely unable to communicate with the equally outmoded personnel management systems employed by each of the military services.
In a December 2012 report on Army pay, the Government Accountability Office said DFAS and the Army have no way to ensure correct pay for soldiers and no way to track errors. These deficiencies, it said, “increase the risk that the nearly $47 billion in reported fiscal year 2011 Army active duty military payroll includes Army servicemembers who received pay to which they were not entitled and others who did not receive the full pay they were due.”
For all its errors, Pentagon record-keeping is an expensive endeavor. For fiscal 2012, ended Sept. 30, the Defense Department requested $17.3 billion to operate, maintain and modernize the more than 2,200 systems it uses to manage finances, human resources, logistics, property, and weapons acquisitions, according to an April 2012 GAO report. That amount does not include billions of dollars more in each of the military services’ “operations and maintenance” budgets used for upkeep of the systems. Nor does it cover all of DFAS's $1 billion-plus budget.
This way of doing business has also proved resistant to change. A recalcitrant bureaucracy, competing priorities - war, among others - and until recently, congressional indifference have stymied any efforts to impose order. Most notable among those efforts: a project to install a new, unified pay- and personnel-management system that eventually ate more than $1 billion before the Pentagon killed it.
The Pentagon’s record-keeping tangle not only increases the potential for errors; it also forces DFAS to depend heavily on “manual workarounds,” another source of errors. Neither the Pentagon or DFAS or the military services can specify how many workers are used to handle these tasks, but “it takes a massive amount of human effort,” says Roy Wallace, an Army assistant deputy chief of staff.
“At last count, there were 167 manual workarounds” for the 40-year-old pay system used by DFAS and all the services except the Marines, he says. As a result, staff often must transcribe information from one system onto paper, carry it to another office, and hand it off to other workers who then manually enter it into other systems – a process called “finger-gapping” that Wallace faults as a further source of errors.
With the creation of DFAS, ensuring correct pay for soldiers required speedy, efficient communication between the new agency handling payroll and the different military branches, each still running its own personnel operations. No one was prepared.
DFAS, for its part, inherited a pay operation that even at the time was an antique - a 20-year-old Air Force system that DFAS renamed the Defense Joint Military Pay System, or DJMS. It ran, and still runs, on Cobol, a computer language that dates to 1959. Most of the Cobol code the Pentagon uses for payroll and accounting was written in the 1960s, according to 2006 congressional testimony by Zack Gaddy, director of DFAS from May 2004 to September 2008.
Wallace, the Army assistant deputy chief of staff, says the system has “seven million lines of Cobol code that hasn’t been updated” in more than a dozen years, and significant parts of the code have been “corrupted.” The older it gets, the harder it is to maintain. As DFAS itself said: “As time passes, the pool of Cobol expertise dwindles.”
Further, the system is nearly impossible to update because the documentation for it - explaining how it was built, what was in it, and how it works - disappeared long ago, according to Kevin McGraw. He retired recently after working 30 years in DFAS's Cleveland office, most of that time responsible for maintaining the part of DJMS that handles Navy pay. "It's hard to make a change to a program if you don't know what's in there," McGraw says.