Headlines have been dominated this week by the government shutdown, but some things apparently really never do change, things like federal spending, waste, fraud and abuse.

The Washington Examiner's watchdog investigative reporting team, for example, delivered two stories this week that provide vital context and detail about the federal bureaucracy.

In the first story, Ethan Barton, the watchdog team's intern from the National Journalism Center, checked the records and found hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts being awarded after the government shutdown began.

"On the first day of the government shutdown, federal agencies awarded 26 contracts worth more than $130 million. The contracts ranged from chemical paint remover for the Air Force to 'academic uniform shirts' for the Department of Labor," Barton reported.

The day before the government shutdown, Barton found, agencies awarded more than $500 million for 121 contracts. Obviously the bureaucrats were trying to beat the "shutdown rush."

The other story is "Just Sign Here," a five-part series by Luke Rosiak, a senior investigative reporter and the watchdog team's data editor, focuses on an obscure federal agency known as the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Rosiak dug into records of thousands of government purchase card transactions by FMCS employees and found a culture of irresponsibility that almost defies description:

"One federal employee leased a $53,000 take-home car with taxpayer money in apparent defiance of federal regulations and regularly billed the government for service at shops such as BMW of Fairfax.

"Others charged the government monthly for family members’ cell phones and high-end TV packages and Internet at home — and even at second homes.

"Managers freely made out checks to employees without requiring documentation of how it would be spent, giving $1,316 directly to one who said she was reimbursing herself for furniture she bought for a 'home office' and using convenience checks to give workers bonuses.

"Government employees used federal purchase cards to order items such as a $560 Bose stereo and $1,490 for two high-definition televisions that could not be located."

Rosiak also uncovered evidence that FMCS's spending corruption was covered up by top executives, who also attacked whistle blowers and colluded with contractors to get them sweetheart deals.

There is no reason to believe the shutdown has changed anything at FMCS. When these kinds of things happen even during a "shutdown," it's clear the federal government has grown too big to manage.

In Today's Washington Examiner:

Editorial: A modest proposal for compromise

Philip Klein: On the eve of Obamacare, Britain's National Health Service needs therapy

Ron Arnold: Obama's intransigence closed America's natural wonders

Luke Rosiak: Federal officials cede power to contractors to write sweetheart deals

Tim Carney: Sen. Mary Landrieu seeks government relief for two clients of her husband's business partner

Charlie Spiering: Joe Biden thanks National Park Service ranger who blocked WWII veterans at their memorial

Joseph Lawler: On libertarians, Kansas' taxes and inequality

Sean Lengell: Postal Service tries to stem losses

Tim Mak: Plant DNA markers help Pentagon spot counterfeit electronics

Steve Contorno: Battle lines fixed in Congress on how to rein-in NSA

In Other News:

The New York Times: Car chase, White House to Capitol, has fatal end

The Washington Post: The 30 richest members of Congress

The Washington Post: Boehner tells colleagues he will avoid debt limit default

The Wall Street Journal: Stock brokers from expelled firms still selling stocks

The Wall Street Journal: One doubt hanging over Twitter's IPO

USA Today: Obama cancels Asia trip due to shutdown

Telegraph (UK): Britain's economy growing at fastest rate among developed countries

Righty Playbook:

Net Right Daily: The 17 Republicans who caved less than 40 hours into the shutdown

Washington Free Beacon: U.S., Japan upgrade defense ties

American Thinker: The world according to Andrea Mitchell

Lefty Playbook:

Salon: Dumbest extortion attempt ever

Daily Kos: Walsh announces in Montana for Senate seat

Rolling Stone: Looting the public pension funds