COMMENTARY

Pink slips and budgets

Members of Congress are well into their August recess, meeting with constituents and raising funds for their re-election campaigns. We would love to join in those discussions with the folks back home, but we suspect those are different conversations about money than the kind we would most like to have.

It’s not a secret that the government’s budgeting process is broken. But there is so much heat about other issues — such as the size of government and the “fiscal cliff” — that there is little attention paid to the fact that agencies need to know how much Congress wants them to spend, on what and when. No reputable company could operate for three-quarters of its fiscal year without a budget, yet this is now standard operating procedure in Washington.

Some defense contractors have been trying to change the conversation by letting elected officials know that if the sequestration process proceeds, hundreds of thousands of workers will be laid off. In fact, the pink slips are due to be delivered right before the election.

The companies say they are required to take these actions under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, but many believe the companies are trying to connect the dots between spending cuts and employment in a legislator’s district — just in time for those trips back home.

That threat, among other factors, might have gotten Congress’ attention. No real appropriations are in sight yet, but both sides seem ready to stop fighting for a moment and pass a six-month continuing resolution that will once again kick the can down the road.

Better than a government shutdown, to be sure. But it says a lot about the budget limbo we live in that yet another continuing resolution counts as progress.

About the Author

Anne Armstrong is Co-President & Chief Content Officer of 1105 Public Sector Media Group.

 

 


The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 Lee MO

If congress doesn't agree on a complete spending bill for the FY 13 by November, NOT a 3 or 6 month extention, we the people should vote every settin member out if they are up for reelection. If our representatives can't perform their duties they are elected to do (which includes setting a budget for the next FY prior to it start) we need to get rid of them.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 SmallBizPres

We've already told some of our senior consultants and engineers to start looking for other jobs. To conserve cash we'll also be terminating some of our less essential employees in late Sept. Can't afford to take the chance. The survival of our company is at stake.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above