*** The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the Financial Services and General Government funding bill without any addition to the Technology Modernization Fund -- the revolving pot of no-year money authorized by the Modernizing Government Technology Act. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a sponsor of the MGT Act and an appropriator, said at a Sept. 19 markup session that committee chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) indicated willingness to work on the issue as the Senate and House funding packages are conferenced. The House of Representatives voted to add $35 million to the fund.
"I look forward to having some success a little down the road," Moran said.
*** Senate appropriators also backed an Agriculture bill that supports Trump administration efforts to relocate the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service from USDA headquarters to Kansas City. The bill tabs $25 million for the effort. The House of Representatives passed a funding bill in June that blocked the relocations.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in committee that "these agencies do vital work and are strengthened by proximity to other key agencies," adding he hoped that funding for the relocation could be blocked in a final spending bill.
*** Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, introduced a bill designed to increase congressional oversight of the agency inspectors general. The Integrity Committee Transparency Act of 2019 tasks the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency's Integrity Committee to report on allegations against agency IGs and brief Congress about decisions to refer or not refer allegations for further action. The Integrity Committee is charged under law with reviewing allegations against agency IGs.
"Unfortunately, the Integrity Committee has, at times, operated without transparency, which is in contrast with the values of an OIG community whose greatest strength is sunlight," Connolly said. "Our good government, bipartisan legislation would help re-instill confidence in this process and bring accountability to OIGs who might fall short of their obligations and responsibilities."
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