Congress demands White House transparency on sequestration

Congress on July 18 easily passed a bill requiring the Obama administration to detail how it will handle sweeping budget cuts set to be enacted Jan. 3, when sequestration will take effect.

The House passed the bipartisan Sequestration Transparency Act by a vote of 414-2, ordering the president to report within 30 days on how he plans to implement $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next 10 years, which would be triggered by sequestration if Congress does not intervene.

“All this is saying is, ‘Mr. President, show us your hand, show us your plan,’” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who authored the bill. “Let the American people know what the true impact is going to be on our national defense, on our economy, on a number of vital services, because you have the discretion.”

The bill calls for greater details on spending reductions in defense and non-defense areas, including estimates of amounts and percentages to be cut. The language also asks for a list of functions exempt from the cuts as well as “any other data and explanations that enhance public understanding of the sequester and actions to be taken under it.”

Additionally, the legislation directs heads of federal agencies to consult with congressional appropriations committees and provide the Office of Management and Budget with information “at the program, project and activity level.”

Similar legislation is currently making its way through the Senate.

The House bill was passed on the same day that executives from several defense contracting companies testified before lawmakers on the impact the threat of sequestration already is having on business, and what they foresee happening in the near future.

At the House Armed Services Committee sequestration hearing, many of them called for greater guidance from the government on how to navigate the impending cuts, and warned of hundreds of thousands of jobs potentially being lost.

“I owe an obligation to my employees to explain this as best as I can…so that they know what might be happening and whether they should go look for another job,” said Della Williams, president of women-owned small business Williams-Pyro. “And I don’t want to lose those people, they’re long time employees. But my hands are tied if all this happens.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Fri, Jul 20, 2012

The first we are gonna do is close the military bases and VA hospitals and parks in YOUR districts.....

Fri, Jul 20, 2012

For the crew in the White House & Senate, asking them to have a fiscal plan is like asking your local auto mechanic how to fix a computer...they just don't know how to do it.

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 Amy

What you bet that even though the Legislative Branch almost unanamously directed the Exceutive Branch to reveal what it plans to cut, the Executive Branch will ignore them? This is looking less and less like a representative republic and more like a dictatorship.

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 Olde Sarge DC

The particulars of sequestration are the business of the the department secretaries and their management team, not the President. They are already ramped up, planning for the evenualities of sequestration if Congress cannot do its job of finding the cuts. It is Rep. Henserling and his colleagues in the House and the Senate sho should be forthcoming with a plan to avoid sequestration. That is the whole point of having sequestration in play. Congress, specifically the House, is the appropriator and accessor (taxman), not the executive branch. Sequestration is the mess created by Congress refusing to to find the necessary compromises and cuts to reduce the budget. MR. HENSERLING, DO YOUR JOB!

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group