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FCW Insider: Jan. 2

Happy New Year from FCW Insider. 

When Democrats take over the House of Representatives on Jan. 3, one of the first orders of business will be a vote on an appropriations package to reopen all the federal agencies shuttered during the partial shutdown. The package also includes a pay raise for feds, but the lack of wall funding will likely means the measure won't get a vote in the Senate. Is a deal possible? Adam Mazmanian has the story.

With shutdown talks at an impasse, the White House finalized plans to freeze federal pay at 2018 levels. The move was not a big surprise, but the timing appeared awkward, with an estimated 800,000 feds either furloughed or working without pay. Adam reports.

As the government shutdown demonstrates, rank-and-file feds are frequently collateral damage in larger budget and policy fights. The Trump administration was increasingly going after federal unions in 2017 and 2018. Will having a Democratic controlled House change the outlook for unionized feds in 2019? And how are federal managers making out amid talk of a government reorganization? Chase Gunter takes a look.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle took heat in 2018 for botching opportunities to hold tech leaders accountable for privacy violations. Part of the problem is an abject lack of knowledge about the way social media companies use -- and sometimes abuse -- user data. There's been a push in recent years to revive the Office of Technology Assessment, and with Democrats holding the House, 2019 could be the year it happens. Chase explains.

The General Services Administration has big plans for e-commerce in 2019. The federal government's acquisition hub will tackle the complexities involved in translating federal acquisition regulations and practices into an e-commerce platform to let government buyers make small purchases with the ease of a shopper using Amazon.com. Mark Rockwell has the story.

DHS, meanwhile, has a plan to get its newly renamed and empowered cyber agency -- the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency -- fully up and running by 2020. So the coming year is going to be one of planning, policymaking and growth at CISA. Get more from Mark.

While 2019 is an off-year for federal elections, with a run-up to what looks to be a highly contested 2020 vote, there will be a big legislative drive to pass new voting security legislation. House Democrats will likely push new election security legislation in 2019, but obstacles remain in the Senate and the White House. Derek B. Johnson reports.

Finally, don't forget about those Federal 100 nominations.  The deadline is 5pm ET this Friday, Jan. 4. 

Quick Hits

*** The American Federation of Government Employees is suing the federal government over the practice of requiring workers deemed essential to work during a lapse in appropriations, alleging it violates labor law. The lawsuit claims that the practice of withholding paychecks from excepted employees while requiring them to perform their duties is "willful and in conscious or reckless disregard of the requirements of the" Federal Labor Standards Act.

"Positions that are considered 'essential' during a government shutdown are some of the most dangerous jobs in the federal government," said AFGE national president J. David Cox Sr. in a statement. "AFGE members and their families deserve the decency of knowing when their next paycheck is coming and that they will be paid for their work."

The named plaintiffs Justin Tarovisky and Grayson Sharp work in federal prisons. The lawsuit claims their overtime work occurring after the partial shutdown took place was not included in their most recent paycheck. However the lawsuit was filed on behalf of all federal employees tagged with "essential" status during the current shutdown.

*** The Government Accountability Office warned contractors not to sleep on filing bid protests during the current partial lapse in appropriations. GAO is fully funded by the legislative branch appropriation, which was signed in to law last year. In a notice on the GAO website, the congressional agency advised that new bid protests, even those disputing contracting awards made by agencies partially closed during the shutdown, need to be made according to normal filing deadlines. Protestors should not wait for the agencies in question to receive their funding. However, agency counsel can expect to receive extensions as needed.

Posted on Jan 02, 2019 at 1:00 AM


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