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*** Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) reintroduced a bill to guarantee federal employees furloughed under the current partial shutdown back pay when full appropriations are restored and agencies reopen. An identical bill passed the Senate under unanimous consent just after the shutdown started. The new session of Congress requires a new bill, however. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and 28 other lawmakers. The House, now under Democratic control, is likely to pass a similar measure.

*** The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's picks to head the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Census Bureau.

Kelvin Droegemeier, a meteorologist by trade, will helm the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a key advisory post to the president that has been vacant since Trump took office. OSTP also leads programs and policy in these areas domestically, internationally and across agencies. Droegemeier was nominated in August.

The office currently has a far lower number of staffers than it had under the Obama administration, including vacancies at the associate director level for the four OSTP divisions, all presidentially appointed positions.

Steven Dillingham also won confirmation to serve as Census director for a five-year term ending Dec. 31, 2021. Dillingham, nominated in July, takes over the Census Bureau about 12 months before the decennial count is scheduled to begin.

As it gears up for its constitutional mandate, the bureau faces a range of challenges, ranging from cybersecurity risks and IT systems readiness to concerns and litigation surrounding the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 questionnaire. Census has been without a permanent head since June 2017.

*** President Trump signed a bill to make sure agencies keep Congress informed on their progress in making good on recommendations from government watchdogs. The Good Accounting Obligation in Government Act -- GAO-IG Act for short -- requires agencies to include open recommendations from the Government Accountability Office and inspectors general in their budget justifications to Congress.

*** Kelly Olson is leaving GSA's Technology Transformation Services for the private sector. Olson, who had stepped into the TTS acting director role in late August, shared the news with GSA employees via email but did not offer details on her next job.  Anil Cheriyan was named in December as TTS' permanent director, effective this month. 

According to a GSA employee who confirmed Olson's move, additional departures from TTS are imminent.   

Posted on Jan 04, 2019 at 12:38 AM


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