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FCW Insider: Jan. 25

As furloughed feds and those working without pay face a second missed paycheck on day 35 of the shutdown, some in Congress are looking for ways to pay feds outside of a funding deal. Adam Mazmanian has more.

The shutdown is having lasting effects on the mission at the Department of Homeland Security, from cybersecurity to emergency response, according to former senior agency officials. Mark Rockwell reports.

Terry Carpenter, the program executive officer for the National Background Investigation Service, says that some big milestones for the emergent vetting service are coming this summer. Lauren C. Williams has the story.

The upcoming expiration of a handful of key provisions in the Patriot Act at the end of the year could set up another battle in Congress over the size and scope of U.S. surveillance authorities. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) talked to Derek B. Johnson about what's in store.

Without the cash reserves and diverse portfolios of major contractors, small businesses with contracts at shuttered agencies are facing big problems during the shutdown. One big issue is that they're not getting paid for some work that was performed and invoiced before the lapse in appropriations. Adam explains.

Today is the final day to submit a Fed 100 nomination. Troy K. Schneider details what you need to know.

Quick Hits

*** As expected, the Senate voted down two proposals to reopen the government in a pair of votes on Jan. 24. The first vote, which included White House-backed legislation for $5.7 billion for a border wall, failed to advance on a 50-47 vote. A second vote on a House-passed bill to re-open the government on a continuing resolution through Feb. 8 that had no wall funding failed on a 52-44 vote. In each case, 60 votes were needed to advance.

After the vote, Senate leaders met to discuss a plan to reopen the government on a continuing resolution. During those talks, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement saying that "the three-week CR would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that a "big down payment" was not "a reasonable agreement between the senators."

*** A congressionally chartered commission published its interim report on the future of public service on day 33 of the partial government shutdown. Against this inauspicious backdrop, the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service sounded some familiar notes of alarm about the prospects of attracting young people to government in its report.

"We have learned that national service suffers from a lack of broad awareness about potential opportunities and significant barriers to access for many young Americans who might otherwise have a desire to serve," the report states. The commission cited cumbersome hiring processes as well as barriers to leaving and returning to public service. Some of the proposals the committee is considering include adopting a universal service program, either mandatory or "formally" encouraged, as well as expanding the selective service requirement to include women.

Before the final report to Congress is due in March 2020, the commission will hold a series of public hearings to gauge feedback, the first of which will be in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21. 

*** Even without the shutdown, federal agencies are at risk of failure under the stress of extreme crisis, according to a new study released by the Senior Executives Association.

The study, titled Are Declines in U.S. Federal Workforce Capabilities Putting Our Government at Risk of Failing, argues that the confluence of several factors -- the decline of the nonpartisan civil service, the rise of new and technologically driven risks including the threat of cyberattacks, the increasing polarization of Congress along ideological lines and the pay gap between senior government and private sector positions -- is putting the U.S. government in a bad position when it comes to confronting and adapting to the pace of social and political change.

The conclusions of the study, said SEA president Bill Valdez, "are chilling and should put our nation on high alert that vital national institutions are in danger of failing just when we need them the most."

Posted on Jan 25, 2019 at 12:38 AM


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