FTC, Justice Department’s Antitrust Division want staff reductions

  • Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division recommend cutting some positions in their fiscal 2018 budget requests. The FTC says it plans to save close to $5 million in staff reductions through attrition and a different hiring strategy. Justice’s ATR wants to eliminate 135 positions to bring its total number of employees to 695. (Federal Trade Commission) (Department of Justice)
  • President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would give civilian federal employees a 1.9 percent pay raise. Members of the military would receive 2.1 percent more. But federal employee groups and some lawmakers say the raise does little to undo the damage of the President’s proposed cuts to federal retirement benefits. The President’s 2018 budget also proposes 23,000 additional full-time employees in total for seven agencies. But 17 agencies would see reductions of 24,000 full-time equivalents in 2018. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department’s 2018 budget prioritizes readiness over building up its forces. The $575 billion base budget focuses on modernization, maintenance and training needs for the military. The budget calls for about $52 billion more than what the military received in 2017. The 2018 budget does not build up the military as President Donald Trump said he wanted to do on the campaign trail. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Pentagon is also calling for a handful of cost-saving reforms. The Defense Department says it can save about $2 billion by cobbling together several different initiatives. For instance, new spending on business IT systems will have to be approved by the deputy chief management officer, and the Defense Travel System will be tweaked so that domestic plane reservations default to the lowest available fare. Meanwhile, the department will ask Congress for permission to charge current military retirees more for their health coverage, and to conduct a new round of base closures starting in 2021. (Federal News Radio)
  • One of the new ideas contained in the Trump administration’s budget proposal is causing a stir. The White House’s plan calls for merging the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Bloomberg reports the idea was originally recommended by the Heritage Foundation as a way to promote government efficiency. The idea is not being well received from experts on both sides of the political spectrum. Pamela Coukos, former OFCCP senior program adviser under the Obama administration, said merging the two agencies would take more time and money. (Bloomberg)
  • President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request calls for a $1.6 billion increase in federal IT spending to $95 billion. But 14 of the major agencies will see decreases or stay flat. The Defense Department would receive the biggest total increase of nearly $4 billion. The departments of Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security would make up a large majority of the rest of the agencies in line for more funding. Meanwhile, EPA, Commerce and USDA would see the largest decreases either by percentage or by total dollars. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Donald Trump finally announced his pick for the new director of the Office of Personnel Management. He nominated George Nesterczuk to lead OPM. He was a senior adviser at the agency during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. He helped develop and implement pay for performance systems and the National Security Personnel System for the Defense Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • Small businesses would receive an extra layer of change order protection under newly introduced legislation. The Small Business Payment for Performance Act requires agencies to pay 50 percent of costs to contractors, while a request for equitable adjustment is pending. Current rules for federal change order don’t include this partial payment directive. (House Small Business Committee)
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is keeping a keen eye on the progress of the Senate’s VA Accountability legislation. Shulkin said he was pleased the Veterans Affairs Committee will be taking it up in a mark up hearing today. He cited the recent case of a VA employee returning to work after being arrested for driving drunk as proof the law is needed. (Department of Veterans Affairs)