SBA cited for failure to respond to inquiries after Hurricane Harvey

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  • The inspector general’s office at the Small Business Administration (SBA) said the agency needed to improve its response to public requests in the wake of natural disasters.  Specifically, the watchdog office said SBA worked quickly to provide assistance in the days following Hurricane Harvey last September, but did not meet its response rate goal for calls and emails. The report found more than 15,000 calls and 2,300 went unanswered in a week following the storm. It also said SBA had a substantial backlog of loan applications following the event. (SBA/IG)
  • The federal government shutdown moved into its third day Monday, but there were hopes that a noon vote in the Senate would re-open the government through Feb. 8, giving the Senate time to work on immigration issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivs (DACA) program.  (Federal News Radio)
  • All federal employees were told to show up for work Monday morning, at least for a half-day, in order to proceed with an orderly shutdown before leaving work. Government operations varied by agency. Some agencies, such as the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, told employees to show up for the entire week as they have enough multi-year appropriations to remain open beyond the shutdown. Employees were advised to contact their home agency for guidance on reporting for duty. (Federal News Radio)
  • Government contractors may have to stop working, and subsequently lose pay, due to the shutdown.  Other contractors could continue working, if they are teamed  with an agency deemed critical, such as military operations, social security or a Veterans Affairs hospital. Contractors were advised to contact their contracting officials for guidance. (WTOP)
  • Ten Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.),  introduced a bill on Friday to withhold pay for members of Congress during a government shutdown. Currently, members of Congress get paid during lapses in appropriations — unless they specify otherwise. Several other members announced plans to withhold their pay or donate congressional salaries to charity for the duration of a shutdown. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal judge decided nearly a year ago in favor of employees excepted during the last shutown in 2013. A class action suit filed by D.C. attorney Heidi Burakiewicz alleged the government violated the fair labor standards act in not paying them in a timely manner. The suit included 25,000 people, all of whom were entitled to compensation. (Government Executive)
  • The  Defense Department (DoD) told non-essential employees to say home Monday for the shutdown. New guidance from the Pentagon also ordered active-duty troops, civilians working on essential national security jobs or medical activities to report for work. Troops cannot be paid for duty performed after the shutdown began Saturday, but their paychecks will be delayed only if the government closure lasts beyond Feb. 1. On Sunday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that troops were all but certain to get their pay. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department’s new National Defense Strategy was unveiled Friday, and is being touted by the Trump Administration as the first new National Defense Strategy released since 2008. The main focus of the new strategy moves DoD’s main focus away from terrorism and back to state-level threats such as China and Russia.  The unclassified summary of the strategy singles out China’s military modernization and expansion in the South China Sea, and Russia’s actions to undermine democratic processes in Eastern Europe as key threats to U.S. power.(Defense Dept.)
  • Two Army captains who met at West Point returned there to be married earlier this month. The wedding for Capts. Daniel Hall and Vincent Franchino is believed to be the first same-sex marriage ceremony at the storied New York military academy.  Both men are Apache helicopter pilots stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. (NY Times)