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The president’s plan for NASA emphasizes commercial services to support U.S. space objectives. President Trump seeks $19.6 billion for NASA in 2019, or $500 million more, but slightly below 2017 funding. After next year would come cuts from ending U.S. support for the International Space Station by 2025, in favor of commercial development. The emerging budget architecture would have low-earth orbit work mainly commercial, with NASA funding aimed at landing people on the moon and eventually Mars. (White House) [Page 107]
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 doubles down on many of the government reorganization goals he made a year ago. It aims to cut $25 billion from the federal budget by eliminating agency programs, as well as shuttering more than 20 independent agencies. The budget proposal would also move the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, once it’s done being built. Trump’s budget would have the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate hand it over to USDA. (Federal News Radio)
The Trump administration proposes a pay freeze for civilian federal employees in 2019. The White House also suggests slowing the step increases in the General Schedule over time. President Trump says he supports moving to a pay for performance system in his 2019 budget request, which includes major changes to the current sick and leave system. The budget suggests federal employees no longer receive separate categories of leave, but one big category, with fewer time off. (Federal News Radio)
President Trump includes several familiar changes to the current federal retirement system in his 2019 budget proposal. He suggests increasing federal employee contribution, eliminating the Social Security supplement for employees who retire before 62, and eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment for employees in the Federal Employee Retirement System. The budget also funds a study that explores the benefits of moving new federal employees to a defined contribution plan. (Federal News Radio)
The budget the Defense Department rolled out yesterday includes the biggest military pay increase in years. The Pentagon’s proposal would boost military basic pay by 2.6 percent – higher than the 2.4 percent increase Congress approved for 2018. If approved, it would be the biggest raise servicemembers have seen in the past nine years. Those raises are pegged to the Employment Cost Index, a measure of wages in the private economy. The budget blueprint also expands the number of troops across the military services: active duty end strength would rise by 26,000 troops in 2019, and 56,000 by 2023. (Federal News Radio)
The Defense Department wants an $18 billion increase for future technologies in 2019 and asking Congress for nearly $91 billion in research and development funding. The money will go toward hypersonic technologies, artificial intelligence and cyber defense. DoD says it wants to maintain technological superiority. (Federal News Radio)
DoD will not ask for a new round of Base Realignment and Closures in 2019. Comptroller David Norquist says the Pentagon will work with Congress to find areas to make reforms that don’t create obstacles with Congress. Norquist also says DoD will use the audit of the Pentagon to improve the data behind BRAC requests. (Federal News Radio)
A month into 2018 and we have our first major merger and acquisition among government contractors. General Dynamics is buying CSRA for $9.6 billion in cash and stock options and acceptance of debt. CSRA won $1.4 billion in contracts in 2017 from the government, across both the civilian and defense sectors. One of CSRA’s biggest wins recently was to provide cloud services to the military under the MilCloud program. General Dynamics won 6-point-4 billion in contracts in 2017, according to the USASpending.gov site. (Federal News Radio)
Federal spending on technology is expected to increase in 2019. The White House proposes almost $46 billion for civilian agency technology spending in 2019, which is up about $200 million from the 2018 request. The Trump administration wants to give 16 of 25 major agencies some increase. For example, the departments of State, Commerce and Energy would receive at least $300 million more next year. EPA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also would see significant increases by percentage. The White House didn’t include details of the Defense Department’s IT budget request in its proposal.
The FBI might get a new headquarters right where the old one is standing. The General Services Administration and FBI propose demolishing the J. Edgar Hoover building in downtown Washington D.C., and building a new facility in its place. It walks back a decade-old plan for a consolidated headquarters in suburban Virginia or Maryland. More than 2,000 FBI workers would also move out to new facilities in Idaho, West Virginia and Alabama. (Federal News Radio)
A group of good government organizations write to U.S. Special Counsel Henry Kerner asking he look into a gag order at the Justice Department. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo last month preventing Justice attorney, officers and others from communicating with members of Congress without first consulting with the department’s Legislative Affairs office. A move the organizations say violates the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. The Government Accountability Project, Project on Government Oversight, and Public Citizen all signed the letter.
Kevin Deeley, the Justice Department’s deputy chief information officer, passed away suddenly over the wekeend. Deeley had been DoJ’s deputy CIO since 2012 and served as the acting CIO of the agency. Deeley worked at Justice since 1984, and also served as the Justice’s chief information security officer. The funeral service is scheduled for Thursday in Catonsville, Maryland.