Senate bill would make it harder for political appointees to become civil servants

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  • A Senate committee proposed a stronger law to prevent political appointees from working as civil servants. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee bill will bar appointees from becoming career federal employees for two years after leaving their appointments. The bill was advanced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). The bill would also put former politicians on a two-year probation period once they do become career. A similar bill passed the House in 2017. (Congress.gov)
  • Federal agencies will be closed Dec. 5 to honor the passing of President George H.W. Bush. An executive order directs department heads to determine which offices and personnel will be required for essential duties. The closure will come two days before a Congressional deadline to pass seven appropriations bills to keep several agencies running. (Federal News Network)
  • A new policy from the Office of Special Counsel may put restrictions on federal workers from talking about presidential impeachment while on the clock, OSC said. A memo put out last week said employees would be allowed to discuss impeachment, but advocating for or against it may violate the Hatch Act. (Federal News Network)
  • A leading Conservative think tank will advocate for the government to move to a pay-for-performance model. John York, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, dismissed the 1.9 percent pay raise Congress is considering. Instead, he said agencies should fix the employee appraisal system and develop a new pay-for-performance system, by reviewing what the 20 states currently using the approach are doing. (Heritage Foundation)
  • Three senator recommendations to improve and reform the federal budget and appropriations processes failed to garner enough support. Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) offered 11 ideas to the Joint Select Committee, but not enough lawmakers voted for the changes. Among the recommendations were changing the end of the fiscal year to December 31 from September 30, and canceling all recesses and travel if the Senate doesn’t pass a budget on time. (Sen. James Lankford)
  • House Republicans began naming ranking members to committees. Notable among these, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) remains the top republican of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Also, Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) will become ranking member of the homeland security committee, graduating from his chairmanship of the transportation security subcommittee. (Federal News Network)
  • A new cyber reskilling academy from the Office of Management and Budget, will look to identify the next generation of IT talent from current federal employees. Federal Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent said it will aim to fill a “critical shortage” of cyber talent in government. The application on CIO.gov closes Jan. 11. Students chosen for the academy will take courses between March and June. Those who complete the program will take positions as cyber defense analysts. (Federal News Network)
  • The House wants to lift up the stature of the Federal CIO. House lawmakers took a major step to codify the title of federal chief information officer and finally retire the term e-government. The House easily passed the Federal CIO Authorities Act on Nov. 30. The bill, sponsored by Congressmen Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), would make the federal CIO a permanent and presidential appointee. It also would reauthorize and rename the Office of E-Government and IT as the Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer. There is no Senate companion bill. (Rep. Will Hurd)
  • The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate launched a multi-year program to address GPS vulnerabilities. It’s is part of the agency’s outreach to industry to protect critical infrastructure. DHS said satellite-based GPS signals are low-power and un-encrypted, making them vulnerable to disruption. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • A new survey found overwhelming public support for the military as an institution, but mixed views on whether it ought to grow. In its first-ever annual poll on defense attitudes, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation found 93 percent of Americans said they have confidence in the military as a general matter. 55 percent thought the size of the military was about right, and only 28 percent said it’s too small.  75 percent said they would support spending more on defense. When it comes to the idea of establishing a new Space Force, opinions were split: 48 percent for and 43 percent against. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation)
  • A realignment of the Pentagon’s medical resources could hopefully save lives in future conflicts. DoD’s newly centralized Defense Health Agency will put an emphasis on service collaboration, uniformity of medical equipment and advanced medical education. The Surgeons General of the services said those qualities could keep troops alive longer in conventional warfare. (Federal News Network)
  • A former Justice Department employee plead guilty to lying to banks about the source of millions of dollars sent from overseas. DOJ said George Higginbotham was a Senior Congressional Affairs Specialist at the agency. He admitted to helping facilitate the transfer of tens of millions of dollars from foreign banks, to help fund a lobbying campaign, looking to end another DOJ investigation. (Department of Justice)