Feds could lose up to $2B in pay during shutdown

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  • The 800,000 federal workers impacted by the partial government shutdown could potentially miss out on more than $2 billion in pay. And at the same time, owe almost $500 million in mortgage and rent payments. These numbers come from the Center for American Progress and Zillow, the online real estate data platform. The organizations estimated the shutdown’s financial effect on furloughed and unpaid workers by reviewing personnel pay data and mortgage and rental information. (Center for American Progress)
  • A House companion joined a Senate bill designed to guarantee back pay for low-wage federal contractors. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill to retroactively pay federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers during the partial government shutdown. Congressmen Don Beyer (D-Va.) Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) co-sponsored, along with newbies David Trone (D-Va.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.). Norton introduced similar legislation back in 2013. (Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton)
  • Government ethics experts warned federal employees to choose their words carefully when soliciting personal donations during the government shutdown. People describing themselves as federal employees impacted by the shutdown have begun setting up pages on online donation sites like GoFundMe. The Office of Government Ethics has guidelines on accepting gifts as a federal employee. But OGE guidance doesn’t mention whether federal workers can accept donations over the typical $20 limit to help make ends meet during a government shutdown. (Federal News Network)
  • The shutdown is making one agency’s staffing shortfall even worse. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said training programs for new controllers are delayed because of the shutdown. The union worries they might be canceled, meaning the FAA could hire fewer controllers in 2019 than the 1,400 planned. NATCA said the air traffic control organization still hasn’t recovered, staff-wise, from reductions caused by sequestration in 2013. Staffing has fallen by more than 1,000. (National Air Traffic Controllers Association)
  • House Armed Service Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said declaring a national emergency and using military construction funds to build a border wall would do a disservice to the military, since its installations and facilities are in dire straits and need the funds provided by Congress. President Trump suggested he may go that route to get a barrier on the southern border. If the president declares a national emergency, $16.4 billion dollars in military construction funds could be opened for the wall. (Federal News Network)
  • Democratic senators in Maryland and Virginia are urging their colleagues, not to vote on any other legislation until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings forward legislation to reopen government. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (R-Va.) and Mark Warner (R-Va.) said the first order of business should be passing bills to end the government shutdown. They wrote to their Democratic colleagues, asking them to highlight the impacts of a government shutdown on the federal workforce. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
  • The Pentagon tapped Eric Chewning as the new chief of staff to the defense secretary. The announcement came just two days after Kevin Sweeney resigned the post. Chewning formerly served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy and served in the Army as an intelligence officer. (Department of Defense)
  • DoD’s first financial audit shows outdated information technology is a major reason it’s failed to get its books in order. The Pentagon’s inspector general compiled more than 2,000 findings and recommendations from the more than 1,000 independent auditors that spent the past year scouring the military services. Of those, 46 percent had to do with IT systems – not financial management, per se. The DoD inspector general said IT weaknesses are among the most urgent challenges the department needs to solve before it can pass an audit. It’s spent billions to replace its legacy systems with modern ones, but DoD has faced numerous delays in implementing them. (Federal News Network)
  • The Government Publishing Office tapped a new vendor to print census forms, and more, for the 2020 count. The agency awarded the $114 million contact to R.R. Donnelly and Sons Company of Chicago. GPO had awarded the contract to Cenveo last November, but the company declared bankruptcy. The Justice Department terminated GPO’s contract with Cenveo through a settlement last summer. (Government Publishing Office)
  • The Government Publishing Office also appointed a new acting inspector general. James Ives will take over after leaving NASA as assistant IG for investigations. Before that, he spent 22 years working for the Defense Department’s IG office. Ives replaces Melinda Miguel, who left this week after having started as the GPO IG in July. (Government Publishing Office)
  • One Treasury bureau aims to kill the password dead. The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Fiscal Service is standardizing and improving user authentication for more than 10 of the services it offers to citizens and businesses. The bureau developed a strategy and vision to apply two-factor authentication to its services and finally kill the password dead. BFS will develop an enterprise hub or a federation bridge, for all programs to authenticate its citizen and business customers. Among the services the Fiscal Service will apply new user authentication standards to www.pay.gov and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. (Federal News Network)