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A freshman congressman introduced legislation in support of federal workers suffering from financial hardship during the partial government shutdown. California Congressman TJ Cox’s bill would require the Treasury Department to provide interest-free loans to the more than 800,000 federal workers affected by the partial shutdown. 84 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors. The legislation will help workers pay their bills and meet other financial obligations. (Rep. TJ Cox)
Some federal employees will likely get another furlough notice in the next couple of days. The Office of Personnel Management said agencies need to send second shutdown furlough notices when it goes beyond the 30 day mark. OPM said agencies should send furlough notices by email or physical mail. The notices shouldn’t authorize agencies to bring employees back in for orderly shutdown activities, since most agencies already handled that work. (Federal News Network)
The State Department can pay its workforce for the next 15 days. William Todd, deputy under secretary for management, first notified furloughed employees Thursday to start reporting back to work this week. Employees still won’t get back pay for any hours on or before Jan. 19, until the shutdown ends. (Federal News Network)
The longer the shutdown goes, the more generalized its effects on the economy. President Trump’s own economics adviser, Kevin Hassett, doubled his estimate of the downturn in weekly economic output to 0.13 percent per week. Bloomberg Government estimated government contractor receipts are down by $200 million per day. The bigger the company, the greater the losses. Estimates of the number of contractor people not working top one million. A weekend offer from Trump also failed to convince Democrats.
The Office of Management and Budget will cancel congressional travel using government-owned or rented aircraft due to the partial government shutdown. Acting OMB Director Russell Vought said Congress can’t use government aircraft support to travel, without permission from the White House Chief of Staff. No funds are appropriated for any congressional travel delegation expenses without advance permission. (White House)
The Federal Aviation Administration wants to ease regulations on commercial drones flying over people, and at night. Drone operators currently need a waiver from the FAA to fly under those conditions. The agency will post the draft rule and allow public comments on it once the partial shutdown ends. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the proposal at a meeting of the Transportation Research Board. The FAA will post the draft rule, and allow the public to comment, once the partial government shutdown ends. (Federal Aviation Administration)
Michael Horowitz and Allison Lerner will continue to lead the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Effectiveness for another two-year term. The council elects Horowitz, the IG for the Justice Department, for a third term as chairman. Horowitz then re-appointed Lerner, the IG of the National Science Foundation, to be vice-chairman for third term as well. Under their leadership, CIGIE has become more transparent through oversight.gov, which lists every IG report issued from across the government. (CIGIE)
The Navy will consider the creation of a new politically appointed leader to oversee IT and data issues. The Navy Department essentially abolished the position of chief information officer a little under a year ago. Now it may be headed in the other direction. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said the department may create a new assistant secretary for information management, with duties ranging from data governance and cloud management to cybersecurity. The department delegated many of those duties to the Navy and Marine Corps last March. (Federal News Network)
Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is still digging out after being devastated by Hurricane Michael last October. The Air Force said there’s still 13 million pounds of scrap metal to remove from the base. The Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services removed two million pounds of metal in the last two weeks. It could take six months before all the metal is cleared. (Defense Logistics Agency)
Two thirds of operationally critical military installations will be threatened by disasters caused by climate change in the next 20 years, according to a new report from the Defense Department. 53 installations are currently at risk for flooding and seven more will be in the near future. The study was mandated by the 2018 defense authorization bill. The study stated that wildfires threaten 36 installations and that number will rise to 43 by 2038. (Defense Department)
The Energy Department has its first net zero energy building. The Nevada National Security Site unveiled a 424 kilowatt array under its Mercury Solar Project making it the first Energy Department facility to have a net zero energy building. This means the array for the fire station provides the same or more energy back to the power grid than it uses. In fact, NNSS said the extra power generated from the solar array will also enable the first new building on the campus to count as a net-zero energy facility. Construction on that facility began this month. The Nevada site is modernizing its buildings as part of a sustainability plan to earn LEED gold status. (Energy Department)
The Veterans Affairs Department is one step closer to achieving appeals modernization. Regulations are out now on implementing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act. The new law would give veterans three options to pursue their appeals, supplemental claim, a higher-level review, or a direct appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. The new law will be effective Feb. 19. (Department of Veterans Affairs)