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The House plans to vote Thursday on an omnibus of six appropriations bills which would reopen government and give federal employees a 1.9 percent pay raise in 2019. House Democrats said they’re also working on legislation to guarantee back pay for duration of the partial shutdown. It looked unlikely the Senate will take up the House omnibus. (House Appropriations Committee)
The controversial Holman Rule is no more in the 116th Congress. Incoming House leadership unveiled its new rules package which does not include the provision allowing any member to reduce the number of employees working at a particular agency or cut the salary of a specific employee through the amendment process on an appropriations bill. The 115th Congress reinstated the Holman Rule, which dates back to 1876, in 2017 and 2018. Lawmakers attempted to use it and failed twice in recent years. (House Rules Committee Democrats)
The Office of Personnel Management updated its guidance for furloughed federal employees who want to file for unemployment during the partial government shutdown. OPM said furloughed employees may be eligible for the Unemployment Compensation Federal Employees program, and eligibility requirements for unemployment depend on each state. Federal employees should check requirements for the state they work in. (Federal News Network)
The Labor Department might be funded and open, but it has issues. Labor’s online system for seasonal workers to file H-2B visas crashed Jan. 1 and the system, known as i-CERT, remained down Thursday morning. Bloomberg reported the system went down when nearly 100,000 workers applied for 33,000 visas. On the personnel front, Labor announced two recent departures. Acting Wage and Hour Administrator Bryan Jarrett will resign as of Friday, Jan. 4. The Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs, Jeff Grappone, resigned as of Thursday. (Bloomberg Law)
A new white paper laid out how technology vendors, white hat hackers, and software developers can work better with Congress. The paper has two goals: To provide a resource for prospective vendors and civic hackers to help them navigate the structures and procedures involved in working with Congress, and to identify opportunities for reform, which will help create a better functioning Congress that can leverage modern tools to do its job better. The paper was written by Ken Ward, a former Capitol Hill Staffer, and Zach Graves, head of policy at government technology think tank the Lincoln Network. (Lincoln Network)
Women-owned small businesses may have a better shot at entering the federal contracting market. The federal government fell short of its women-owned small business goal in fiscal 2017 but through its Challenge-Her program the Small Business Administration, the group Women Impacting Public Policy, and American Express, looks to give female small-business owners a crash-course in government procurement. (Federal News Network)
A proposal from the Interior Department looks to put new restrictions on Freedom of Information Act requests, after a 30 percent increase in overall requests between fiscal 2016 and 2018. It would give Interior more flexibility to put more requests on a slower processing track, and would require requesters to be more specific in their FOIA requests. The agency said the Office of the Secretary has seen more than a 200 percent increase in FOIA requests in that time period. (Federal Register)
President Donald Trump said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has made too many oversight details public. Trump told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, he’d like SIGAR to make more of its reports private. John Sopko has held the inspector general post since July 2012. (C-SPAN)
Another key leadership change for the Defense Department. David Norquist is being named the acting deputy secretary of Defense. Norquist has been serving as DoD’s comptroller and Chief Financial Officer since 2017. One of Norquist’s top tasks so far has been to get the department through its first-ever financial audit. The new acting secretary, Patrick Shanahan, said Norquist is a logical choice to serve as the Pentagon’s number two official, since he has wide-ranging knowledge of the department’s operations.