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Despite reassurance from OPM and insurance carriers, furloughed employees have received mixed messages about their health insurance coverage. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote to OPM asking how the agency is proactively notifying furloughed feds about their coverage status and how it’s working with providers to ensure continuous coverage. He asked OPM to respond in five days. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
Furloughed federal employees will not be laid off if the government shutdown continues for 30 days or longer. The Office of Management and Budget said regulations on reductions-in-force only apply to planned administrative furloughs, not emergency or shutdown furloughs. Federal regulations instructed agencies to only consider RIFs if an administrative furlough lasts for 30-days or more. (Federal News Network)
Half of the IRS’ total workforce will be exempted if the partial government shutdown extends into the tax filing season. The agency furloughed the vast majority of its employees since the beginning of the shutdown. But the agency said it plans to have more than 46,000 employees work without pay, once the filing season starts on Jan. 28. The agency’s updated contingency plan doesn’t exempt audit work or training. (Federal News Network)
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program will expand its interest-free loans, a day after military members missed their first paycheck because of the government shutdown. The entire workforce – both civilian and military – is now eligible for loans of up to $1,000. Until now, the program was limited to lower pay grades in the organization. The expansion is partly due to a $15-million donation from USAA, a financial services company that mainly serves military members. (U.S. Coast Guard)
The government shutdown may start to affect health care benefits for uniformed service members. For military families and retirees, TRICARE enrollment fees and dental premiums are normally paid through paycheck allotments. But for members of the Coast Guard, the Public Health Service and the NOAA Commissioned Corps, those allotments aren’t being processed because of the shutdown. TRICARE officials said they won’t un-enroll beneficiaries for non-payment, at least for now. But they may need to consider alternative ways to pay their premiums if the shutdown drags on for much longer. (TRICARE)
The Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies, otherwise known as WAEPA, will waive premium fees due this month for its members. WAEPA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to issue this credit in light of the partial government shutdown. Fees are waived for all members, including employees not impacted by the shutdown. WAEPA members who already made a payment this month will be credited on their next bill. WAEPA is a non-profit organization that serves civilian federal employees. (WAEPA)
A federal district judge refused to compel the government to immediately lift the impacts of the partial shutdown on excepted federal employees. The National Treasury Employees Union filed a temporary restraining order on the government shutdown in federal district court. NTEU said it wanted to send a message: Excepted employees should either get paid for their work during a government shutdown, or be sent home. Other lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the government shutdown’s impact on federal employees are still pending. (Federal News Network)
DMV Senate Democrats have asked President Trump to meet with federal employees impacted by the partial government shutdown. Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said meeting with impacted federal employees, would help him better relate to the workers who are missing paychecks due to the government shutdown. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen)
Democrats add 15 new representatives to the House Armed Services Committee. Nine of them are women. The new members include Reps. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), Rebecca Sherrill (D-N.J.) — a former Navy helicopter pilot — and Jason Crow (D-Colo.), who formerly served as an Army ranger. Republican assignments to the committee have not yet been announced.
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) will launch a Maryland-based consortium to link up aerospace and defense firms with educational institutions. The consortium will focus on solving common problems like workforce shortages and issues with an aging workforce. The Defense Department is finding it harder to recruit and retain talent as it competes with private industry and low unemployment rates. The panel will be made up of representatives from DoD, industry, career and technical education organizations, and local universities. (Rep. Anthony Brown)
The House passed, yet again, a bipartisan bill to elevate the role of the federal chief information officer. Lawmakers first approved the bill in November, but failed to get a Senate vote before the end of the last Congress. It would require Senate confirmation for the federal CIO, who would also report to the OMB Director. (Rep. Will Hurd)
The Government Publishing Office’s govinfo portal earned the highest global standard of excellence for digital repositories. GPO is only the second organization in the world to achieve a digital trustworthiness standard under ISO 16363:2012. This means the portal, a one-stop site for authentic, published government information, implemented digital preservation practices to ensure long-term preservation and access. To earn this ISO certification, GPO showed it met 109 criteria around organizational infrastructure, digital object management and security risk management. Over the last three years, GPO has made achieving international certifications a strategic initiative. (Government Publishing Office)