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At least one member of Congress wants to freeze pay for lawmakers when there’s a government shutdown. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) introduced the No Work, No Pay Act. The bill would authorize congressional payroll administrators to dock pay for members of Congress for as long as a government shutdown continues. The bill has no co-sponsors yet. But other members of Congress have separately announced they won’t take a paycheck while federal employees are furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown. (Congress.gov)
The House again passed the financial services and general government appropriations bill to reopen the Treasury Department, IRS, Office of Personnel Management, General Services Administration and other agencies. It also grants back pay to federal employees impacted by the partial shutdown, and includes a 1.9 percent raise for civilian workers. The Senate has indicated though it will not pass any omnibus that is not supported by President Trump. The House passed six appropriations bills as a package last week. But it’s trying to pass each one again, separately, now that the Senate indicated it wouldn’t pass an omnibus the President didn’t support. (Congress.gov)
Plans to issue tax refunds starting Jan. 28 have not quite trickled down. An IRS employee told Federal News Network, he has not yet received word from the agency about an updated contingency plan for the filing season now underway. The agency furloughed 88 percent of its workforce since the shutdown started. A filing season shutdown plan from last year called for exempting more than 43 percent of employees.
A federal employee union issued its second legal challenge to the government shutdown. The National Treasury Employees Union is seeking injuctive relief for the impacts of the government shutdown on federal employees. NTEU argued the Antideficiency Act violates the appropriations clause of the constitution, and even if the act is legal, Office of Management and Budget guidance exempting certain employees from the furlough is inconsistent with the law. The union filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (National Treasury Employees Union)
The Agriculture Department has come up with a solution to keep funding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP during the shutdown. Under the last continuing resolution, the agency can pay out February SNAP benefits until Jan. 20. USDA spends $4.8 billion on SNAP each month. USDA has made early SNAP payments before natural disasters, but an acting USDA executive said he’s “not aware” early payment has been done under a shutdown. (Federal News Network)
Organizers of conferences and events aimed at federal employees and contractors are being forced to postpone the gatherings. The Association of Government Accountants, AFFIRM and AFCEA’s Washington D.C. chapter all had to find new dates and in some cases new venues. The Science and Technology Directorate at DHS also had to push back its cyber innovation event until later this year. (Federal News Network)
Another possible consequence of a long term shutdown is being brought to light by a member of Congress. Rep. Robin Kelly (D- Ill.) highlighted how the shutdown will also make it more difficult for the government to attract and maintain the high-quality IT workforce needed to provide 21st century government services. Kelly said its already hard enough to attract IT talent to government work since it can’t really compete on the salary front and the shutdown withholding paychecks is not going to improve that. (Rep. Robin Kelly)
Could the federal partial shutdown hinder companies from hiring people? Employers are by law supposed to run their hires through the E-verify to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. Trouble is, the E-verify system is operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Homeland Security Department. The system is suspended now, thanks to the ongoing lapse in funding. Information pages are still up, but employers can’t log on and the system won’t process. (E-Verify)
The Coast Guard suspended its tuition assistance program due to the partial government shutdown. The program will continue to accept applications, but will not process them until the Coast Guard gets funding for 2019. It’s encouraging students to seek alternative funding like scholarships and loans. Those who already have tuition assistance will still receive funding. (U.S. Coast Guard)
The Air Force will begin its Maintainer Training Next program this summer. Maintainers repair and take care of aircraft and other weapons. The program is based off the Pilot Training Next program, which uses biometrics and artificial intelligence to better prepare pilots. The service hopes the new program will get maintainers in the field faster. Many of these airmen are inexperienced and need more training. (Federal News Network)
The General Services Administration will continue to evolve the $5.5 billion follow on contract to the Air Force’s Net-Cents vehicle. GSA released version 2 of the draft solicitation to buy commodity IT hardware like laptops, routers and associated services. The Second Generation IT, or 2GIT, will replace the Air Force’s Net-Cents 2-products vehicle. GSA said it expects to award between seven and ten blanket purchase agreements. The agency estimated that customers will spend as much as $1.1 billion a year on this five-year BPA. Comments on the draft RFP are due Jan. 11 and GSA will hold a second industry day in March. (FedBizOpps)
The Pentagon kicked off a new talent exchange with private industry, aiming to boost the experience of its acquisition workforce. Congress gave DoD new authorities to send its civilian personnel on temporary tours of duty to work inside private companies two years ago; the Pentagon launched a pilot program implementing the law this week. In the trial run, 13 workers from DoD and the private sector are making temporary moves into industry or government with the goal of widening their professional development. The program will allow exchanges between three months and two years long. (Department of Defense)