To listen to the Federal Newscast on your phone or mobile device, subscribe on PodcastOne or Apple Podcasts. The best listening experience on desktop can be found using Chrome, Firefox or Safari.
Agency leaders were asked to provide a list of the highest-impact programs jeopardized if the shutdown continues into the spring. The Washington Post reported that White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wants the list no later than Friday. Its the first sign of the administration preparing for a long term shutdown. (The Washington Post)
The Office of Personnel Management offered up long-awaited new guidance on how excepted employees can take leave during the government shutdown. It said employees can take approved leave using normal procedures, and get paid and charged for it after the fact. Or, excepted employees can choose to enter furlough status to take time off and not be charged. (Federal News Network)
OPM also urged agencies to be as “accommodating as possible” to federal employees working without pay during the government shutdown, reminding agencies of workplace flexibility like telework and flexible start-and-end times, which might help ease some of the burdens excepted employees are feeling now. Margaret Weichert, OPM acting director, said some excepted employees are paying for transit out of pocket. Others have lost child care subsidies. (Federal News Network)
Settlement of damages from the 2013 shutdown is held up by the current shutdown. After the 2013 shutdown, a judge awarded 25,000 plaintiffs liquidated damages equal to their back pay. Bean-counters have been calculating each plaintiff’s damages ever since. But Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt told the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and plaintiff’s attorneys, that process stopped in December, the onset of this season’s partial shutdown. Hunt promised the next progress update by Feb. 21. (U.S. Court of Federal Claims)
Federal employees will have more time to donate to the Combined Federal Campaign. The Office of Personnel Management said feds can donate to any of the CFC’s 8000 charities up to one month after the shutdown ends. Jan. 11 marked the original deadline. Donations through payroll deductions won’t go into effect until employees are paid again. They can still make an online donation through their credit card, or bank account. (Federal News Network)
Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) asked Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry to address reports of cancelled agency travel due to the shutdown. She said committee staff members have learned of canceled travel plans at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, despite the agency being funded. The Energy Department has funding, and is not directly impacted by the shutdown. (House Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
As small businesses continue to feel the brunt of the partial government shutdown, they may now also face a growing backlog of loan applications at the Small Business Administration. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon asking about the status of loan processing at two centers. Cardin said application reviews for the 7(a) and 504 programs are shutdown, costing small firms access to about $117 million a day in capital. (Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee)
Young Americans said they’re interested in public service, but don’t know about all the opportunities there are. The congressionally-chartered Commission on Military, National and Public Service’s interim report said the public is frustrated by the time and complexity of the federal hiring process. The commission will submit its final report to the President and Congress by March 2020. (Commission on Military, National, and Public Service)
The Navy will have a difficult time prosecuting the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Fitzgerald for his role in one of two deadly collisions in 2017. A military judge has disqualified the Navy admiral who initially convened the court martial against Commander Bryce Benson. According to Stars and Stripes, Adm. Frank Caldwell made comments outside the case that abdicated his role as a neutral arbiter, and made him appear more like a prosecutor. With Caldwell disqualified, the Navy would need to find another flag officer who could act as a neutral convening authority, a step that some legal experts say is unlikely. (Stripes)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee sets its sights on security clearances at the White House. In a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) asked for a slew of documents, as well as transcribed interviews with all employees of the White House Personnel Security Office. (House Oversight and Reform Committee)
The House gave the State Department a cost effective way to deal with cybersecurity problems. The State Department may be the next one of a growing number of agencies authorized to hunt for cyber bugs. The House passed the Hack Your State Department Act on Jan. 22. The bill authorizes both a pilot bug bounty program and a way for the agency to give researchers more information about real and potential cyber threats. State would join the Air Force, the Marines and DHS as those agencies using bug bounty programs to find and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities. Currently, there is no Senate companion for Congressman Ted Lieu’s (D-Calif.) bill. (Congress.gov)
Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.) was selected as the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Brown is the committee’s first vice chairman since 2014, when Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) held the position under then-chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). Brown will serve under Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.). When Brown was Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, he lead the Base Realignment and Closure Subcabinet and the implementation of Maryland’s BRAC Plan, which ensured the State of Maryland would be ready for the 28,000 households that came to the state as a result of the BRAC process.
Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), co-chair of the House Transparency Caucus, brings back a bill to make thousands of agency reports to Congress public. The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act would require the Government Accountability Office to manage a central, searchable website for those reports. Quigley first introduced the bill in 2011, and has brought it back over the past five Congresses. (Rep. Mike Quigley)