Government lost thousands of years’ worth of production during shutdown

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  • Agencies spent nearly $3.7 billion on furloughed federal employees to stay home during the most recent 35-day government shutdown. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee says the government lost nearly 57,000 years of productivity from furloughed federal workers. The Office of Personnel Management described how its employees diverted their regular daily tasks to answer hundreds of questions and requests from agencies about the government shutdown. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • Senate appropriators have so far been silent on a federal pay raise next year as the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government passed its 2020 spending bill. The subcommittee’s silence on federal pay means House and Senate leadership will need to conference whether employees get a 2.6% or a 3.1% raise next year. The House already cleared a 3.1% raise for civilian employees in 2020. The president is pursuing a 2.6% across the board raise. (Federal News Network)
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government is also rejecting the Trump administration’s proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management with the General Services Administration. Members are instead recommending a $43 million budget boost for OPM in its 2020 spending bill. The proposal matches the one the House passed back in June. The Senate draft bill also includes a $200 million budget boost for the IRS and a $546 million increase for the General Services Administration’s Federal Buildings Fund. (Federal News Network)
  • The Technology Modernization Fund is once again fighting for its survival. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee zeroed out the fund to give agencies seed money to address IT modernization challenges. The Financial Services and General Government subcommittee approved its fiscal 2020 spending bill without adding any money for the Technology Modernization Fund. Congress established the TMF as part of the Modernizing Government Technology or MGT Act in 2017. There are still at least two more opportunities to add funding back to the TMF — when the bill goes to the full committee for a vote and when it goes to the full Senate. The House version of the spending bill includes $35 million for TMF. (Senate Appropriations Committee)
  • Almost a year after Hurricane Michael devastated Air Force Base Tyndall, the installation is still rebuilding. The facility held its third industry day to make the new Tyndall Air Force base a digitally integrated post. Planners want to build what they call a 21st century base, which includes smart buildings with new layouts. More than 400 people attended the industry day held in Panama City, Florida. (Air Force)
  • The Air Force’s experimental Pilot Training Next program is ready for primetime. Air Education and Training Command leader Lieutenant General Brad Webb says the service will start integrating some technologies and data analysis from Pilot Training Next into regular undergraduate pilot training in mid-2020. The Pilot Training Next program uses biometrics and artificial intelligence to help pilots learn better and faster. (Federal News Network
  • A new report says foreign online groups are systematically targeting military members and veterans. The findings, by Vietnam Veterans of America, are based on two years of research. In one example, the group says it’s found numerous Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of followers that impersonate veterans’ organizations, but whose real purpose is to spread divisive political propaganda — usually originating from Russia. In other cases, the groups appear to be selling counterfeit veterans merchandise to fund their activities. VVA says fake accounts are being used by hostile intelligence services to recruit spies. (Vietnam Veterans of America)
  • There may be a new annuity provider for the Thrift Savings Plan next year. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board issued a request for proposal for the program. The contract will cover three years with two one-year option periods. Met Life Insurance Company currently holds the contract and has for the past six years. The TSP’s annuity program is relatively small and includes 910 annuities. (Federal News Network)
  • Bureau of Land Management employees who agree to relocate during the agency’s planned exodus from D.C. will get cash bonuses. E&E News reports, William Perry Pendley, BLM’s acting chief, has told employees Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has approved “a one-time lump sum payment” equal to 25% of their annual base pay. (E&E News)
  • The Treasury Department has begun to implement a 2018 law updating oversight of risky foreign investment in the United States. Proposed regulations would give the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. greater authority by expanding its jurisdiction. The interagency group reviews stock and real estate transactions that potentially affect national security. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act gives the committee jurisdiction over non-controlling positions in U.S. companies doing critical technology, infrastructure or sensitive data work. Under the new law, the rules must take effect by February 13 of next year. (Department of the Treasury)
  • The Small Business Administration fell short in implementing the 2013 law establishing a mentor-protégé program for all small businesses. The SBA inspector general say SBA didn’t have effective oversight to make sure mentors met the program’s qualifications and evaluated only some proteges on an annual basis. SBA’s technology systems also didn’t have the functionalities to capture, track and manage the program and experienced files randomly disappearing or being deleted. The IG made four recommendations and SBA is taking action on three of them. (Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General)
  • In an effort to strike a balance between open collaboration on research, while also preventing the theft of breakthrough ideas, The National Science and Technology Council has launched a research security probe. The project will look into cases of intellectual property theft that stem from international talent recruitment programs. The White House Office of Science and Technology will hold regular meetings with academic groups over the next few months to discuss the topic. (White House)

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