House Majority Leader prepares lawmakers for continuing resolution

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  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told his colleagues what may seem inevitable: a continuing resolution is the likely outcome ahead of the upcoming government funding deadline. Hoyer says a CR isn’t ideal. But the House will work on a temporary funding deal to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month. The House returns from its August recess a week from today. Current government funding expires September 30.
  • All federal payroll providers are preparing to implement the president’s payroll tax deferral for employees. The upcoming payroll tax deferral stems from an executive order President Trump signed back in early August. The Trump administration says federal employees should see temporary savings by the second paycheck this month. The payroll tax deferral is temporary. So employees will have to pay deferred taxes back by next spring, before interest or penalties start to accrue next May. It’s unclear whether federal employees will have the opportunity to opt out of the payroll tax deferral. (Federal News Network)
  • A new inspector general report finds oversight gaps in how the Department of Homeland Security uses civil forfeiture laws to seize property. The DHS IG found significant differences in how the department’s components handle forfeiture – in some cases violating the law. The report found that’s partly because DHS lets agencies like CBP and the Secret Service run their own civil forfeiture programs without meaningful policy oversight from DHS headquarters. Among other problems, the IG says the lack of oversight could lead to more lawsuits over property or cash authorities wrongly seize and don’t return.
  • The Government Accountability Office will review the Army’s sexual harassment response program after the disappearance and death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood in Texas. The report was requested by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and three other lawmakers. GAO will look into the effectiveness of the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention. The lawmakers asked GAO to complete the review by the end of next year.
  • The Army isn’t only seeing green anymore when it comes to race. The Army is telling its leaders to take a more nuanced approach to addressing racial issues in its ranks. The service for years told soldiers to only see green at work. However, the Army’s top enlisted soldier says that mindset ignores the whole experience of a soldier. The Army is encouraging leaders to talk to soldiers about their backgrounds, their experience with racism, their home lives and other non-work related topics. The military as a whole has been changing its approach to racial issues after the recent protests across the nation. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army has joined the fight against those expansive wildfires in California. Some 200 soldiers have joined in, following a request from the Agriculture Department’s National Interagency Fire Center. They operate under command of U.S. Army North, or the fifth Army, a unit of the Northern Command’s Joint Force Land Component Command. Fully outfitted for firefighting and COVID-19 protection. The soldiers come from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion. They’ll help the Forest Service respond to fires in the Mendocino National Forest.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services named Perryn Ashmore as its acting chief information officer. Ashmore takes over for Jose Arietta, who resigned unexpectedly in August after 16 months on the job. Ashmore has been principal deputy CIO at HHS since 2012. He’s also worked at the FCC, the General Services Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In total, Perryn has served in the federal government over 30 years and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
  • Victoria Coleman is the new director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Coleman will oversee the military’s most forward thinking technologies and experiments. She spent 30 years in academia, the private sector and government. She’s the founding chair of DARPA’s Microsystems Exploratory Council and is a member of the Defense Science Board. Coleman previously served as the CEO of Atlas AI and was a senior vice president at Technicolor.
  • The long-awaited interim rule from the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Council is out. A new interim rule lays out 10 reasons why a technology product or service could be banned from use by agencies and contractors. These include everything from ownership and control of a company to security, authenticity and integrity of the product to the ability of the government to mitigate the risks posed by the technology. The Federal Acquisition Security Council detailed these reasons as well as the process by which agencies will share supply chain threats in the new interim rule. The FASC is accepting comments on the interim rule through the end of October.
  • There’s a new virtual assistant from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The artificial intelligence platform is called e-VA. It allows veterans to receive fast responses to certain questions, automated alerts and appointment reminders, and the ability to schedule and reschedule appointments. The Veterans Benefits Administration released e-VA in phases throughout the summer. Veterans can correspond with the tool and have the responses saved to their electronic records.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration has launched a new search tool, aimed at helping researchers navigate millions of digitized records across its 14 presidential libraries. The Presidential Library Explorer allows users to navigate through links that separate text records from photographs, as well as video and audio clips. NARA rolled out the search tool as part of its strategic goal to improve online search capabilities for nearly all its digital holdings by 2025.
  • The Postal Service shed more light on on-time mail delivery. The Postal Service will give House and Senate oversight committees a weekly update on delivery and performance metrics through the end of the year. Agency officials pledged provide these metrics the same day the House Oversight and Reform Committee warned it would file a subpoena for some of the documents the agency has yet to produce. On-time delivery of first-class mail remains 4-5% below the baseline for this year. (Federal News Network)