The Senate has a plan to keep the government open for another 45 days. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have agreed to a continuing resolution that would last until November 17. The funding bill also includes money for Ukraine, funding for natural disasters and it will extend expiring programs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The CR would also keep federal wildland firefighters pay at current levels and continue to fund the Agriculture Department's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants and children. The bill would have to still pass the House before Saturday at midnight.
If a government shutdown happens at the end of this week, hundreds of thousands of feds will be sent home without pay. But even more will keep working. A Federal News Network analysis of federal agencies’ shutdown plans shows 65% of feds would stay on the job if a shutdown happens. About 860,000 employees would be completely unaffected by the shutdown. That is because their agencies’ missions are funded in ways that are not affected by the failure of Congress to approve annual spending plans. Another 659,000 employees would have to work without pay until the shutdown is over.
The lead U.S. cyber agency is preparing to furlough most employees if a government shutdown happens. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency would keep only about 570 out of its 3,100 employees working through a government shutdown. CISA helps respond to cyber incidents on federal government and critical infrastructure networks. Most other Department of Homeland Security employees, including airport screeners, FEMA staff and border patrol agents, will continue to work during a shutdown under DHS’ latest contingency plan.
School may have just started, but agencies already are receiving their first set of IT modernization progress report cards. The departments of Labor and Education and the U.S. Agency for International Development are at the top of the 16th iteration of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) scorecard. The first of Congressman Gerry Connolly's (D-Va.) bi-annual IT modernization progress reports is out with agencies earning 3 "As", 16 "Bs" and 5 "Cs." This is the first FITARA scorecard since December and agencies showed progress across all categories. The biggest improvements came in the transition to the EIS telecommunications contract with the number of agencies receiving passing grades doubling over the last nine months.
The Defense Department’s inspector general is launching a review into a high-profile contractor cybersecurity program. The DoD IG announced it will audit the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification(CMMC) program. The IG is specifically looking into whether DoD’s process for accrediting third-party assessors is adequate and meets the department’s cybersecurity needs. The CMMC requirements are still in the rulemaking phase. The Pentagon plans to begin including CMMC in contracts late next year.
The Department of Veterans Affairs gave an update on website problems that are keeping veterans waiting. VA’s top IT officials said warning bells didn’t sound earlier this year when the website, VA.gov, experienced problems. That made it much harder for the team to detect and correct the issue. VA said the problem delayed disability claims for tens of thousands of veterans. Kurt DelBene is VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology and its chief information officer. He told lawmakers the VA is adding more monitoring tools to the site. “In these particular cases, it was a missed error check, we just have to admit that,” DelBene said.
( - Federal News Network)
For the next five months, federal employees can donate to thousands of charities around the world. It's all part of the 2023 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The Office of Personnel Management and the Environmental Protection Agency are teaming up to ask feds to donate to the annual program between now and Jan. 15. The CFC is the largest workplace charity campaign in the world. Since its creation in 1961, the program has raised more than $8.7 billion in charitable donations.
The IRS is letting chatbots answer more questions from taxpayers. Rather than pick up the phone, taxpayers have the option of asking a chatbot for help when they get certain notices from the IRS in the mail. That includes notices that taxpayer-provided information doesn’t match records the IRS is getting from banks and other financial institutions. Since 2020, the IRS has used these bots to help more than 13 million taxpayers resolve their issues more quickly. They have also helped the IRS collect more than $150 million in payment agreements. The IRS said taxpayers can opt into the chatbots, but still can call and reach an IRS employee if they would prefer.
Federal unions and agencies may see more streamlined processes within the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The FLRA, which oversees labor-management relations, has finalized a rule to let agencies and unions request email versions of decisions, notices and orders. The three-member FLRA board now officially recognizes email transmissions as formal versions of case documents. The FLRA adopted the new final rule without any changes to its initial proposal. The authority said the new digital options should help speed up the case filing process by cutting costs and reducing staff members' time spent on the work.