We hear at the DorobekINSIDER hope you had a great holiday vacation. And if you are anything like us, you probably powered down over the holidays. So we have compiled the most important stories over the break, so you don't miss anything.
Stories You Might Have Missed
- Sequestration gets delayed until March. Federal News Radio reports, sequestration would have cut $109 billion in fiscal 2013 starting today. Instead, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 orders $12 billion in cuts. But lawmakers will have to come back in 60 days to deal with sequestration again. The weekend bill raises the tax rates on individuals earning more than $400,000 and $450,000 for couples.
- Feds get more money for travel to and from work. The Fiscal Cliff bill increased the mass transit subsidy to $240 per month, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012. Federal News Radio reports Congress reduced the subsidy in 2011 to $125 per month, although at the time it raised the parking allowance to $240. Under the new law, employees can receive up to $240 pre-tax a month if they use subways, buses or commuter trains to get to work.
- Federal managers stung by last year's travel and conference revelations might be wondering whether to stay in Motel 6 or the Hyatt the next time they hit the road. Federal News Radio reports the General Services Administration is setting up a panel to help with that decision. It has opened nominations for members of the new Government-wide Travel Advisory Committee. GSA said the panel is needed to oversee existing government travel policies and procedures to make sure they're transparent and accountable. GTAC will study travel industry trends and get advice from travel experts. Then it will make recommendations on how agencies can make travel more efficient.
- EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says she's stepping down after nearly four years on the job. Jackson battled Congressional Republicans and industry over the Obama administration's environmental policies. Jackson pushed for new controls on coal fired electrical plants, and for preventing construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
- The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration is also stepping down next month. Thomas D'Agostino says it's a difficult decision to make after more than five years in the role — and 36 years in the government. But he says organizations are healthier when leadership changes periodically, and the time is right for a change. D'Agostino will leave on Jan. 18, when President Barack Obama's first term officially ends. CNN in 2010 called D'Agostino "undersecretary for saving the world," citing his leadership of top-secret missions to help former Soviet countries secure loose nuclear materials.
- The Senate plans to vote on a controversial law that makes it easier for federal agents to spy on Americans. Lawmakers have waited until the last minute. The FISA-Amendments Act is set to expire at the end of this year. The White House says the law, which enables agents to eavesdrop on phone calls and read emails without a warrant, is its top national-security priority.The House already has voted to reauthorize the law.
- New rules could force accountants at government contractors to pick up the pace. Federal News Radio says the Federal Acquisition Regulations council wants to extend a White House memo governing how quickly prime contractors have to pay their small-business subcontractors. The proposal would require a prompt-payment clause in every new solicitation. It's vague on the specifics, however, it does not say how soon prime contractors should pay up, causing some small businesses to fear a large contractor could pay them in 59 days rather than 60. (Federal News Radio)