Doubling Down on the Fiscal Cliff — Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Right now 1/3 of the federal acquisition workforce has under 5 years of experience on the job. But the University of Maryland is trying to ease the knowledge gap by launching a new program to train acquisition experts. We got the inside track from Jacques Gansler. Click here for the full recap.

Fiscal cliff update:

  • Prospects for a deal to avoid going over the fiscal cliff are looking pretty iffy after both sides hardened their positions over the weekend. “There’s not going to be an agreement without rates going up,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday. “Right now, I would say we’re nowhere, period. We’re nowhere,” House Speaker John Boehner said on “Fox News Sunday.
  • Fiscal cliff looms, no solution in sight—Jake Sherman—Here’s why you should be concerned about the state of play in the fiscal cliff negotiations: Things are getting worse. Not only is the proverbial precipice approaching, there’s a solid logjam and no momentum toward breaking it.
  • The Washington Post says talks are now at a stalemate over tax hikes. As the White House and Republican leaders enter the final month of negotiations to avoid a year-end “fiscal cliff,” both sides struck an uncompromising tone Sunday, as warnings mounted that they will be unable to forge an agreement to stop an automatic series of deep spending cuts and large tax hikes that could push the economy into recession.

Dirt on the Mars Rover

Here’s what @MarsCuriosity found in that first scoop of Martian soil and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity’s arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.

End of the Internet?
Politico reports, bureaucrats from around the world will gather behind closed doors in Dubai next week to plot an end to the Internet as we know it—or so Washington would have you believe. Hill lawmakers warn that the 120-plus U.S. delegation needs to fend off efforts by China, Russia and developing nations to use a United Nations branch organization to censor or tax the Net. Google is orchestrating an online petition drive, even Grover Norquist is involved.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. The FBI might be on the move. The Washington Post reports the General Services Administration has outlined a plan for the FBI to move out of the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue and relocate to a new Washington-area campus facility. The GSA, under a directive from President Obama to reduce the footprint and costs of its real estate. GSA says the Hoover building is nearly 40 years old, is deteriorating, inefficient and lacks proper security for the FBI.
  2. The General Services Administration also plans to decommission Uncle Sam’s site, which was supposed to make it easy for agencies to acquire software as a service. Information Week reports launched three years ago by former federal CIO Vivek Kundra. The General Services Administration, which manages, notified cloud service providers of the pending shut down by email on Nov. 29. GSA didn’t give a reason for the decision in its email notice.
  3. Presidential management fellows go through an arduous application process. But does that hard work pay off in terms of on the job satisfaction? The Partnership for Public Service found Presidential Management Fellows are happy with their first days on the job but believe agency supervisors and program coordinators could provide better guidance and mentoring. We will be talking to Tom Fox about the results on Wednesday. Send us any questions you have!
  4. Lawmakers want official times report. Federal Times reports two House Republicans are calling on the Office of Personnel Management to release a report on the costs of federal employees conducting union business while on the job. So-called “official time” grew by nearly 11 percent and its costs by roughly 13 percent from 2010 to 2011, Angela Bailey, OPM associate director of employee services, said at a meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council this month. That would mean federal employees spent roughly 3.4 million hours — at a cost of $155 million — conducting union business while on duty in 2011.
  5. The Obama administration is threatening to veto the Senate version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, in part because of a provision that would require funding cuts for the Defense Department’s civilian and contractor workforce on par with reductions for military personnel. Federal Times says the provision would entail more than $5 billion in cuts through 2017, the White House said in a statement Thursday, adding that the civilian work force’s size should be based “on workload and funding, not on arbitrary comparisons to the military.”
  6. The Homeland Security Department has created a new watch list. NextGov reports, the new list comprises people disqualified from the TSA PreCheck program. PreCheck is designed to let people go through airport lines quickly, with their shoes on. But people who fail the PreCheck one-time screening because of certain violations end up on the new watch list. TSA put the change into effect just before Thanksgiving, with only a quiet notice but no public input. An agency spokeswoman said that under the Privacy Act, it didn’t have to collect comments. She said passengers denied PreCheck simply go through regular screening along with everyone else.
  7. And on GovLoop – you still have time to attend our half day in-person training event going on next Thursday here in the District. NextGen plus will feature:
    1. Insights to become a brilliant communicator
    2. Launch your gov career with savviness
    3. Learn to network within and outside of your organization
    4. Training takes place next Thursday
    5. Register with Promo Code DOROBEKINSIDER and get $20’s off

The DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • The end of TechStat – FierceGovernmentIT
    • Editor David Perera says: “The diminished frequency of Office of Management and Budget TechStat meetings is a likely indicator of an OMB oversight effort plodding toward an end. OMB itself has already publicly acknowledged that it has held fewer TechStat meetings–but in a note included with its response to FierceGovernmentIT’s latest round of FOIAing TechStat meeting information, OMB attempts to portray the state of affairs as a success. The problem with accepting that is that inherent in OMB’s rollout of TechStat was a belief that agencies weren’t doing a good job overseeing their systems. Is OMB really saying that it turned around that lack of institutional oversight in less than 2 years? (How, exactly? By providing them a seating chart template for use in homegrown TechStat meetings?”
  • All Things D author Mike Isaac finds – Among U.S. Social Networks, Smartphone Apps Trump The Mobile Web
    • Isaac writes, “It’s a good thing that Facebook is doubling down on its native smartphone apps. Because it is, as they say, giving the people what they want. That’s according to Nielsen’s latest numbers, at least. For U.S. users, more than a third of the time spent using social networking sites on PCs and mobile devices comes from app activity, the company said in a report published on Monday, besting by far the amount of user activity seen on mobile Web sites.”

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