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Everything you need to know about the budget deal – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

You can find all of our programs online: DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

But up front:

  • GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER budget reader: Everything you need to know about the budget deal

    • The Washington Post: Lawmakers unveil massive $1.1 trillion spending bill in bipartisan compromise that ends the threat of another shutdown : “The spending bill puts flesh on the bones of a bipartisan budget deal struck in December, when Republicans and Democrats agreed to partially repeal sharp spending cuts known as the sequester. As a result, the Pentagon will avoid a roughly $20 billion cut set to hit on Wednesday and domestic agencies — which have already absorbed sequester reductions — will receive a bump up in funding of similar size.”

    • Politico: House expected to vote Tuesday on 3-day CR: “To avert any threat of a shutdown, the House first will take up Tuesday a three-day extension of the current stopgap continuing resolution due to expire Wednesday. The leadership expects to move quickly next to the larger omnibus bill, and the hope is to send it on to President Barack Obama before the new deadline of Saturday, Jan. 18…Any such large omnibus — really 12 bills in one — is risky. But there appears to be a genuine hunger now to build on the December budget deal and not risk another government shutdown akin to last October’s.”

    • Federal Times: Spending bill extends 1% pay raise to blue-collar feds: “The $1.1 trillion package, which includes more than $90 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations, fleshes out the budget agreement reached last month. That deal partially rolled back sequester-related budget cuts for the Defense Department and other agencies. The new bill would tweak one controversial aspect of that deal, which pared cost-of-living adjustments for working-age military retirees. Under the new measure, medically retired individuals and survivors would be exempted from the reduced adjustments, according to a summary by the House Appropriations Committee.”

    • The Washington Post: The winners and losers of the new spending bill: Among some of the items:

      • Government contractors: “The legislation prohibits any funding to require that contractors bidding for federal contracts disclose campaign contributions. The Obama administration has openly flirted with issuing executive orders that would require contractors to provide campaign disclosures.”

      • IRS: “The scandal-ridden tax-collecting agency comes in for special scrutiny this year. There’s no funding ‘to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs or to target citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.’ And the agreement requires the agency to provide reports on its spending on training and bonuses. And, in response to those ‘Star Trek’ parody videos, there’s no funding “for inappropriate videos.’”

      • Federal worker pay: “The measure authorizes a 1 percent pay increase for civilian federal workers and U.S. military personnel. But in response to several embarrassing examples of excess spending by federal agencies (IRS! GSA!), the bill also puts in place new bans and limitation on certain conferences, official travel and employee awards.”

      • Official portraits: “In a blow to one of the coolest perks of serving in the Cabinet, the legislation bars the use of federal money ‘for painting portraits.’”

    • Slate: How the Omnibus Spending Bill Cripples the Post Office: “The omnibus spending agreement reached by congressional appropriators last night includes specific language requiring the USPS to continue delivering the mail on Saturdays and prohibiting it from closing rural post offices.”

    • Defense News: Budget deal trims Defense by $8B: “The 2014 defense appropriations bill would give the Pentagon $92.9 billion in total procurement funds, down nearly $8 billion from the 2013 amount. The Defense Department would get more than $7 billion for research and development projects, an area senior officials have been warning gets too few monies”

    • Read the full text of the legislation (NOTE: Large PDF)

    • Congressional Quarterly’s catch-all on the omnibus legislation

Let’s catch up on what you need to know

  1. Federal Times: Spending bill extends 1% pay raise to blue-collar feds. “Congressional negotiators have agreed on a $1.1 trillion spending package that would avert a new government shutdown, set federal agency funding levels for fiscal 2014 and give a 1 percent pay raise to more than 200,000 blue-collar federal workers at military depots and other facilities.”

  2. Government Executive: Federal Government Sheds Almost 80,000 Jobs in 2013. “The federal government shed 2,000 jobs in December, ending 2013 with a net loss of 79,000 positions, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

  3. The Wall Street Journal: Criminal charges not expected in IRS probe over conservative groups. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the Internal Revenue Service’s heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, law-enforcement officials said, a move that likely will only intensify debate over the politically charged scandal.”

  4. GovExec: Senior Execs Press Obama on Alternative to Presidential Rank Awards. “When the Obama administration canceled the annual Presidential Rank Awards last June, it assured the press and an unhappy Senior Executive Association that it would come up with a cheaper way to honor high-achieving federal employees.”

  5. Emergency Management: Collaboration Moves Utah Toward Next-Gen 911. “When the technology in several of Utah’s 911 centers was nearing obsolescence simultaneously, three of the state’s public safety directors decided to get creative.”

  6. NextGov: DC METRO BUYS $184 MILLION SMART PAYMENT SYSTEM; SIMILAR SYSTEM DRAWS FIRE IN CANADA. “The Washington Metro transit system has awarded a $184 million contract for a new electronic payment system to a company that built Toronto a similar system, which Canadian officials have bashed for outdated technology and cost overruns.”

  7. Federal News Radio: Business group names 10 gov’t activities that should be outsourced. “The government buys and contractors sell. It’s a simple model, except when it isn’t. Sometimes the government competes with industry.”

A few items from the DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too.

  • National Journal: Congress Cut Its Own Budget. What Happened Next Will Not Restore Your Faith in Government: Cuts to office budgets, changes to employee health care, and near-constant threats of furloughs and shutdowns have eroded morale on Capitol Hill, according to a new survey released today by the Congressional Management Foundation. Yet what efficacy Congress does have today will be eroded if it can no longer attract top talent: “Congressional aides have always been underpaid and overworked, but they keep coming back because of a commitment to public service or a desire to have an impact. But there may be a point when salary and budget cuts go too far, even for the most service-oriented…’When you look at the landscape of changes, these are the most significant changes to congressional offices in a generation,’ Brad Fitch, the president and CEO of the foundation told National Journal. ‘It’s a folly to think that those changes are not going to have an impact on staff retention or recruitment.'”

  • The New Yorker: Is technology making us smarter?: Are we getting smarter or stupider? In “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” from 2010, Nicholas Carr blames the Web for growing cognitive problems, while Clive Thompson, in his recent book, “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better,” argues that our technologies are boosting our abilities. To settle the matter, consider the following hypothetical experiment — Imagine if a time traveller saw a smartphone.

  • Can’t make it up – Reuters: Penis pumps cost U.S. government millions, watchdog cries waste

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David B. Grinberg

Chris, just a note to thank you for putting together such an informative, educational and objective show/blog about key issues of interest to gov employees.

Good luck with everything in the year ahead!