Is Sequestration Back? Plus the DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • When the President was Inaugurated on Monday, he unveiled a broad agenda for the next four years. But one thing was missing from his inaugural address – civil service reform and management. Tom Fox tells us why management matters.Click here for the full recap.
  • Next year, millennials will make up more than 35% of the federal workforce. That’s a staggering number of feds who will all have been born after 1976. So how can leaders really connect, train, manage and capitalize on their talents? Click here for the full recap.

But First – Sequestration

And it is looking increasingly likely that sequestration, which was meant to be the stick that would encourage the carrot that was a budget deal, could come to fruition.

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate appear to be coming to the same conclusion on spending, namely that once unthinkable, draconian cuts designed to force a more reasonable compromise may be much harder to undo than anyone ever imagined. For Republicans, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are an increasingly palatable option among deficit hounds, even if it means opposing their party’s defense hawks, who staunchly oppose the deep cuts to military spending.Democrats, on the other hand, would prefer to replace some of the spending cuts with new revenues — an approach that is a nonstarter with Republicans. And Democrats refuse to entertain the Republican preference of replacing the military decreases with cuts to other programs.In just another sign of how deeply divided Washington is, the so-called sequester, which was designed to be so bad that neither side would let it take effect, could very well end up becoming the law of the land. – National Journal

The lack of a resolution hasn’t stopped agencies from making plans for what could happen in the event of sequestration. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is preparing for sequestration in a fairly dramatic way.

Federal Times reports, on Jan. 27 the agency will freeze hiring, stop nominating employees for performance awards and slash travel, training and overtime. Those steps were outlined in an e-mail from DFAS Director Terri McKay. She says furloughs could come next. DFAS managers discussed the plans earlier this month with the American Federation of Government Employees.

Meanwhile, Politico reports Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, launched his first hearing this session with a vow to overhaul the government’s purchasing of information technology — an area he estimates sucks $20 billion in taxpayer money each year.

Federal CIO Stephen VanRoekel said that the current laws are not the problem with government IT.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Women are headed into combat. The New York Times says the Pentagon will lift the combat ban for women. The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles.
  2. Federal News Radio reports, Tom Sharpe, the senior procurement executive of the Treasury Department and long-time federal acquisition expert, has been named the new commissioner of the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service. Sharpe replaces Steve Kempf, who left in July to take long-term medical leave, as the head of GSA’s acquisition department.
  3. The Associated Press says the State Department is moving quickly to beef up security at missions worldwide. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repeated that refrain in back-to-back congressional hearings yesterday. She called the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, highly personal for both the families of the four victims and herself.
  4. Gay rights groups have revived their campaign for an executive order banning discrimination among federal contractors. Federal News Radio says they unsuccessfully lobbied President Barack Obama last year for a directive to protect employees at those companies from bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Obama declared his support of gay rights in his inaugural speech Monday.
  5. New York Times reports, a weak command structure and a climate of fear among female personnel created the conditions that led to widespread instances of sexual assault of Air Force recruits by their instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, senior Air Force commanders said. The Lackland case, allegedly involving 32 instructors who took advantage of their power over as many as 59 recruits, is one of the largest sex scandals in the military since the Tailhook episode of the early 1990s.
  6. Federal News Radio reports, defense contracting giant General Dynamics reported a loss of more than $2 billion in the latest quarter. Revenue fell 12 percent in the same period, to $8 billion. GD says the loss wasn’t the result of operations. It’s because the company recorded a $2 billion goodwill impairment against the value of its Information Systems and Technology Group. It cited reduced defense spending.
  7. And on GovLoop, are you looking for a government job? Struggling to move up the ladder? Come to our Virtual Career Fair on February 28th. Listen to agency leaders who’ve successfully risen through the ranks. And browse our jobs room. Sign up here.

The DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • The New York Times’Nate Silver: What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending? Entitlement programs
  • GOVERNING: Virtual Interns Help Solve an Agency’s Workforce Needs

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