Sequestration Headlines – Plus the DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On the DorobekINSIDER:

  • Sequestration goes into effect on Friday and the quickly approaching deadline has feds asking a lot of questions. Like when will furloughs happen and for how long? We answer your questions with employment attorney John Mahoney. Click here for the full recap.
  • For the 12th year in a row human resources issues have topped the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List. Find out what progress is being made. Click here for the full recap.

The DorobekINSIDER sequestration reader

  • NYTimes: the federal government, the nation’s largest consumer and investor, is cutting back at a pace exceeded in the last half-century only by the military demobilizations after the Vietnam War and the cold war. And the turn toward austerity is set to accelerate on Friday if the mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration start to take effect as scheduled. Those cuts would join an earlier round of deficit reduction measures passed in 2011 and the wind-down of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that already have reduced the federal government’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product by almost 7 percent in the last two years. The cuts may be felt more deeply because state and local governments — which expanded rapidly during earlier rounds of federal reductions in the 1970s and the 1990s, offsetting much of the impact — have also been cutting back.
  • National Journal:Is Anything Safe From the Automatic Budget Cuts? Yes, the across-the-board cuts in federal spending that will begin this week are blunt. And it’s true they will affect many corners of the government. But big swaths of the government are safe.
  • The Hill: Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) is calling for new restrictions on congressional visits overseas that would ban House members from taking federally funded trips outside the United States unless members are visiting U.S. forces stationed in an active war zone.
  • The Hill: Senate GOP divided on own sequester plan. Two days before $85 billion in automatic spending cuts hit the government, Senate Republicans are divided over a bill backed by their leadership that would replace the sequester.
  • Federal News Radio: Before furloughs, agencies must negotiate terms with unions. Customs and Border Protection became one of the first civilian agencies to notify the union that represents their employees that they want to begin discussing the implementation of furloughs under sequestration.
  • Roll Call oped: The Wrong Way to Do Sequester. An increasingly likely outcome of the looming budget sequester is the prospect of all Pentagon programs being cut equally — about 10 percent — regardless of performance, potential or priority. The administration and Congress may actually allow this to happen, damaging successful and well-performing programs in the developmental pipeline while preserving failing or antiquated programs. Doing so would be a major mistake
  • Washington Business Journal oped: Ray Bjorklund: Over the edge in a cardboard barrel. Looking only at the president’s budget, defense contract spending is slotted to dip about 8 percent during fiscal 2013. Factor in sequestration, set to kick in Friday, and that decline bumps to as much as 13 percent. Either way, contractors have to focus on stable or growing market segments. Fast.

The 7 Stories You Need To Know

  1. Senate Republicans are on track to confirm several of President Barack Obama’s key Cabinet officials, despite weeks of protests and grandstanding from the GOP. Yesterday the Senate broke the filibuster on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel. He was confirmed 58-41. And Roll Call reports, at the committee level, senators approved the nomination of former White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew for Treasury secretary and are set to consider the more controversial pick of John O. Brennan for director of the CIA on Thursday.
  2. Washington Business Journal reports, a panel concluded that congress should change the way information technology programs are funded and provide agencies with more flexibility to tap a reserve when upgrades or changes in requirements are needed.
  3. NextGov reports, The New York Times is the latest media outlet to liken the quiet standoff between the United States and China over cyber security to “a new Cold War.” In a Sunday evening piece of news analysis, the paper’s David E. Sanger wrote about “how different the worsening cyber-cold war between the world’s two largest economies is from the more familiar superpower conflicts of past decades — in some ways less dangerous, in others more complex and pernicious.”
  4. Federal Times reports, agencies hosted or attended 767 large conferences at a cost of $268 million last year, according to new federal data released Wednesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Leading the list of agencies that attended or hosted conferences that cost taxpayers more than $100,000 was the Defense Department, with 295 conferences at a total cost of $89 million, according to the data. The Health and Human Services Department was next with 140 conferences at a cost of $56 million.
  5. Federal News Radio reports, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, head of theGovernment Accountability Office says GAO’s staffing level will plunge to a near-historic low under sequestration. It will also trim employee benefits. The agency is already in emergency-management mode after losing a chunk of its funding and trimming staff to the lowest level in decades. It gets about 1,000 audit requests from lawmakers a year.
  6. Federal news Radio reports, a new bill would make Congress fully fund the discretionary portion of the Veterans Affairs Department a year in advance. It already follows this practice for veterans medical benefits. Backers on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee say the bill would ensure VA has the money it needs for IT projects aimed at reducing claims backlogs. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (D-Maine). VA’s IT budget is around $3 billion annually.
  7. And on GovLoop, if you are taking part in our Virtual Career Fair tomorrow, make sure you come prepared by downloading our free prep kit. You can get it here.

Water-Cooler Fodder

  • TheEconomist debate: Do most organizations adapt too slowly to change?
  • NBC: Her rightful place’: Rosa Parks statue being unveiled in US Capitol. More than half a century after she sat defiantly on an Alabama city bus, Rosa Parks will stand in the U.S. Capitol.

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