Shutdown Showdown – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • We’ve all watched Sesame Street at some point in our lives. Every day during the show, the puppets express a simple and achievable lesson that each of the kids watching can take home with them. Oftentimes the lessons are about patience, perseverance, forgiveness and honor. How can those lessons apply to government?

But up front: One week since the Navy Yard shootings

It is one week since the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard killed 12 people.

  • President Obama spoke on Sunday to the victims

  • Remarks by the President at the Memorial Service for Victims of the Navy Yard Shooting

  • Washington Post: Lawmakers to seek answers on security screening in wake of Navy Yard shooting

  • OPM defends 2007 background check of Navy Yard shooter

  • The Washington Business Journal’s front page asked the question:

  • Is he the next one? What to do if you think the person sitting in a cubicle near you could be the next Aaron Alexis. Even if you notice a warning sign, then what? Both employment laws and modern office culture make many managers and co-workers afraid to act decisively when it comes to the touchy subject of mental health or family problems. “All of us have an obligation and accountability to not ignore the red flags when we feel it in our gut,” said Kathy Albarado, president and CEO of Helios HR in Reston. “We see the red flags, but we choose to ignore them because we don’t have the data, we might be wrong, we might be embarrassed.” Those fears are not unfounded. The Americans with Disabilities Act, health information privacy and anti-discrimination laws all strictly limit what actions workplaces can take once someone sees a “red flag.” Massive court judgments can cripple a company that improperly uses mental health information or acts against a worker without legal justification.

  • And WSJ: Is Your Office as Safe as You Think?

Shutdown showdown:

  • What the next eight days could bring– On Friday, the House passed a measure that would keep the government running through mid-December. But it came with what Democrats consider a poison pill. It defunds President Obama’s signature health-care law, known as Obamacare. There is no way whatsoever — think pigs flying — that the Senate will agree to the House plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said the House bill was “dead,” then for emphasis added: “Dead.” That sets up eight days of brinkmanship between the Republican House and the Democratic Senate and White House, leading to midnight Sept. 30, when much of the government will shut down if there’s no deal. Leaders on Capitol Hill expect the face-off to go right up to the deadline, if not beyond
  • As shutdown and default loom, crisis mode becomes Washington’s new normal

  • Washington Post: New FBI director dogged by budget problems: Big budget woes worry the FBI’s new director, James B. Comey, a mere two weeks into the hassle-filled job of a lifetime. The training pipeline for special agents is empty, curtailed by prior economizing. By Oct. 1, Comey must find about $800 million in savings out of an annual FBI budget of about $8.1 billion. Layoffs and furloughs appear inevitable. “I’m not playing a game,” Comey told reporters Thursday. “I’m not crying wolf.” And budget problems are not the only ones to confront the new director since his swearing-in Sept. 4, after a breezy 93 to 1 Senate confirmation vote

  • CRs past hold lessons for GOP: The biggest change in Congress these days may be just how many lawmakers — who got to Washington by winning more votes than someone else — don’t think the same rules apply to them here.

  • The Hill: Strained relationships increase likelihood of fiscal calamity

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has obtained the political support of three retired generals in her efforts to change how the Pentagon prosecutes sexual assault and other major criminal cases. Politico reports that thus far, Sen. Gillibrand has the backing of “retired Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, a former Obama administration Pentagon appointee; retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to be a three-star Army general; and retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who was the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist.”

  2. The standoff in Congress concerning Obamacare and the budget for the 2014 fiscal year continues with only one more week to go before the September 30 deadline. Federal News Radio reports that a number of conservatives, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are staunchly against passing a budget bill unless it includes a provision to defund Obamacare. This strategy has earned criticism from republicans and democrats alike, with many republicans stating that the strategy will prove to be unsuccessful and will only increase political support for democrats.

  3. More than twenty percent of mission-critical cybersecurity-related jobs at DHS are vacant according to a recent GAO report. Govinfo Security cites that this absence of necessary personnel is due to three primary factors: one, the length of time required for background checks and security clearances; two, the low pay when compared with the private sector; and three, the lack of clearly-defined skill sets for these positions. DHS intends to develop initiatives for recruiting and retaining cybersecurity specialists if there is funding available during the next fiscal year.

  4. Newly updated Thrift Savings Plan regulations now allow the same-sex spouse of a TSP participant to receive death benefits if the two were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Federal News Radio reports that this policy holds true regardless of the couple’s state of residency. The change in TSP regulations is reflective of the Supreme Court’s decision this past June to overturn DOMA.

  5. Both the President and Congress are calling for a review of security clearance procedures following the shooting in the Navy Yard last week. Federal Times reports that President Obama has called for a review of security standards across government and that Congress has asked leaders of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to initiate a review of federal contract hiring practices.

  6. Many federal agencies have yet to implement security measures against insider threats despite having been ordered to do so by the administration nearly a year ago. Agencies state that a major obstacle to initiating the new security program is the amount of coordination that the program calls for between different offices. Federal Times notes, however, that the transition to new security measures has been easier for intelligence agencies due to longstanding security investments and a focus on counterintelligence and information protection.

  7. President Obama has chosen a panel of advisers to act as an independent review board of the NSA’s surveillance efforts. The independent nature of this board has recently come into question, however, due to the board’s close ties to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA. Federal News Radio states that the panel’s exemption from U.S. rules requiring all federal committees to conduct their investigations in a manner observable by the public has raised further scrutiny. Specifically, the panel of advisers will not have to reveal their findings to the public until after they have reported to the White House.

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • The Hill: Political shows – Homeland, Veep, House of Cards – lose favor at Emmy Awards

  • The Hill: NSA posts opening for privacy officer

  • Americans are tweeting about ‘Syria’ almost as much as ‘twerking’ – sometimes more– When Miley Cyrus made twerking a mainstream phenomenon in August, many an outraged foreign policy wonk lamented that more Americans were tweeting about twerking more often than about Syria. As of yesterday, the haters have a study to back them up. New research from Floating Sheep, a collective of academic Internet analysts, found that in August, more people tweeted about twerking than Syria in every state except Alaska and Vermont.

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