The Budget and the Sequester – Plus the DorobekINSIDER 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:
  • Sequestration carries the threat of widespread furloughs of many federal employees, but the alternatives could amount to a case of pick your poison for those same feds. We go over the alternatives with the Post's Eric Yoder. Click here for the full recap.
The DorobekINSIDER sequestration reader: day 4 -- focusing on the CR House GOP reveals six-month spending plan. “House Republicans moved ahead Monday behind a six-month stopgap spending bill that would keep the government funded through September but also lock in appropriations at a far lower level than even Rep. Paul Ryan's budget envisioned last spring…New estimates Monday by the Congressional Budget Office show that current appropriations levels will drop by about $59 billion from $1.043 trillion to $984 billion for 2013. That's $33 billion below the ceiling set by House Republicans last spring. And having just won reelection, Obama is being put in a remarkable situation in which he must manage the government with fewer real discretionary dollars than his Republican predecessor President George W. Bush had five years ago.” David Rogers in Politico. It makes the sequester’s cuts less indiscriminate. But it doesn’t undo them. “Republicans propose to offset that money with cuts elsewhere, such as extending a salary freeze for federal employees and members of Congress…These relatively modest changes amount to nibbling around the edges of the new austerity plan introduced with the sequester.” Rosalind S. Helderman in the Washington Post. AP: GOP funding measure would extend federal pay freeze: The measure would extend the federal pay freeze and leave in place automatic sequestration cuts but would award the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments their detailed 2013 budgets while other agencies would be frozen at 2012 levels -- and then bear the across-the-board cuts. New OMB report lacks details on sequestration cuts: A report released by the White House to detail automatic budget cuts details reductions only down to the budget account level -- not to the more granular program, project and activity level and varies in the level of detail describing cuts to specific agency budgets. BARRO: Why government ought to grow. “There are two key reasons why the ideal spending-to-GDP ratio should change over time, and be higher in the future than it was in the past. First, in the future, a smaller percentage of Americans will be of working age. That means spending on entitlements for the elderly should rise as a share of the economy…Second, our policy priorities have changed. The key conceit behind the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was that the federal government ought to be doing something that it wasn't: providing a universal health care entitlement.” Josh Barro in Bloomberg. Sequester Reader:
  • Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel tells CIO Journal that sequestration will help gov IT transformation.
  • CS Monitor: Sequester blues: Morning-after hangover hits Washington:The morning after the 'sequester' spending cuts went into effect, the earth did not stand still nor did Washington come to its collective senses. Next up: How to avoid a government shutdown March 27 when federal spending expires without a continuing resolution.
  • The New Yorker: Uh-Oh! This Sequester Show Could Go On and On
  • Fiscal Times: And there is the CR: Obama and Boehner Budget Breakthrough? Or Government Shutdown! 
  • GovExec: Everything's coming up roses for the Postal Service, isn't it? #Sequester will add to USPS' problems, officials say. 
Obama’s second-term Cabinet to play bigger policy role-- President Obama, facing a limited window of time to enact an ambitious second-term agenda, is rounding out his Cabinet with relative outsiders and empowering them with more policymaking responsibility than secretaries had during his first term. Obama reached outside his circle of confidants to formally name three new Cabinet nominees at the White House on Monday: Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary, career environmental official Gina McCarthy as Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Wal-Mart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews Burwell as White House budget director. The appointees and others named in recent weeks mark a departure for Obama, who stocked his first-term Cabinet with politicos but has recruited more business executives and other outsiders for his last four years. -Washington Post
The SEVEN stories that impact your life
  1. Too many IG recommendations are not implemented, that’s the assesment from a new House committee report. The Washington Post reports, nearly 17,000 recommendations from agency inspectors general remain pending that if fully implemented would save more than $67 billion. The hearing, focusing on the Education and Transportation Departments, is the first of a planned series on how agencies are responding to reports from IGs, which are independent offices within agencies that audit programs and investigate possible waste, fraud and abuse.
  2. Inspector general report confirms rise in air traffic control errors. The Washington Post reports, in an audit released Monday, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation said that “the increase in reported errors was linked, in part, to a rise in actual errors rather than increased reporting.”
  3. NASA has launched a $20 billion dollar governmentwide IT contract. NextGov reports, like the four previous versions of the Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement V contract vehicle, SEWP V is focused primarily on computer servers, mass storage and networking, but NASA has updated its shopping listto keep pace with advances in technology and agency requirements since 2007, when the previous contract, SEWP IV, was awarded.
  4. Federal Times reports, most agencies got low marks on the White House’s latest quarterly scorecard measuring their progress in improving cybersecurity. With the exception of the Defense Department and the General Services Administration, agencies are well below the administration’s 2014 goal for requiring 90 percent of federal workers and contractors to use Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards to access agencies’ information systems.
  5. Federal News Radio reports,  The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund said it is bracing for an avalanche of requests for furlough assistance. It won't award any furlough loans until an employee actually receives a "short" paycheck. Then, it will serve first those feds in danger of eviction, foreclosure or having their utilities shut off. FEEA lends federal employees small amounts of $1,000 or less. It expects to have less money to give because it also relies on federal employees to donate money.
  6. FCW reports, The General Services Administration may create a new Multiple Award Schedule program to aid agencies in managing meetings and conference events in light of budget constraints, administration memos and congressional legislative efforts to keep a close eye on spending. GSA’s idea—the Meetings Management Program (MMP)—would offer a disciplined, enterprise-wide approach to managing conferences and events, including the activities, processes, suppliers and data regarding the meetings. The program would aim to save money, mitigate risk and improve meetings overall.
  7. And on GovLoop, have you registered for the for the March DorobekINSIDER live. It’s all about the role of Gov 2.0.
 Water-Cooler Fodder
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