Time Ticking on Super Committee Cuts

Hey there I’m Christopher Dorobek, the DorobekINSIDER and welcome to GovLoop Insights Issue of the Week the second week of November. We’re glad you’re with us.

Each week, our goal is to look at an issue, a person, an idea that helped define the past 7-days but we also work to find a topic that also will have an impact on the days, weeks and months ahead. And as always, we focus on six words: helping you do your job better.

ISSUE OF THE WEEK

This week’s big story is the budget. And there was a lot of budget news this week.

The Senate this week approved must-do legislation to fund the day-to-day budgets of five Cabinet agencies, kick-starting long overdue work to add the details to budget limits agreed to by President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans this summer. The vote sets up negotiations with the GOP-controlled House on final legislation that could be presented to the president before Thanksgiving.

Hanging over the work on fiscal 2012 is the budget supercommittee, which must make its recommendations in just a few weeks. As you might have guessed all of this is has an enormous impact on how the government operates.

Ray Bjorklund is the chief knowledge office for market research firm Deltek. He says that we’ve been through several ages of austerity, but this one could be different. Bjorklund delves into the uncertainty that is surrounding the federal government. He points out that the government has a history of being slow with appropriations and how that isn’t a viable option this go around.

 

OTHER STORIES WE’RE FOLLOWING

One of the big stories of the week also involves your money and your job.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee started looking at a bill that seeks to reduce the federal workforce through attrition by 10 percent by 2015.

National Journal reports that the sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), estimates the legislation would save $139 billion over the next decade. The measure calls for hiring one federal employee to replace every three workers who retire or leave their job.

Meanwhile, the director of the Office of Management and Budget said its time to stop beating up on feds. Jacob Lew, speaking at a Politico event this week, also told feds that they shouldn’t take it personally if you don’t get a pay raise soon. The Washington Post reports that it is too early to say if federal employees will see a pay raise in fiscal 2013 — of course, feds have seen two years of pay freezes.

A few other Human Resources type stories:

We’ve been following the difficult launch of the updated version of USAJobs, the federal jobs Web site that has been plagued with problems. At the Government Learning conference this week sponsored by American Society for Training & Development and Public Manager magazine, I got to talk to John Berry, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Both at that conference and in a call with reporters he acknowledged that the launch was less than perfect, but he told me that he believe the site has been turned around.

Two other items. One more for people in the Washington, DC area and it involves snow. OPM this week announced new guidance in the event of snow events. Many of us remember the traffic nightmare earlier this year when snow moved into DC and the federal government let employees go early. The combination caused region-wide gridlock. OPM’s new guidance, the Washington Post reports: Leave the office by the time we tell you to go home or stay put until we say the roads are safe.

And before we move on from people issues… it’s the first Friday of the month so a quick assessment of how the Thrift Savings Plan accounts performed. And October was a good month for most of the TSP funds with positive numbers across the board. For the year, all funds are in positive territory except for the S-fund, the I fund made up of international stocks, and the L2040 fund.

The big procurement story of the week:

The Obama administration’s procurement chief is stepping down. OMB announced this week that Dan Gordon, who has led the Office of Federal Procurement Policy for nearly three years, is leaving. He will become the associate dean for government contracts law at George Washington University Law School. Dan Gordon has been a forceful advocate for the procurement workforce during his tenure and he leaves big shoes to fill.

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