Senate panel passes improper federal bonuses bill

  • The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the Stop Improper Federal Bonuses Act. The bill would prohibit paying bonuses for five years to federal employees who are suspended, removed from their position or sentenced to jail time. It would also require the employee to repay any bonuses awarded for any year in which an adverse finding is made. The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote. (Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)
  • The cost of a postage stamp could be going up this fall. The Postal Regulatory Commission is reviewing  the postal rate system and there is bipartisan support for raising the cost of a first-class stamp from 49 cents to 50 cents. The Postal Service lost more than $5.5 billion last year as first class mail volume continues to decline due to the increased use of email for correspondence and business transactions. (Federal News Radio)
  • Lawmakers urged key Defense Department nominees to begin considering how to put a comprehensive cyber policy in place. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told the nominees the most likely attack faced by the U.S. is a cyber attack. One of those nominees, Kenneth Rapuano, nominee for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, agreed that the the U.S. critical infrastructure is extremely vulnerable. He called for tailored campaigns to deal with the most potentially troublesome attackers, not just China and Russia, but countries with mid-level capabilities like Iran and North Korea.
    (Federal News Radio)
  • Unions representing many Federal Aviation Administration employees warned Congress about attempts to privatize the U.S. air traffic control system. The unions told the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee tjhat privatization would be a serious setback for its development and growth.  President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans said privatization would make air traffic control operations more efficient.
    (Professional Aviation Safety Specialists)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set aside $12 million to help cover early buyouts and early retirements triggered by President Donald Trump’s government reorganization directive. EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Michael Flynn said the agency’s goal is to complete the early out program by the end of June. According to the Government Accountability Office,  45 percent of the EPA workforce is eligible for retirement. Trump proposed a budget for EPA that would eliminate nearly 4,000 employees in 2018. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Small Business Administration said the government reached its small business contracting goal for the fourth year in a row, earning it an “A-plus” on its small business procurement scorecard for 2016. The government spent nearly $100 billion on small business contracts in 2016. The federal government also exceeded its subcontract goals for awards to women-owned and small disadvantaged businesses. (Small Business Administration)
  • A top House appropriator says the Defense Department should expect a budget around $603 billion  in 2018. That’s the same amount President Donald Trump is requesting in his budget proposal. That goal would require Congress to once again come to a budget deal to avoid triggering sequestration cuts. Congress gave DoD $593 billion for 2017. Some members of Congress have suggested raising defense spending up to $640 billion to restore the readiness of the force. (Federal News Radio)
  • The number of federal data centers has decreased by about 500 from the high of 10,500 in November 2015. That’s the good news. The bad news from the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) most recent report estimated savings, long-term closures and even agreement over the data remain troublesome for the federal data center consolidation and optimization initiative. The Office of Management and Budget neither agreed or disagreed with GAO’s findings because it couldn’t replicate auditors’ data. OMB said, however, data center consolidation remains a high priority for the government’s chief information officer. (GAO)
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill to make it easier for Customs and Border Protection to meet its expanded hiring goals. The Boots on the Border Act would let the agency waive polygraph requirements for aspiring border patrol agents if they already have backgrounds in law enforcement or military service. More than 1,700 agent positions are unfilled at the moment. (Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee)