OMB to agencies: Learn to live with less

  • The Office of Management and Budget has issued its guidelines to federal agencies for 2019 budget submissions, effectively telling them to get comfortable with lower civilian spending and workforce levels. In a memo from OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, agencies are told their spending priorities are to reflect the administration’s efforts to reorganize the government and restructure the federal workforce. The directive said 2019 budgets should be no higher than 2018 submissions, and investments in programs OMB has identified as effective should increase no more than 5 percent. Agency budget submissions are due to OMB by Sept. 11. (OMB)
  • The Trump administration has signaled its backing for a boost in early retirement and separation incentives for all federal civilian employees. The proposal has been submitted to Congress for inclusion in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Under the proposal, the maximum Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment would increase from $25,000 to $40,000. Earlier, the House Armed Services Committee included a similar provision for civilians working at the Defense Department. (Federal News Radio)
  • A House of Representatives proposal would create a sixth branch of the Armed Forces. Language in the current version of the annual Defense authorization bill would take space missions from the Air Force and transfer them to a new U.S. Space Corps.  In a message to lawmakers Wednesday, the administration said the proposal is premature because the Defense Department is in the midst of a review of space organization and management. It’s one of two objections the administration lodged about provisions of the bill, which is expected to come to a vote on the House floor this week.  (White House)
  • The Defense Department said it will try to speed up its acquisition process with a handful of new legislative proposals. The recommendations increase the micro-purchasing threshold, which is currently set at $30,000 for services or supplies. It said it also wants to make it harder for contractors to protest procurement decisions.  The proposals would also cut back some reporting requirements on contractor employee compensation, which worries some government transparency advocates.  (Federal News Radio)
  • The House Appropriations Committee has released a bill allocating $1.6 billion to begin construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. But the bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2018 also negates one of President Trump’s promises — that Mexico would pay for building the wall.  The funding bill also provides resources to begin building the wall,  enhancing existing border security, and the hiring of more border patrol agents (The Hill)
  • The Trump Administration has proposed the creation of an industry-employee exchange.  The program would let federal employees work for a private corporation or organization on a temporary assignment for no more than two years. Industry employees would also be eligible to work on a temporary basis for a federal agency.  The proposal was submitted for possible inclusion in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration has defended its cancellation of the FBI headquarters project. GSA Administrator Tim Horne told Congress the planned move from its home on Constitution Ave. needed more money and lacked the right structure for a development deal.  But the idea’s not dead.  Horne said finding a new home for the FBI remains a priority for the GSA and the administration. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology has asked for some help for its cyber workforce. In the wake of President Trump’s executive order on strengthening the cybersecurity of federal networks and critical infrastructure, NIST has issued a request for information in search of any training programs aimed at strengthening the U.S. cybersecurity workforce. The RFI asked respondents to share best practices, challenges and suggested next steps. (Inside Cybersecurity)
  • Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo has told the Intelligence National Security Alliance the CIA has a commander-in-chief who appreciates its work. Relations between President Trump and the intelligence agency were rocky at the beginning of his administration, but Pompeo told the industry group, when it comes to having the confidence of the commander-in-chief,  the CIA and the intelligence community are in great shape. (CIA)