No sequestration for agencies this year

  • Agencies will not face cuts from sequestration in the final six weeks of the fiscal year. The Congressional Budget Office reiterated its earlier findings that discretionary spending will not bust the budget caps established in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. CBO warned the caps could be breached if Congress adds any new appropriations before Sept. 30 though. If that’s done, then the 2018 discretionary budgets would have to be reduced. (Congressional Budget Office)
  • The Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service is moving into the growing world of online contactless payments. Citizens and military service members along with their families can now use payment methods such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay at National Park Service sites and military commissaries. The Bureau wants to increase the volume of electronic collections.
  • The Veterans Affairs Department pushed back the launch of its new White House VA Hotline by two months. VA needs more time so it can hire mostly veterans to answer hotline calls. The current pilot hotline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. It’ll be a 24-hour operation no later than Oct. 15. (Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • Military personnel living on Navy bases will have to start footing the bill for their renter’s insurance. In a message to the fleet, Navy officials said they’re amending their business agreements with private housing operators to remove the requirement that they provide renter’s insurance as part of military members’ leases. The changes are expected to start taking effect within six months, and officials said sailors should seriously consider buying their own policies. The new policy stems from a 2005 change in which Congress allowed DoD to remove insurance costs from the calculations for all service members’ housing allowances. The Marine Corps and Air Force have already implemented similar policies. (Navy)
  • Forget the retirement tsunami, worry about the electronic records avalanche. Mark Bradley, director of the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office, warned the build up of records produced by the intelligence community since 9-11 could bury agencies under classification requests. Bradley cited a recent ISOO report on agencies’ security classification programs. (Federal News Radio)
  • The safety of the federal technology supply chain is a growing concern. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission wants to take a closer look at the technology agencies are buying and whether its safe from cyber vulnerabilities. The commission hired Interos to produce a one-time unclassified report on supply chain vulnerabilities from China in federal IT procurement. The report will review six areas, including existing laws and regulations and whether they include any loopholes that would let vulnerable products into the supply chain. Policymakers will use the report to better manage risks associated with Chinese-made products and services. (Interos)
  • With six weeks left until the end of the fiscal year, budget experts encouraged federal contractors to start preparing for a possible government shutdown. But representatives from the Professional Services Council and other firms say the government will reach the debt ceiling within days of the end of the fiscal year, so be prepared. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House recommended federal spending transparency move to the next stage. In its report to Congress on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, the Office of Management and Budget said a test showed success in linking federal account information to contract and grant awards  as required by the Data Act. Now OMB recommends three next steps: standardizing more data elements, developing ways to auto-populate reporting fields, and developing new end-user applications for procurement and grant data. (White House)
  • The Trump administration wants to protect agencies from insider threats, but can they go too far and actually discourage whistleblowers? That’s a concern of the Project on Government Oversight. It sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel, requesting an investigation into anti-insider threat posters at the Energy Department, which failed to clarify that whistleblower rights supercede management communications. (Project on Government Oversight)