NASA has extended the deadline for bids on its $20 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract, following last month’s government shutdown.
The agency has extended the due date to Nov. 15, according to an online notice. Originally, companies had until Oct. 14 to bid.
NASA said the 16-day shutdown delayed its response to industry’s questions as well as changes to the solicitation.
The contract will provide agencies with desktops, laptops, servers and other information technology equipment.
Employees at the IRS and Customs and Border Protection should get at least some shutdown-related back pay at soon as tomorrow, senior leaders at the two agencies said today.
“You will receive your back and regular pay a full four days earlier than Oct. 28, the day most people would receive pay,” Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in an email to employees. In a similar note, Assistant CBP Commissioner Eugene Schied said that employees there should see retroactive salary payments show up “as early as Thursday.”
The two agencies, whose combined workforces total almost 150,000, are both paid through the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents workers at both IRS and CBP, is “grateful” that agency leaders “made this a priority and that employees at the agency and at the payment centers worked diligently to get this done,” Colleen Kelley, the union’s president, said in a statement. As early as tomorrow, CBP workers should receive back pay for Pay Period 19, which includes the first week of the shutdown, Kelley said, while a deposit for Pay Period 20 should follow on Monday, Oct. 28.
Thousands of federal workers got a welcome arrival in their bank accounts today: An ahead-of-schedule deposit for back pay owed from the partial government shutdown.
While the Obama administration had said that the money would show up in employees’ next paychecks after the shutdown ended last week, the Interior’s Department’s Business Center scheduled an “off-cycle” payment today for most Interior employees, along with many of those at NASA, the National Science Foundation and 39 other agencies who also get their paychecks through the center, spokesman Mike Fernandez said in an email.
The payments came one week ahead of the next normal biweekly pay date, Oct. 29, Fernandez said, and represented an effort “to provide retroactive pay as quickly as possible.” The center, which last month suffered a processing glitch that delayed some paychecks, handles payroll for about 240,000 employees.
Beth Cobert’s arrival at the Office of Management and Budget is getting a particularly warm welcome from Steve VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer. In a Twitter message this afternoon, VanRoekel hailed Cobert ‘s confirmation as OMB’s deputy director for management, noting that he can now go back to being “full-time US CIO!”
Cobert, who comes from consulting firm McKinsey & Co., was sworn in today, five days after winning Senate confirmation. She replaces Jeff Zients, who stepped down at the end of April; on top of his day job, VanRoekel had been filling in as deputy management director since May. Also applauding Cobert’s confirmation was Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Throughout the executive branch, the deputy management director plays a “critical leadership role” in “helping to guide agencies through these challenging financial times and promoting long-term management reforms that will deliver both better results and savings for taxpayers,” Carper said in a statement today. Cobert’s “private sector experience has prepared her well for this role,” he said, “and I look forward to working with her as she helps promote better management throughout our government.”
For anyone who’s keeping score, incidentally, this is the first time since January 2012 that the three top posts (director, deputy director for budget and deputy director for management) at OMB have all been filled by Senate-confirmed appointees.
The 16-day partial government shutdown is officially over as President Obama has signed a stop-gap spending bill, Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell said in a message released early Thursday morning.
“This evening, the President signed a continuing resolution that reopens the federal government and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance to all departments and agencies to resume operations in a prompt and orderly manner,” Burwell said. “In the days ahead, we will work closely with departments and agencies to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible. This has been a particularly challenging time for Federal employees and I want to thank our nation’s dedicated civil servants for their continued commitment to serving the American people.”
Feds will receive back pay in their next paychecks, a Burwell spokesman said in a follow-up email. Agencies are “strongly encouraged” to use telework and other ”workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work for employees,” OPM said in a statement on its website.
The bill, approved today by the House and Senate, will fund the government through Jan. 15.
The legislation would also allow a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase for federal employees, according to a joint news release from Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Ben Cardin, D-Md. The release does not make clear whether added steps will be needed to ensure that the proposed raise takes effect. Here is a cut-and-paste version of the release:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today announced that the bipartisan legislation to end the Tea Party Republican shutdown and reopen the federal government allows a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees and ensures that federal employees furloughed through no fault of their own receive their full pay.
“I’m proud to have fought on the front lines for federal employee pay as hard as federal employees fight on the front lines each and every day for America,” Senator Mikulski said. “The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers. They have been the targets of unending attacks. They’ve been furloughed, laid off and locked out through no fault of their own. I believe federal employees should never be scapegoats in fights over deficit reduction.”
“The government shutdown was a real punch in the gut to federal workers who were already reeling from multi-year pay freezes, sequestration cuts and furloughs, as well as threats to health and retirement benefits. These hardworking public servants did not cause our economic crisis, but they paid a heavy price. I’m proud we were able to fulfill our promise to make them whole again with back pay and finally break through the pay freeze with a modest adjustment for next year,” said Senator Cardin. “As they return to doing their work on behalf of the American people, I will continue to fight to keep federal workers from being pawns in every budget battle that lies ahead.”
As Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski fought to ensure the final agreement to reopen the federal government would permit the President to implement his plan for a 1 percent pay raise in January, 2014. Senator Cardin introduced the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, which was cosponsored by Senators Mikulski, Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The Cardin bill, which was included in the final agreement approved Wednesday, guaranteed that federal workers who were furloughed because of the lapse in federal funding or government shutdown would receive their full pay.
Federal employee pay has been frozen for three years with no cost-of-living adjustments, leaving families stressed and stretched. They have been subjected to rolling furloughs since March due to sequester and have also been required to pay 2.3 percent more from their salaries into their retirement plans.
Maryland is home to the headquarters of 20 major federal agencies, from the Social Security Administration to the Food and Drug Administration. More than 130,000 federal employees live and work in Maryland, serving the nation and serving the world.
The bipartisan legislation passed today funds the government through January 15, 2014 and extends our nation’s debt limit through February 7, 2014. It also starts the budget conference that Democrats have been fighting to start for the past six months so Congress can come together on a long-term solution. The House and the Senate will name conferees and the agreement will call for the budget conference to finish by December 13th. The legislation now moves to the White House to be signed into law by President Obama.
Officially, today (i.e., Oct. 14, marking Columbus Day) remains on the books as a paid federal holiday. But because of the partial government shutdown, only a limited number of federal employees are scheduled to be paid for it.
Even employees deemed “excepted” (or as many feds put it, “essential”) during the shutdown must take today as an unpaid furlough day unless required to report to work, according to Office of Personnel Management instructions (check out pp. 12 and 13). As OPM puts it in a helpful question-and-answer format:
Good Morning! Today is a federal holiday, but that doesn’t mean much to hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees as the partial government shutdown enters its third week. According to a message from one agency leader, the Office of Personnel Management has said this is an unpaid furlough day both for non-excepted and excepted employees unless they are required to report to “perform excepted functions.”
And about ending that shutdown . . . Sunday produced lots of saber-rattling and zero tangible evidence that a deal is in sight, either on reopening the government or raising the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, with just three days now remaining before the Obama administration says it will run out of emergency borrowing authority.
Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev,. sounded an upbeat note, saying that he had a “productive conversation” with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “Our discussions were substantive, and we will continue those discussions,” Reid said on the Senate floor, according to the Congressional Record. “I am optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion to the issues before this country today.”
The stock market seems a bit dubious, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major indices all initially down this morning.
But if this fight originated in Republicans’ insistence on defunding implementation of the Affordable Care Act, (aka Obamacare), the battlefield has now expanded to encompass Democrats’ demands to soften or eliminate this fiscal year’s looming sequester-related budget cuts. Absent any congressional action to rewrite the 2011 Budget Control Act, the next round of reductions is likely to hit in January. McConnell is open to including changes in a debt ceiling increase, as long as the end result doesn’t raise overall spending levels and doesn’t involve a tax increase, according to an aide. But opening a new front in the conflict may make it that much harder to resolve, particularly with time growing short before a possible debt default.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., warned that Democrats are “on the verge of being one tick too cute.” Just as the Republican-controlled House overreached in seeking to undo the health care law, Democrats are overreaching “as they see the House possibly in disarray,” Corker said.
The upshot (hold your breath): A final deal may involve a short-term continuing resolution to reopen the government and buy time for talks on a broader budget agreement. According to The Wall Street Journal , Reid sounded out McConnell on a CR that would run through mid-December at current spending levels, accompanied by an approximately six-month debt limit increase. In our deadline-driven political system, the expectation is that all sides will come together in time to stave off catastrophe (think August 2011). But assuming that the Senate can pass the usual stop-gap bill, the measure still has to get through the House, long-time budget watcher Stan Collender noted today in a Tweet. “No guarantee at all House GOP will follow even if [the Senate[ vote is 100-0,” Collender wrote.
In other news:
The Federal Housing Administration is calling on mortgage lenders to be sensitive to financial hardships facing federal employees and contractors subject to furloughs, layoffs or lost income stemming from the shutdown. That advisory comes as many, if not most, feds receive smaller than usual paychecks because of the shutdown.
The National Association of State Budget Officers (in case you thought the spending stalemate only affects feds) puts out a brief on what the shutdown means for state governments.
The American Federation of Government Employees warns that this week will be a “critical turning point” for many of its members as their paychecks run out.
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Good morning! As many observers predicted, the government shutdown crisis has now morphed into the will-Congress-raise-the-debt-ceiling-in-time-to-avert-a-global-financial-panic crisis. Although there are some glimmers of movement, it’s less clear in what direction. If the presumption is that both stalemates will be settled together, however, that means furloughed feds will likely remain out of work through at least part of next week.
The Washington Post, for example, reports today that key congressional Republicans are showing willingness to back down from their insistence on delaying or defunding implementation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as the price of reopening shuttered agencies.
But with the government expecting to be unable to pay all its bills as early as next Thursday, the administration is now focused on getting GOP lawmakers to take the threat seriously, according to The Hill. Some GOP lawmakers have questioned whether a debt default would really lead to a cataclysm; at a Senate Finance Committee hearing this morning, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew blasted those arguments as “irresponsible and reckless,” according to prepared testimony released in advance.
One option would be a short-term agreement to raise the debt ceiling in return for talks over broader changes to the tax code and federal benefit programs. That could include asking federal employees to contribute more to their retirement, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wrote in an opinion piece published in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (online a day earlier).
Another possibility (not mentioned in Ryan’s piece, but backed by both the White House and many Republicans) would be switching to the “chained consumer price index” as the inflation gauge for calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to federal pensions, veterans benefits and Social Security payments. There’s thus far no evidence that the administration is willing to put that on the table as part of a bipartisan budget deal, but just in case, federal employee organizations and other groups held a preemptive news conference yesterday to denounce the idea.
In other news, the Defense Department announced that it’s effectively outsourcing the payment of death gratuities to survivors of fallen service members to a private foundation. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was “offended, outraged and embarrassed” that the government couldn’t keep making these payments on its own. But even after passage of the Pay Our Military Act, Hagel said, “we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make these payments to the families directly.”
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to email@example.com.
Good morning! For several hundred thousand federal employees, it’s another day of unpaid time off with-once again—no end on the horizon as President Obama, House Republicans and Senate Democrats all remain seemingly dug into their respective positions.
There’s also no immediate sign that Congress is going to give final passage to legislation that would ensure retroactive pay for furloughed feds once the shutdown ends. After Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, signaled objections to fast-track consideration of the back-pay bill passed by the House on Saturday, the House GOP leadership tried again yesterday, linking a separate back-pay measure to legislation that would create a bipartisan “working group” to examine spending and debt issues.
That idea immediately drew comparisons to the congressional ”supercommittee,” whose failure to clinch a long-term deficit reduction agreement two years ago triggered the budget sequester that took effect in March. Although the two-bill package quickly passed the Republican-run House yesterday, there’s next to no chance that the Democratic-controlled Senate will take it up, particularly after the Obama administration issued a veto threat.
In other news, some CIA employees are going to back to work today, according to the announcement by the agency’s director, John Brennan. Last week, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, made waves by telling a congressional committee that some 70 percent of the intelligence community workforce was furloughed. Some of those employees have since gone back to work as part of the Defense Department recall announced Saturday. Unlike the DoD folks, who are covered by the Pay Our Military Act, the CIA staffers won’t be paid until after the shutdown ends, Brennan’s announcement indicates.
Any major developments we’ve missed, particularly in regard to agency news? Let us know with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The big news today is what’s not happening—i.e., there is no indication of any deal in sight to reopen the government this week. In addition, a bill to ensure back pay to hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees appears to be hitting a Senate slowdown. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., raced through the Republican-run House on a 407-0 vote Saturday; supporters had hoped for a similar glide through the Democratic controlled-Senate.
But on Monday, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called it “premature” to move ahead with the back pay bill while Democrats were refusing to take up other House-passed measures to selectively restore funding to high-profile agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Park Service, according to an article published on Roll Call’s website.
Rather than pushing the bill quickly through the Senate, Cornyn suggested that the legislation go through the “normal legislative process,” which would mean opening it up to amendments. As the Senate Minority Whip, Cornyn is number two in the Senate GOP’s pecking order, so his position presumably carries some weight.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did not respond to an email asking whether Reid planned to bring the back pay bill up before the full Senate this week. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined comment this morning.
In other news, some 7,000 Veterans Affairs Department employees join the ranks of the furloughed today.
Overall, VA–the second largest government agency–has fared much better than most; of some 332,000 total employees, fewer than 15,000 are subject to furloughs, according to its shutdown contingency plan. Many of the 7,000 sent home today work in regional offices that will now be closed. Something else to keep an eye on is the possibility that–should the shutdown continue into the second half of October–VA benefit checks could be delayed, including payments for disability compensation and GI Bill living stipends, according to the department.
Anything we’re missing in regard to major developments or agency responses to the shutdown? Send us a note at email@example.com