Weekly News Kickoff: Can the House and Senate Agree on Agency Funding? - (Archived)

Once again, the House and Senate are on different paths. Will both chambers pass spending bills by September, in time to avoid what has now become an annual threat of a government shutdown? We have the summer to see how this plays out … and no doubt it will come down to the deadline. Welcome to the weekly news kickoff. Enjoy these highlights.

Agency Funding in Limbo as House and Senate Forge Different Paths
While the House is bogged down by what both parties refer to as ideological and “poison” policy provisions — which crop up every year in the funding process — the Senate has moved its spending bills forward with relative ease, GovExec.com reports. The upper chamber last month approved a package that would fund the departments of Veterans Affairs, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development with 89 votes. It also passed its own energy and water bill with 90 votes. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved nine of the 12 appropriations measures required each year, all with unanimous support. The House has approved only the VA spending bill, while the chamber’s Appropriations Committee has approved seven measures. Many of those won unanimous support by voice vote, but Democrats made clear they would not support the bills on the floor without changes. It is unclear how the House will proceed, but both chambers must pass spending bills and get them to President Obama’s desk by Sept. 30 to avoid a stopgap measure or shutdown. For now, the Senate will continue to focus on its own legislation.

Agencies Get Hard Deadlines To Meet Software Policy
OMB‘s Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued final guidance Thursday on the administration’s software licensing policy, which, released in draft form in December, calls for agencies to consolidate and eliminate redundant software licenses, FedScoop reports. The guidance is in line with category management, a strategy to make the buying and managing of commoditized goods and services in the federal government more efficient and unified by grouping similar products into categories. The new guidance calls for agencies to take on “a more centralized and collaborative software management approach,” and when possible buy licenses using governmentwide agreements, like the one recently negotiated with geospatial IT firm Esri.

Big Data Tools Saved Taxpayers $1.5B in Medicare Fraud, CMS Officials Say
The big data tools the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, use to fight Medicare fraud have saved taxpayers over $1.5 billion over the past five years, CMS officials are claiming. These big data and predictive analytics tools are part of the Fraud Prevention System that CMS began using five years ago to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare fee-for-service program, FierceGovernmentIT reports.

DoD Implementing System To Monitor Insider Threats
The Defense Department, concerned about the potential damage from insider threats, is planning to build a database to monitor, analyze and identify employee practices that could be putting the department at risk, whether intentionally or accidentally, Defense Systems reports. DoD’s Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center and DoD Component Insider Threat Records System is in keeping with a 2011 executive order requiring all federal agencies — defense and civilian — to establish insider threat programs. The system will monitor users for indications of insider threats to “enable the identification of systemic insider threat issues and challenges,” and find ways to mitigate them, according to a DoD announcement.

Are CIOs Being Frank With the IT Dashboard?
Government Accountability Office watchdogs warn that CIOs in some agencies are undercutting the usefulness of the federal IT dashboard, FCW reports. The dashboard is meant to offer feds and the public a way to keep tabs on how IT investments are likely to proceed, but in a report released June 2, GAO found that many agency CIOs are giving green “low risk” ratings to projects that are actually medium- or high-risk. GAO estimated risk ratings for 95 IT investments and asserted that its projections determined higher risk ratings than agency CIOs gave for 65 percent of the projects. In some cases, agencies didn’t update assessments often enough, while in others they ignored active risks, GAO said.



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