Browsing: Congress

Veterans Day moment of silence dropped from compromise National Defense Authorization Act

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When Congress decides to create a compromise bill for  sweeping legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act, it stands to reason that some items will be left on the cutting room floor. But apparently a proclamation calling for a moment of silence for veterans on Veterans Day did not make it in to the final version of the bill, which passed the House Dec.4. The original version of the bill that the House passed May required the president to issue a proclamation each year calling for two minutes of silence on Veterans Day. The Senate version of the NDAA did not…

Committee passes bill to limit Oil paintings for government officials to $20,000 each

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted May 21 to limit the federal dollars spent on oil paintings of government officials – and restrict who gets to have themselves painted. The aptly named Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would permanently cap the amount of each painting to $20,000 and would limit those eligible to those in line for presidential succession. While the government is currently prohibited from spending money on oil paintings of government officials the ban lasts only through this fiscal year,…

11 things you probably didn't know were in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015

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On May 8, the House Armed Services Committee voted on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 – about 15 minutes after midnight. The committee voted on hundreds of amendments and debated the legislation for more than 12 hours before finally passing it. You have probably heard some of the highlights of whats in the bill, but here is a longer list of stuff that made it in that you might not have heard about. Now remember, the bill still needs to be voted on by the full House and then by the Senate, so there are still changes that…

GSA "Billionaire" parody creator files copyright, lawmaker wants it back

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On April 2, 2012 a General Services Administration Inspector General report detailed wasteful practices at an $823,000, 2010 regional conference in Las Vegas, leading to the ouster of GSA’s top leadership and reforming government conference spending. A music-video parody of Travie McCoy’s music video for ‘Billionaire’ featuring Bruno Mars by then GSA employee Hank Terlaje titled “The Commissioner Project” and shown at the conference quickly became one of the most famous – or infamous – parts of the ongoing scandal. It’s also quite catchy. (Full disclosure: Terlaje says in the song that every time he closes his eyes he sees…

FedLine begins round-up of shutdown-related developments

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Good morning! Today we launch a new–and presumably temporary–feature on FedLine: A regular (as events warrant) rundown of all the noteworthy shutdown-related news that we can find. Given what happened over the weekend, we’re playing catch-up today. As always, would appreciate your help in keeping federal employees informed on what’s happening across government. You can email tips at any time to shutdownstories@federaltimes.com. Feel free to offer suggestions on how to make this feature useful. We’ll start by calling it “Shutdown Watch,” but are definitely open to something more original. So,  we start Day 7 of the partial shutdown with what…

NIST cancels conference as shutdown looms

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At least one federal conference is being postponed this week because of a potential government shutdown. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is postponing its Cloud Computing and Mobility Forum this week “because we could not guarantee NIST’s facility would be open on the first day of the meeting, Oct. 1,” according to an agency spokeswoman. “The meeting has not been rescheduled.” More than 500 people had registered for the conference, including about 130 federal employees. Many federal employees would be forced to stay home without pay if Congress doesn’t strike a budget deal by midnight. Just at DoD, some 400,000 employees…

House to vote on information-sharing cyber bill

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House lawmakers will consider a bill Wednesday that would allow companies and federal agencies to voluntarily share and receive cyber threat information with each other. The Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) passed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence April 10 and will be introduced on the House floor Wednesday. A vote is expected by Thursday. An earlier version of the bill passed the House last April but lacked additional privacy controls included in the revised bill. Still, that has not satisfied the White House and civil liberties groups who say the bill’s current provisions are insufficient. CISPA…

Senate rejects cybersecurity legislation

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The Senate on Wednesday failed to pass cybersecurity legislation that would set voluntary security standards for owners of critical infrastructure, such as dams, energy and water systems. Senators voted 51-47 in favor of the bill, S 3414, but fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with final passage. “Cybersecurity is dead for this Congress,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said following the vote. “What an unfortunate thing.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a co-sponsor of the Cybersecurity Act, expressed similar disappointment. “In all my years on the Homeland Security Committee, I cannot think of another issue where…

TSA's insider threat program lacks policies, procedures

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While the Transportation Security Administration has made headway in defending against insider attacks, the agency lacks specific policies and procedures to mitigate those threats, according to a recent inspector general audit. The September audit, released this week, found that TSA has not implemented insider threat policies and procedures that clearly explain its employees’ role in defending against insider threats. TSA also lacks a risk mitigation plan that ensures all employees address the risks of insider threats in a consistent way. TSA defines insider threat as “one or more individuals with access or insider knowledge that allows them to exploit the…

Group ranks Congress on privatization votes

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A coalition of businesses pushing for the privatization of government work ranked Congress this week on votes that would have invited more competition between the public and private sector. “We are seeing an unprecedented level of government expansion into numerous activities that should be left to the private sector,” John Palatiello, president of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition, said at a news conference at the National Press Club on Thursday. “In our free enterprise system, government should be the umpire, not the opposing team.” The coalition’s report lists how each member of the U.S. House and Senate voted on legislation, amendments and…

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