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FCW : March 15, 2013
Trending March 15, 2013 FCW.COM 3 The debate over government spend- ing is shifting from across-the-board cutbacks at agencies to a more sweep- ing focus on all federal accounts. As a March 27 deadline looms for extending a continuing resolution and preventing a shutdown of all operations, President Barack Obama and lawmakers face the challenge of nding ways to loosen the policy stranglehold. As FCW went to press in late Feb- ruary, the sequester appeared increas- ingly likely to go into effect. But the omnibus spending bill poses an even larger threat for already distressed federal employees and contractors. Instead of furloughs and spending delays, they might have to contend with a government shutdown and uncertain prospects for how and when funding will be restored. The steps to resolve the latest con- ict seem clear. Leaders of the congres- sional appropriations committee have a long tradition of bipartisan coopera- tion and could craft a compromise on spending for the next six months. Such a step would also offer a convenient opportunity to relax the sequester, which is where the debate between White House and congressional lead- ers has bogged down on political talk- ing points. Nevertheless, it is far from clear that the once-powerful appropria- tors have the leverage or the clout to make a deal. Only a couple of months ago, the spending panels contended with unexpected obstacles before they nally passed a nearly $60 bil- lion emergency spending bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. But 179 House Republicans and 36 Senate Republicans voted against the mea- sure in a dramatic sign of the GOP s aversion to once-routine spending and the breakdown of the appropriators consensus-building approach. In hindsight, a unique situation led to last September s controversy-free six- month approval of a continuing reso- lution for all spending. Neither party wanted another embarrassing show- down on the eve of the presidential election, so they were willing to retain the spending levels that had been set in the August 2011 agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling. But the dynamics of the spending debate have changed radically since then. Republicans failed to score their expected election gains. Con- gress and Obama averted the " scal cliff" with a New Year s Eve deal that included mostly tax hikes. And with the spending sequester scheduled to take effect, the $1 trillion discretionary spending baseline has essentially been reduced by tens of billions of dollars in an approach that most sides agree is irrational. The timetable is short, not least because Congress is scheduled to start a two-week Easter recess on March 22. And with Obama and congressional Democrats turning their attention to other domestic and overseas issues, there seems scant basis for optimism that wise heads will prevail on the spending showdown. --- Richard E. Cohen After the sequester: Why March 27 is even scarier FCW CALENDAR 3/20 Federal 100 The 2013 Federal 100 winners will be honored --- and this year s Eagle award winners announced --- at FCW s 24th annual awards gala. Washington, D.C. http://fcw.com/fed100 3/20-21 Big data The CIA s Gus Hunt is among the speakers at GigaOm s Structure:Data con- ference on the infrastructure, management and workforce challenges of putting big data to work. New York. http://is.gd/uwuxir 3/21Cloud architecture The Congressional Research Service s Eric Fisher and NIST s Robert Bohn will discuss the real-world challenges of moving agency IT to the cloud at this FCW Executive Brie ng. Washington, D.C. http://is.gd/ovofuh in savings last year were sparked by GAO ndings, said Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. $55.8B
March 30, 2013