Reg Jones Expert's View

OMB has issued a memo instructing agencies on how to respond to uncertainty about the amount of funding available for the remainder of the fiscal year.

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If Congress does not amend current law President Obama will issue a sequestration order on March 1, canceling about $85 billion in budgetary resources. OMB noted that additional uncertainty results from the expiration of a temporary government-wide budget law on March 27.

According to the memo, agencies should generally use any available flexibility to reduce operational risks and minimize impacts on the agency’s core mission in service; identify and address serious operational challenges; identify the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs where necessary including hiring freezes, releasing temporary employees or not renewing term or contract hires; review grants and contracts to determine where cost savings may be achieved; take into account funding flexibilities; and, remain cognizant of requirements under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which in some circumstances can require advanced notice when terminating contracts, for example.

GSA Moving Forward With Plans for New FBI Headquarters

GSA this week is giving commercial real estate developers to an overview of plans to develop a new consolidated FBI headquarters, part of a series of changes that could ultimately result in the relocation of many thousands of employees.

Last month, GSA issued a request for information seeking ideas from the commercial real estate community and other interested parties on options for the FBI project. The current 2.4 million square foot headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. is "outdated and overcrowded," GSA said.

GSA is also moving forward with plans to redevelop a near-by span of city blocks known as Federal Triangle South, where several federal agencies and departments have offices. It hopes to find savings through increased energy efficiency, better use of existing spaces and more open, or mixed use and versatile layouts that are more conducive to collaborative working processes.

Speaking to an audience at the National Press Club recently, GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini said it would be important for the government to work with industry to develop office space addressing the needs of local economies and neighborhoods.

GAO: Key Elements Missing from Border Patrol Strategic Plan

Customs and Border Protection should ensure that the Border Patrol develops security goals and ways to assess progress made and resource needs, GAO has said in a new report.

It said key elements of a new strategic plan are not in place that are needed to inform border security status and resource needs. Border Patrol officials stated that performance goals and measures are in development.

Since fiscal year 2011, DHS has used the number of apprehensions on the southwest border as an interim goal and measure, according to GAO-13-25. However, it said that the interim measure does not inform program results and therefore limits DHS and congressional oversight and accountability.

Milestones and time frames could assist Border Patrol in monitoring progress in developing goals and measures necessary to assess the status of border security and the extent to which existing resources and capabilities are appropriate and sufficient, said GAO, adding that the Border Patrol expects to implement other key elements of its strategic plan over the next two fiscal years.

The ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, R-Miss., commended the agency for work in recent years indicating that borders are becoming more secure. (Apprehensions are down, though part of that is the result of economic regression.)

Thompson called on DHS to "fully develop its strategic plan, including border security milestones and timelines, to truly be able to measure its success in securing our Nation’s borders."