FCW Insider: 2019 Outlook

A look ahead at the coming year in federal IT, acquisition and human resources from FCW's reporters.

Federal employees will likely open 2019 with the government partially shut down. About 800,000 feds across the departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice, Treasury, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Interior, as well as employees of the General Services Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Executive Office of the President are furloughed or working without pay.

The first order of business, likely when a new Congress is seated Jan. 3, is getting the government up and running with a new slate of funding bills or continuing resolution. A protracted shutdown is a possibility, with a divided Congress and an administration intent on obtaining billions in funding for a controversial border wall. But feds want to get back to work -- and here's a look ahead at what they'll be working on in 2019.

*** GSA is planning big moves in e-commerce. The federal government's acquisition hub will tackle the complexities involved in translating federal acquisition regulations and practices into an e-commerce platform to let government buyers make small purchases with the ease of a shopper using Amazon.com. Mark Rockwell has the story.

*** DHS has a plan to get its newly renamed and empowered cyber agency -- the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency -- fully up and running by 2020. So next year is going to be one of planning, policymaking and growth at CISA. Get more from Mark.

*** As the government shutdown demonstrates, rank-and-file feds are frequently collateral damage in larger budget and policy fights. The Trump administration was increasingly going after federal unions in 2017 and 2018. Will having a Democratic controlled House change the outlook for unionized feds in 2019? And how are federal managers making out amid talk of a government reorganization? Chase Gunter takes a look.

*** Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle took a lot of heat in 2018 for botching opportunities to hold tech leaders accountable for privacy violations. Part of the problem -- an abject lack of knowledge about the way social media companies use -- and sometimes abuse -- user data. There's been a push in recent years to revive the Office of Technology Assessment, and with Democrats holding House, 2019 could be the year it happens. Chase explains.

*** While 2019 is an off-year for federal elections, with a run-up to what looks to be a highly contested 2020 vote, there will be a big legislative drive to pass new voting security legislation. House Democrats will likely push new election security legislation in 2019, but obstacles remain in the Senate and the White House. Derek B. Johnson reports.