FCW Insider: Jan. 3

The latest news, analysis and other updates from FCW's reporters and editors.

Shutdowns are bad for employee morale, but they also impact those looking to serve. Back in 2013 during another shutdown, we asked professors and students of government how the prospect of furloughs and unpaid work were affecting students planning careers in the federal government. Here's what they said.

Enough about agile! Steve Kelman shares a compelling argument that agencies should skip the buzzwords and simply embrace the principles of better software development.

After a year filled with robotic process automation pilots, agencies are focused on truly operationalizing in 2019. Matt Leonard has the story.

The Department of Health and Human Services rolled out new guidance to protect organizations in the health care sector from cyberattacks. Derek B. Johnson reports.

Quick Hits

*** The shutdown, now entering day 13, is likely to extend into next week and possibly much longer, after a Jan. 2 White House meeting between President Donald Trump and legislative leaders ended without any significant movement toward a solution. 

Trump said it "could be a long time" before the partial shutdown of government ends. Democrats take control of the House of Representatives later today, and they plan to pass six appropriations bills that fund agencies through the end of fiscal year 2019, as well as a continuing resolution covering the Department of Homeland Security. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he doesn't plan to introduce any funding measures in the Senate that won't be signed into law.

"I don't think any particular progress was made today," McConnell told reporters after the meeting. "It was a civil discussion," he said, adding that "we're hopeful that somehow in the coming days or weeks we will be able to reach an agreement."

*** House Democrats plan to do away with the Holman Rule as part of the rules package they hope to pass when they take over the majority. The Holman Rule, an obscure 19th century legislative provision that allowed rank-and-file members of the House to offer amendments to make specific appropriations cuts, was revived by House Republicans in 2017 and extended in 2018. While the Holman Rule was not successfully invoked during the 115th Congress, its revival drew ire from Democrats and federal employee unions because one of its impacts could be to zero out funding for specific federal jobs or offices.

*** The new House rules package also includes a new name for a familiar body -- the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is getting renamed as the Committee on Oversight and Reform. "I am pleased that the House of Representatives will be changing the name of our Committee to better reflect our true jurisdiction, which covers both government and the private sector," said incoming chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)

*** Additionally, legislative tech watchers will notice a new committee on the Hill if the House rules package goes through. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress is being formed to develop plans on making Congress more efficient through the use of technology and innovation as well as to improve staffing, procurement, pay and benefits. At the end of the first year of the new Congress, the committee is charged with producing a final report that includes policy recommendations.