• Shutdown affects U.S. military religious services

    A shortage of active duty Catholic chaplains has led the government to hire contract priests to offer religious services in the military. As a result of the government partial shutdown, the military has furloughed as many as fifty Catholic chaplains. They were not allowed to celebrate weekend Mass, and some were told that they would not be allowed to volunteer their services. Catholic organizations said they were outraged by the decision, which some saw as an expression of what they described as the administration’s animus toward Catholics. Observers note, however, that the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), which codifies the Constitutional requirement that the executive not draw money from the treasury unless authorized by Congress, specifically restricts acceptance of voluntary services or personal services beyond authorized levels “except for emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

  • How DHS copes with shutdown requirements

    In anticipation of a government shutdown, DHS, on 27 September 2013, has issued a 42-page document, titled “Procedures Relating to a Federal Funding Hiatus,” which details which of DHS functions and activities would cease during what the document calls a “federal funding hiatus,” and which functions and activities are exempt, or “excepted,” and would thus continue. In general, mission-essential and mission-critical functions of DHS will continue during the funding hiatus. DHS defines essential functions as “a limited set of mission-essential or mission-critical functions that must be performed to provide continuity of operations.” DHS defines mission-critical personnel as “those employees occupying positions and performing functions that must be maintained under all circumstances to ensure the safety and security of the nation and its citizens.”

  • Immigration court cases in limbo during government shutdown

    The shutdown of the U.S. federal government has left hundreds of thousands of immigration cases in limbo. Immigration lawyers note that it is likely that political asylum cases and deportation cases would be deemed non-urgent, and could thus be put off for months if the government shutdown continues. “Situations change. Memories fade. Evidence gets lost,” one immigration lawyer said. “If you have a court date now, and it is kicked off the calendar, it could be a matter of life and death.”

  • Government shutdown stymies U.S. science agencies

    A U.S. Government furloughs affecting virtually all National Science Foundation (NSF) employees and three-fourths of those at the National Institutes of Health could impact American competitiveness, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) warned. “If the government shutdown continues for a week or more, it is going to make the United States less desirable as an international research collaborator,” said an AAAS representative. “When funding is no longer reliable, many of our research partners may be unable to continue collaborating with us. That could eventually have longer-term impacts on American innovation and competitiveness.”

  • A state of disrepair: Thousands of U.S. aging bridges risk collapse

    Of the 607,380 bridges listed in the recent U.S. National Bridge Inventory, 65,605 bridges are classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical,” with 7,795 of those bridges designated as both structurally deficient and fracture critical. Experts say this indicates significant disrepair and a risk of collapse. These 7,795 structurally deficient, fracture critical bridges carry more than twenty-nine million drivers a day.

  • Serious IT consequences if shutdown lasts

    The shutdown of the federal government, if it lasts no more than a week or so, will not seriously damage government IT operations, experts and industry insiders say. A longer shutdown, which would lead to extended furloughs for non-essential employees, will have more serious effects, as it will further depress the federal technology workforce and will deter top graduates from applying for government jobs. If Congress refuses to allow payment to furloughed employees for the time they were idled, the effect will be even more pernicious, these experts said.

  • More resources allocated to border security without a clear measure of effectiveness

    Billions of tax-payer dollars have been spent to secure the U.S-Mexico border from illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Yet, according to two federal oversight agencies, it is not clear whether the investments made are providing a favorable return. More importantly, there is no mechanism to measure the effectiveness or success of the investments made to secure the border.

  • Cybersecurity funding increasing despite sequestration

    Sequestration-mandated cuts continue, but more money will continue to go to cybersecurity, and job opportunities in the field will continue to grow. The Defense Department intends to spend $23 billion on cybersecurity over the next five years, and that it is seeking more than $4.6 billion for cybersecurity in 2014 fiscal year, an 18 percent jump from the 2013 fiscal year.

  • Consolidation expected among large cybersecurrity contractors

    Europe’s largest defense company, BAE Systems, says the number of military contractors selling data protection services to governments will decrease as clients demands for ever-more-sophisticated products  increase.

  • U.S. defense industry fights budget cuts

    The U.S. defense industry has been fighting budget cuts for two years now. The industry’s effort to prevent sequestration from taking effect has failed, but there is optimism in defense circles that this time the effort may well succeed.

  • Senate immigration bill could yield billions in federal contracts

    The Senate immigration bill will see billions of dollars go to defense and technology companies as a result of billions of dollars in new and expanded federal contracts aiming to bolster border security.

  • Questions raised about “border security surge”

    This week the Senate will decide whether to approve the immigration legislation drafted by a bi-partisan group of senators. A border provision in the bill calls for adding $30 billion for additional security measures along the southern border, including hiring 20,000 more border security agents. Not everyone is convinced the boost in funding will lead to significant decline in illegal border crossers.

  • Nevada Sheriff wants DHS to do more before, rather than after, attacks

    Clark County, Nevada, Sheriff Doug Gillespie says DHS needs to make a bigger effort to help local law enforcement work on preventing terrorist attacks, instead of responding to them after the fact. Gillespie used the Boston Marathon bombings as an example of the importance of prevention efforts, noting that the response to the attacks was handled well, but that people were already killed and injured.

  • DHS wants to upgrade BioWatch, but admits the system addresses a receding threat

    The BioWatch program has cost more than $1 billion so far, and DHS wants billions more for upgrading it. The system is designed to detect large-scale bioterror attacks, but DHS, in its revised assessment of bioterror threats to the United States, said that rather than a massive release of germs in an American city – the kind of attack BioWatch sensors were aimed to detect – the more likely bioterror attacks are small-scale releases of anthrax or other pathogens. Such small-scale attack would likely not be picked up by BioWatch. Lawmakers want to know whether investing billions more in the system is worthwhile.

  • Senate immigration bill would reduce deficits by $200 billion over decade: CBO

    A long-awaited report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office offered a major victory for the bipartisan Gang of Eight senators and the draft immigration overhaul they drafted: the detailed report finds that the immigration bill now being debated in the Senate would reduce federal deficits by nearly $200 billion over the next decade even with higher spending on border security and government benefits. The report estimates that over the following decade — from 2024 to 2033 — the deficit reduction would be even greater, reaching an estimated $700 billion.