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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

A Shutdown-Era Visit to Park Service Ops at Trump’s D.C. Hotel

Though the partial government shutdown has idled many National Park Service operations, a notable exception in the nation’s capital is the historically protected Old Post Office tower on Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

That tourist destination showcasing a vintage clock and spectacular 12th-floor views shares a building under a government lease to the Trump International Hotel, which opened after renovations in September 2016 and has been the subject of lawsuits over alleged presidential conflicts of interest.

So after the lapse in appropriations hit at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21, confusion ensued.

The self-guided tours with elevator access supervised by Park Service rangers came to a halt for a week. But they resumed on Saturday Dec. 29, as confirmed by Mike Litterst, chief spokesman and acting chief of public affairs for the Park Service’s National Capital Region.

“The National Park Service staffs the tour under an interagency agreement with the General Services Administration, which owns the building and provides funding for the NPS personnel,” he told Government Executive on Monday. Operational details, including dates of operation, are established by GSA.”

On Jan. 4, GSA—which has long come under fire by ethics critics for approving the Trump Organization’s plan...

AFGE Seeks to Correct the Record after Member Union Endorses Shutdown

The nation’s largest federal employee labor union seemed to push back on statements in support of the partial government shutdown made Thursday by officials from one of its member unions in a press conference with President Trump.

Leaders of the National Border Patrol Council said Thursday a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is an “absolute necessity” for Border Patrol agents, and said they supported Trump’s decision last month to reject a stop-gap funding bill and trigger a partial government shutdown.

“We are all affected by the shutdown,” said council vice president Art del Cueto. “We have skin in the game.”

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The American Federation of Government Employees took time on Friday to push back on the member union’s statements. AFGE has strongly supported every congressional effort to fund the government since last month.

In a statement to Government Executive, AFGE National President J. David Cox dismissed Trump’s press conference as an instance of “divide and conquer tactics.”

“The president’s ‘news conference’ yesterday is no more than a stunt to distract everyone away from the matter at hand: getting the...

Feds Share Their #ShutdownStories on Twitter

The partial government shutdown that began after funding ran out on midnight Friday is affecting hundreds of thousands of feds in the middle of the winter holiday season. Congress is not set to return to negotiations until Thursday, so many feds took to Twitter to share the stories of their lives during the shutdown over Christmas.

Using the hashtag #shutdownstories, Twitter users—many of them feds—wrote about how the partial shutdown affected their lives. The trending hashtag appears to have been started by @TeaPainUSA, a "humorous" Twitter user with #resistance in his or her bio on the social media network and a username that is both a pun on a rapper and references the Tea Party movement of the earlier part of this decade. @TeaPainUSA, asked for replies with the hashtag in a Sunday night tweet.

Some users voiced their frustrations with Washington, while others lamented their dire financial circumstances created by the shutdown. (The Office of Management and Budget noted earlier that paychecks scheduled to...

Former USDA Officials Lobby to Block Agriculture’s Plans to Relocate Research Offices

The holiday season toward the end of a Congress is a difficult time to exercise one’s constitutional right to petition the government.

Ever since the Agriculture Department unveiled its plan last August to move two key research units outside the Washington, D.C.,  “bubble,” many employees, former employees and outside stakeholders have expressed puzzlement.

Secretary Sonny Perdue cited cost savings and rural recruitment advantages to justify his plan to solicit bids from localities to be the new home to some 700 employees of USDA’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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But dozens of science and research organizations have sought to block the planned move they see as poorly thought-out, that is being done outside the normal office relocation procedures run by the General Services Administration, and that could drain talent and possibly politicize research without saving money.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, three highly credentialed opponents of Agriculture’s plan were shepherded to a dozen or more congressional offices by a strategist from the American Statistical Association to make their case that lawmakers should block the move...

TSA Is Looking For a Few Good Dogs

It's the holiday travel season and that means a lot of extra work for some. Just ask the dogs employed by the Transportation Security Administration at airports around the United States. According to a new post in the Federal Register, TSA wants to recruit more canines to sniff your luggage.

According to the announcement, TSA is looking for "explosives detection canine teams and canine team providers" to register with the agency. But, not just any backyard breeder or trainer can become a supplier to TSA. To become a Certified Cargo Screening Facility-Canine (CCSF-K9) operator, providers would have to submit documentation, including:

  • Information on the company's corporate affiliation, corporate physical location, canine field locations, and information on certifications.
  • SSI acknowledgement, training, and non-disclosure agreement.
  • Letter of intent and affidavit signed by relevant principal(s).
  • Legal documentation describing the corporation, ID verification, and work authorization for specific individuals.

Employees of any firm selected would also have to complete background checks and training.