Congress returns from summer recess this week with a short time to handle how they want FY’16 to start and a full list of oversight issues to highlight Administration programs they feel are on the wrong track.  Here are three to watch: 

1.  Expect a series of Continuing Resolutions and a Possible Shut-Down:  FY’16 will open under a Continuing Resolution. The only question is whether there will be a series of short CR’s to keep the specter of a shut down in play to get concessions on a variety of issues, one being Planned Parenthood.  Eventually, a month(s) long CR will pass, but it will be some time before appropriations measures are implemented.  We put the chances of a shut-down at under 25% despite the rhetoric.

2.  Oversight hearings will highlight contract issues and possibly problems.  Hearings are planned on the data-breach issue and may well drag into them discussions of the contracts put in place designed to protect people whose information was hacked.  Expect Congress to push agencies for more protections.  Other issues include contractor oversight of Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server, cyber-breaches and a possible hearing on the Ability One program.

3.  Congress will be seeking to score political points, not getting an “A” in government management.  This is the essential theme of Congressional work through the 2016 elections, but it will be particularly acute now at fiscal year-end.  If you have an issue you want your representatives to focus on, frame it accordingly.  Otherwise, realize that Congress’ agenda is likely very different from yours and the federal customers with whom you work.