Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Building the Hybrid Cloud
- Connected Government: How to Build and Procure Network Services for the Future
- Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation: Discussion of Progress and Next Steps
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- The Future of Government Data Centers
- The Future of IT: How CIOs Can Enable the Service-Oriented Enterprise
- The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Transformation
- Maximizing ROI Through Data Center Consolidation
- Mitigating Insider Threats in Virtual & Cloud Environments
- Modern Mission Critical Series
- Moving to the Cloud. What's the best approach for me
- Navigating Tough Choices in Government Cloud Computing
- The New Generation of Database
- Satellite Communications: Acquiring SATCOM in Tight Times
- Targeting Advanced Threats: Proven Methods from Detection through Remediation
- Transformative Technology: Desktop Virtualization in Government
- The Truth About IT Opex and Software Defined Networking
- Value of Health IT
- Air Traffic Management Transformation Report
- Cloud First Report
- General Dynamics IT Enterprise Center
- Gov Cloud Minute
- Government in Technology Series
- Homeland Security Cybersecurity Market Report
- National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
- Technology Insights
- The Cyber Security Report
- The Next Generation Cyber Security Experts
Shows & Panels
A last-minute and very real pension threat
Tuesday - 12/4/2012, 2:00am EST
Like people in the popular TV series, Doomsday Preppers, individual feds and groups representing them have been stockpiling political ammo to fend off a batch of worst-case scenario cuts in the federal benefits package.
For many, if not most employees, the sum of all fears is focused on a decades-old plan that would base their retirement benefits on length of service and their highest five-year average salary. Currently, those benefits are based on time served and the employees' highest three-year average salary. The high-three to high-five changes come up almost every year but have never come close to becoming law.
For unions and organizations that represent workers and retirees, the two most dangerous threats to benefits come from two under the radar proposals:
- A voucher system for the federal health benefits program. Under it, the government (which now pays an average of 70 percent of the premium of workers and retirees) would give them a fixed amount to buy their own insurance. Unless changed, that amount would remain the same year after year despite the fact that premiums go up every year. In time, critics say, feds could wind up paying half or more of their ever-growing premiums.
- Pro-fed experts are even more concerned about the adoption of the so-called chained CPI, which would produce huge future savings in Social Security and Civil Service retirement outlays. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the consumer-price index by measuring the cost of goods and services and translating it into a percentage that determines if retirees get January cost-of-living adjustments. Under the current plan, Social Security and civil-service retirement benefits will rise 1.7 percent in January.
A number of prominent groups, blue-ribbon commissions and congressional panels have endorsed the chained CPI concept. It is estimated the system would reduce future COLAs by about 0.3 percent. Over time, that would take a major bite out of inflation-related retirement benefits that individuals would never see, but would definitely feel — especially in times of high inflation.
Opponents of the chained CPI got a jolt last week when The Washington Post editorially endorsed the chained CPI. It laid out a case that said it would be a fairer system on which to base future COLAs for 62 million Social Security recipients and federal and postal retirees. The Post has major clout on Capitol Hill, especially on the Democratic side, which, more often than not, has opposed any change in the CPI.
The Federal-Postal Coalition, representing more than 20 pro-worker groups, immediately reacted. The Post ran a piece written by NARFE President Joseph Beaudoin defending the current system and pointing out that feds — through two-plus years of pay freezes — have done their share toward deficit reduction.
Coalition leaders fear that in the frantic next few weeks — when both sides are scrambling to avoid sequestration — proposals like the chained COLA might become part of any compromise cobbled together by panicky politicians.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
Mustache implants are an increasingly popular procedure for Turkish men, according to UPI Odd News. Turkish plastic surgeons say the follicular implants are desired by men "wanting to project virility, wisdom and maturity."
MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
Women say discrimination still part of Forest Service culture
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is tackling a history of discrimination with more training and accountability as part of a cultural transformation program. But some current and former USDA employees say they're not seeing cultural changes, and sex discrimination is still prominent within the agency. Now female Forest Service employees are trying to file a class action EEOC complaint for unfair treatment.
Senate unanimously passes Hatch Act update
The Senate passed the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 (S. 2170) by unanimous voice vote Friday, Nov. 30. Under the bill passed by the Senate, most state and local employees would be able to run for partisan elective office. In addition, employees of the District of Columbia's executive branch would now face the same Hatch Act restrictions as employees in state and local governments. The bill still needs to pass the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.