Same Office, Very Different Workplace

Thursday - 5/14/2009, 4:00am EDT

Editor's Note: Click here to listen to Mike's interview with OPM Director John Berry on yesterday's Your Turn program.

The location of the building and the color of your office walls may not change much over the next couple of years. But you are going to be working in a very different place, in many respects, over the rest of your federal career. We know this because...

OPM Director John Berry and Mike Causey in the Your Turn studios, May 13, 2009.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry gave us a free-wheeling, one hour interview yesterday here on federalnewsradio.com. He touched on everything from getting new people into government to processing retirements quicker and better.

Berry also touched on the Long Term Care insurance program and the upcoming premium increases, as well as the outlook for extending FEHBP health insurance coverage to dependent children past the current age 22 cutoff.

Highlights:

Labor-Relations Changes:
The new OPM Director said he wants to reverse what he said was an adversarial relationship between labor and management that grew up during the Bush administration. Starting this summer, he said, there will be a new seminar at OPM Leadership Development Centers where federal officials and union leaders "can start this collaborative process."

Long Term Care Insurance:
Berry said the coming premium increases for some workers and retirees are "consistent with increases" in the industry. He said current enrollees can, in many cases, dodge or minimize increases by adjusting their current benefits. He said they will each receive "personalized choices" this fall from the John Hancock insurance company and that any new increases won't take place until January, 2010.

Dependent Health Insurance:
The OPM Director said there is "current interest in Congress" to raise the age for dependent care coverage under FEHBP to 25, from the current age 22 cutoff. He noted that parents can apply for temporary coverage for 36 months and that one company in the federal program now offers affinity coverage to age 27. Details at: http://www.sambaplans.com/DHBP.shtml

New Blood:
Berry said the government will be ready to handle a surge of new hires which could increase the number of feds by 100,000 over the next year. He said this will be done by streamlining some procedures, improved training of hiring officers and improved background check procedures. He also said there will be changes designed to make working for the government more attractive for people who want to get on the fast-track and who like the concept of working with teams.

Potential Retirees:
The OPM chief said his agency would update and modernize procedures use to process people out of government to make the retirement process, which generally works pretty well, even better.

If you missed the show, or want to hear it again, it is archived. Check it out by clicking here. There's a lot more in the exclusive interview.

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

According to the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, "Cyber Millennials", those well-educated, tech-savvy individuals aged 25 to 44 with a median income of more than $79,000, are most likely to binge drink.

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com