Feds glad to bid adieu to 2011, but will 2012 be better?

Thursday - 12/22/2011, 5:42pm EST

Federal workers may be glad that 2011 is ending. It's hard to think of something good that happened to them this year.

But, as a governmentwide survey showed, they are weathering the financial and political onslaught with a surprisingly sunny smile. That's a good thing. With a presidential election looming, 2012 may not be much better.

Federal News Radio's Emily Kopp counts down the top federal workforce stories of 2011 as she sees them and makes some predictions fo 2012.

Top 5 federal workforce stories of 2011

1. Will they or won't they make further cuts in feds' paychecks?

Threats of shutdowns, furloughs, extended pay freezes and cuts to benefits become the norm as a bitterly divided Congress seeks to cut the federal deficit.



2. Ailing Postal Service seeks to slash workforce

USPS seeks to cut more than 100,000 workers, but its plan gets a lukewarm response on Capitol Hill. The agency buckled under political pressure and postponed closing post offices until 2012.



3. Federal jobseekers outraged at OPM's handling of USAJobs.gov

The Office of Personnel Management takes control of federal hiring website USAJobs.gov. The site crashes at a time when the White House says "jobs, jobs, jobs" are its top priority.



4. Twenty-one agencies consider buyouts and early outs

For some agencies, it's about saving money. For others, buyouts and early outs free up jobs for fresher faces.



5. Will feds stay put during the next "Snowmaggeddon"?

OPM updates its emergency dismissal policy to prevent gridlock on Washington roads. But will feds actually "shelter in place" or rush home during the next snow emergency?

Top 5 federal workforce predictions of 2012



1. Politicians continue calls to cut pay, programs and agencies-we-can't-remember

With a presidential election at the end of the year, lawmakers will continue to look for ways to cut federal spending, and feds' paychecks and programs will continue to be targets.



2. Agencies seek creative ways to boost employees' skills and morale

Agencies are piloting new employee evaluation systems, orientation programs and other initiatives to make feds happier and more productive in tight times.



3. Retirements put OPM's system in the spotlight

Even if 2012 isn't the year of the "retirement tsunami," the increase in federal retirements will test OPM's antiquated annuity-calculation process. The system has a backlog of 60,000 cases.



4. Agencies strive for progress on hiring goals, even without money

The White House has told agencies to diversify and hire more veterans and disabled people. VA for Vets will go federal; Agencies will look to Pathways, a revamped internship program, over unions' objections.



5. Agencies will collaborate to increase performance without funds.

Look for an expansion of HR University, an online platform that allows agencies to access each others' training programs.