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 Intersection: Where Technology Meets Transformation
- Maximizing ROI Through Data Center Consolidation
- 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
Shows & Panels
A single-digit raise? It could have been worse
Friday - 11/1/2013, 2:00am EDT
Federal, military and Social Security retirees will be getting a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment next year. Federal workers are in line for a 1 percent pay raise in January — their first increase in three years.
But given the fact that health premiums have gone up each year — the "average" increase for feds and retirees next year will be 4.4 percent — many people aren't going to break out the champagne.
Still, the two increases are better than the proverbial sharp stick in the eye, and both could have been much lower.
Federal workers haven't had a January pay increase for three years. Many have moved up the pay scale ladder either by getting a promotion or by virtue of having been in their GS grade long enough to qualify for a step increase worth about 3 percent. But for many, they've been paying this year's health premiums at their 2010 pay rate.
Retirees got a 1.7 percent COLA this year, but it was the first inflation catch-up in two years.
While most people prefer times of low inflation, retirees whose benefits are indexed to it, often don't appreciate the low raises because they think the government counts the wrong items in trying to determine the rise or fall in prices.
But there are a growing number of influential critics of the current system who think the COLAs it produces overstate inflation and fail to take into account the buying habits of people.
Both the White House and key congressional leaders have endorsed the idea of replacing the current inflation-measuring yardstick with the so-called "chained CPI." CPI stands for Consumer Price Index, the measure the Labor Department uses to gauge living costs.
Friends and foes of the chained CPI agree it would do the same thing: Shave about 0.2 to 0.3 percent off each future COLA for federal, military and Social Security retirees. Backers say the switch would take into account that people downsize — going from steak to chicken — when prices are up. The same thing happens when health premiums go up more than pay raises. People move to a less expensive plan!
Opponents say the compounding effects of even slightly smaller COLAs each year would, over a lifetime in retirement, dramatically reduce future benefit payments by thousands of dollars for each person.
Given its do-nothing track record this year, there is a good chance the chained CPI proposal will go nowhere this session. But it's out there and, if it were to happen, the year when retirees got a 1.5 percent raise might be considered part of the good old days.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
Compiled by Jack Moore
Dogs have different emotional reactions to fellow dogs based on the direction of their tail-wagging, according to a new study. A wag to the right relaxes dogs, while a wag to the left distresses them, researchers said.
MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
In House-Senate budget
talks, feds fear being familiar target
When House and Senate lawmakers kicked off formal budget negotiations this week for the first time since the government shutdown ended, both Republicans and Democrats said replacing sequestration, the blunt across-the-board budget cuts, with an alternative plan would be a top priority. The sticking point remains how to pay for it. Federal-employee unions and advocacy groups fear federal pay and benefits will once again be on the table.
Senate bill calls for
random background checks for clearance holders
Five senators introduce a bipartisan bill aimed at enhancing how the Office of Personnel Management handles the clearances of federal employees and contractors to access classified information. If enacted, the legislation would require OPM to conduct random, automated reviews twice every five years of public records and databases for information about individuals with security clearances.