Alice In Wonderland Lite

Thursday - 5/29/2014, 2:00am EDT

Birthday parties without presents are not unusual, especially as the birthday boy or girl ages out. After all, it's the thought — not some computer game or art kit — that counts. On the other hand...

Have you ever been to a relatively big-bucks bonus banquet where the winners get a handshake and a good meal, but no bonus check? If not, stand by for next Thursday's State Department reception honoring the 2013 finalists for the Presidential Rank awards. The White House suspended the awards last year because of budget cuts, sequestrations and the fact that tens of thousands of federal workers were furloughed without pay. The idea of giving five-figure bonuses to top-paid civil servants didn't seem like a good one. At least to the people who make those kinds of calls.

Now the prestigious bonus awards are back on, sans the actual bonuses. The annual awards go to the cream of the crop of the federal Senior Executive Service. SES members earn anywhere from $121,000 to $181,000 per year, and the nonbonuses, had they been paid, could be worth upwards of $60,000 in some cases. Most of the winners were involved in programs and efforts that, documented, saved the taxpayers billions of dollars.

The annual black-tie reception at the State Department is dazzling whether you are a first-timer or a grizzled veteran of Washington functions. Sitting at the table with the award-winners, from astronauts to scientists and administrators, is mind-boggling. And humbling.

A veteran of Washington's government-based social scene said, "The whole thing has an Alice in Wonderland quality about it this year." First the banquet, then the winners, then no bonuses. Because of the timing, some of the award-winners won't know who they are until the day of the banquet itself. That could present logistical problems for out-of-town winners. He also pointed to the official government explanation that agencies "may decide to re-nominate eligible senior executives ... that were nominated in fiscal 2013 since no monetary awards were conferred ... in fiscal 2013 and therefore none of these nominations are subject to rules which prohibit them from receiving the same cash award twice in a five-year period therefore."

So, you get the idea. If you don't get it, run it by somebody who has been in Washington a long time. We know (or pretend to know) these things!

Phased retirement still in the pipeline

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta was the guest yesterday on our Your Turn radio program. She said she hoped to have the phased retirement program regulations ready to roll out in this fiscal year. That's welcome news to people who would like to work part- time and phase-in to retirement. Part of the deal is that they would spend 20 percent of their time training and mentoring. To listen to the full show, click here and to view our webchat with the director, click here.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

The first football game between two high school teams took place on Oct. 12, 1900, between the Wall School of Honey Grove, Texas, and St. Matthew's Grammar School of Dallas. St. Matts won 5-0.

(Source: The Atlantic)


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