Administration recognizes quality of work depends on quality of workforce

Wednesday - 9/19/2012, 3:26am EDT

By Lisa Wolfe
Program Director
Federal News Radio

In part 3 of Federal News Radio's special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years, we focus on seven of the administration's most important workforce initiatives. We rated four as effective (green), one as ineffective (red) and two as more progress needed (yellow). View the details of each initiative through our interactive dashboard.

WORKFORCE
Security Clearances
Hiring Reform
Telework
DoD Cyber Workforce
  Retirement
SES Reform
  Support of Federal Employees

More workforce links


Buyout Guide tracking agency early-outs

Pay and Benefits Tracker compilation of bills that could federal compensation

The hard work to accomplish President Barack Obama's executive order intending to make the government more efficient, effective and accountable was given to the entire federal workforce.

They were asked to roll up their sleeves, lean in and get to it. Achievements in reducing backlogs in security clearances, attracting and keeping the best and brightest as civil servants and developing a trained cyber workforce are fruits of that labor.

In part 3 of Federal News Radio's special report, The Obama Impact: Evaluating the Last Four Years, we focus on the direction the administration has given to the federal workforce.

Support For Federal Employees

Sometimes it's not the words you choose, but the actions you take to support those words. In November 2010, President Obama called federal workers "patriots who love their country."

Federal News Radio's Ruben Gomez reports on how unions rate the administration on its support of federal employees (article)

Then Office of Management and Budget deputy director for management Jeff Zients said, "Federal employees are hardworking and dedicated and essential in delivering services essential to the American people." Both comments came after the President announced a two-year pay freeze to all civilian employees.

The combination punch of a pay freeze and an increase in retirement contributions had a dramatic effect on the morale of the federal workforce. It took a nose dive.

The administration remained silent during the loud and ongoing debate on federal versus private-sector pay and during the numerous calls by Congress to leverage federal pay and benefits in the name of deficit reduction.

The impact from the administration's decisions left federal employees feeling out in the cold and leaving us to rate the President's support of federal employees ineffective.

Retirement

David Snell, director of benefit services, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, on the retirement backlog (interview)

At one point, a retired civil servant waited, on average, five months before they received their first annuity payment. Today, the Office of Personnel Management estimates by September 2013, it will have eliminated the backlog entirely. It would be able to process most new claims in 60 days.

But the growing backlog of retirement claims and the extended wait faced by retirees for full benefits has long plagued the agency. In late 2011, OPM Director John Berry announced he would bring in an expert to help with the backlog and named former Federal Aviation Administration Chief Information Officer David Bowen as OPM's new chief technology officer.

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