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Jack Moore is a web editor and general assignment reporter for Federal News Radio.
The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced Feb. 19 it has inked a deal with the Cleveland-based Wahconah Group to launch an all-weather line of clothing. The clothing and accessories, to be branded with USPS trademarks, will be available at department and specialty stores beginning in 2014.
Talk of federal-employee furloughs has intensified as the clock winds down to March 1 -- the date automatic, across-the-board spending cuts are set to kick in. But even if agencies are forced to go the furlough route, they will have to ensure the workforce reductions are implemented fairly or face a series of potential pitfalls, said John Mahoney, chairman of Tully Rinckey's labor and employment practice group, in an interview on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.
Joe Kull, a director in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Washington Federal Practice and former deputy comptroller for federal financial management in the Office of Management and Budget, and Thad Juszczak, a director at Grant Thornton and former federal budget official, shared their perspectives on sequestration planning on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.
James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, tells Federal News Radio he's concerned about the effects of sequestration on the intelligence community.
Obama administration officials are painting a bleak picture of how federal agencies would fare under sequestration, the automatic budget cuts slated to go into effect in two weeks. The Senate Appropriations Committee heard testimony from several Obama administration officials about the consequences of the cuts, which are set to take effect March 1. However, Danny Werfel, controller of the Office of Management and Budget, emphasized to the committee that employee furloughs would not be immediate.
The House Rules Committee voted to fast-track legislation extending the pay freeze for federal employees through the end of the fiscal year. Federal workers are now slated to get a 0.5 percent pay increase in March when a stopgap continuing resolution expired. However, the measure approved by the House Rules Committee, introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), would block that increase.
The U.S. Postal Service's worsening financial situation led Postmaster General Pat Donahoe to announce last week the agency would end Saturday mail delivery beginning in August. But lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee were divided over Donahoe's announcement. The postmaster general told the committee during a hearing Wednesday the decision was necessary to save $2 billion a year and to begin shoring up the service's funding shortfalls.
As sequestration draws nearer, contractor groups have pointed to alarming studies that show the 9 percent in across-the-board Defense cuts would throw at least 1 million people out of work and potentially cripple the defense and aerospace industries. But in a new report, the Center for International Policy, a nonprofit group which advocates reducing military spending, presented evidence that far fewer defense-sector jobs would be lost than industry has claimed and that defense companies would likely be able to absorb the defense cuts.
In an analysis prepared for the American Federation of Government Employees, contracting expert Charles Tiefer said that agency managers have a number of tools at their disposal to legally scale back service-contract spending and that doing so would be preferable to federal furloughs.
Karen Mills, the head of the Small Business Administration, is resigning. Mills says she will stay on until a successor is confirmed.
President Barack Obama will recommend a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees in his fiscal 2014 budget request, according to federal-employee unions. The pay increase will apply to both civilian federal workers and military members. The White House is expected to release its full budget request next month.
As the Internal Revenue Service prepares to enter tax season full-bore, the agency is faced with a tightened budget, a shrinking workforce and an ever-more complex and increasing workload. That combination, along with leadership changes at the top of agency, threatens to upend the gains IRS has made over the past few years to better manage its workforce, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an agency watchdog.
For the second year in a row, the number of citizens who report being satisfied with government services rose, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The higher governmentwide score was driven in large part by the increasing satisfaction with government websites, which rounded out the year at near all-time highs.
Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have proposed an alternative to the automatic budget cuts set to go into effect next month that includes reducing the size of the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition.
Federal employees retired in droves last month, with more than 22,000 filing retirement claims with the Office of Personnel Management -- about about 1,000 more than OPM expected. The agency processed 12,527 retirement claims last month, also beating its projections.
Civilian federal agencies are expected to begin telling their employees how automatic budget cuts set to go into effect in March will affect them, according to federal-employee unions who were briefed by Obama administration officials. The Office of Management and Budget gave agency heads the go-ahead to begin communicating to their employees as early as Tuesday about the possible effects of sequestration, including employee furloughs.
With the House postponing a vote on extending the federal pay freeze, feds are back on course to get a slight pay increase in March — for the first time in two years. But Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an expert on public-sector compensation, says that the pressing budget issues the government faces means the issue of federal pay probably isn't going anywhere.
Federal chief information officers remain concerned with securing their agencies' networks and systems. Cybersecurity ranked first in a list of CIOs priorities in an exclusive survey conducted by Federal News Radio. Also among CIOs' top priorities were moving back-office or commodity IT systems to the cloud and using IT to ease the budget pressures facing agencies. Roger Baker, assistant secretary for information and technology and chief information officer of the Veterans Affairs Department discussed the survey results on In Depth with Francis Rose.
The Thrift Savings Plan began 2013 almost exactly how it left off last year. All the regular funds — with the exception of the F Fund, made up of government bonds — and all the target-date Lifecyle Funds posted in positive territory for the month of January.
The Small Business Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees inked a new three-year deal Thursday, extending a number of flexible workplace policies to more than 2,000 federal employees. Among the new benefits are streamlined telework privileges and the ability for employees to opt in to a four-day work-week with expanded hours each day.