Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Connected Government
- Consolidating Mission-critical Systems
- Constituent Servicing
- Continuous Monitoring: Tools and Techniques for Trustworthy Government IT
- The Data Privacy Imperative: Safeguarding Sensitive Data
- Eliminating the Pitfalls: Steps to Virtualization in Government
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- Government Cloud Brokerage: Who, What, When, Where, Why?
- Government Mobility
- Mission-critical Apps in the Cloud
- Mobile Device Management
- The Modern Federal Threat Landscape
- The Path from Legacy Systems
- Understanding the Intersection of Customer Service and Security in the Cloud
Shows & Panels
Jack Moore is a web editor and general assignment reporter for Federal News Radio.
Even as mystery surrounds the work of the House-Senate budget committee negotiating over fiscal 2014 funding levels and possible alternatives to devastating across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, there's consensus emerging about some of the potential bargaining chips the committee is likely to use. That includes requiring federal workers to contribute more of their salaries toward their pensions.
A string of recent budget crises, doomsday deadlines and last-minute deals has complicated agencies' longer-term budget planning. However, most agency budget professionals say they're plowing through the uncertainty and will be able to meet spending targets for fiscal 2015 mandated by the Office of Management and Budget, according to a recent survey by Grant Thornton and the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis.
Federal employees wanting to schedule "use it or lose it" annual leave only have a few days left before their excess vacation days are forfeited. The deadline to schedule excess annual leave is this Saturday, Nov. 30, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta reiterated in a Nov. 26 memo to agency chief human capital officers. The leave must be used by Jan. 11, the end of the leave year.
If Congress fails to act by the end of the year, a tax subsidy for commuters who use mass transit is set to drop from a maximum of $245 a month to $130. At the same time, fringe benefits for parking are set to rise to $250 a month starting in January. Two stand-alone measures in the House and Senate would restore parity between the parking and mass-transit subsidies
During the 16-day government shutdown last month, more than 14,000 Thrift Savings Plan participants withdrew money from their accounts, the highest number of hardship withdrawals in a single month ever. This may have helped participants weather the financial uncertainty of the shutdown. But, under TSP rules, it also means they'll be unable to contribute to their 401(k)-style retirement accounts for the next six months. Now, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the TSP, is concerned that not all those participants will take the initiative to restart their contributions when the penalty period expires next spring.
A new bill would allow federal employees to contribute toward their retirement by investing only in companies deemed socially responsible. The "Federal Employees Responsible Investment Act," introduced this week by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would require the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board to add a "Corporate Responsibility Index" to the existing five investment options available to federal employees.
Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has issued a subpoena for records from the Office of Personnel Management, seeking more details on the agency's process for conducting background investigations. OPM's Federal Investigative Services division, which conducts 90 percent of the federal government's background investigations, has come under intense scrutiny since it was revealed earlier this year that the same contractor -- United States Investigation Services (USIS) -- performed background checks of both National Security agency leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis.
A new bill introduced this week by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) would ensure blue-collar federal employees receive the same scheduled pay increase in January as General Schedule employees. White-collar GS employees are due to get a 1 percent pay raise in January, under a plan announced in August by President Barack Obama, who has authority to set GS pay levels. However, pay raises for wage-grade or hourly employees require separate legislation. With no action by Congress, pay for these employees would remain flat.
Agencies across government are leveraging digital technologies to both embark on new initiatives and enhance existing ones. The growing adoption of mobile devices, cloud computing technologies and wireless capabilities allows agencies to conduct unique outreach efforts and makes the agencies, themselves, more flexible workplaces. Agency technology officials discussed both issues as part of the Federal News Radio special report, A New Era in Technology.
Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to many of the Homeland Security Department's cybersecurity efforts. Doug Maughan, director of DHS' Cybersecurity Division in the department's Science and Technology Directorate, discussed the department's cyber partnerships as part of the Federal News Radio special report, A New Era in Technology.
Congress, as an institution, doesn't appear to have the technological skills and knowledge to ask the right questions when it comes to increasingly complex agency IT programs. The congressionally-chartered Office of Technology Assessment was defunded in the mid-1990s and former staffers say its absence is sorely felt today. Many people say the time is right for a reboot of the OTA. This article is part of the Federal News Radio special report, A New Era in Technology.
For Casey Coleman, CIO of the General Services Administration, IT consolidations have netted big savings and allowed the agency to move in a more strategic direction. Meanwhile, Joe Klimavicz, the CIO of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says wider adoption of shared services can help agencies cut back on operations-and-maintenance IT spending to free up more cash for mission-specific tech initiatives.
The Office of Personnel Management is helping agencies come up with ways to recruit new federal hires from the pipeline of national-service programs, such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. In July, President Barack Obama called for expanding national volunteer opportunities by finding ways to connect the broad network of national and community-service organizations with federal agencies and their missions. As part of that effort, OPM was tasked with coming up with recruiting strategies agencies can use to recruit new hires with past experience in national-service programs.
A new bill introduced by a trio of Republican senators would end the defined benefit portion of FERS coverage for new federal employees hired within six months of the bill's passage. Sponsors of the bill say the Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act would align federal retirement benefits more closely with those earned in the private sector.
A new Congressional Budget Office analysis of proposed deficit-reduction efforts contained half a dozen proposals affecting federal employees, including reducing annual pay raises, requiring federal employees to contribute more toward their pensions and reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition. All told, such proposals would reduce federal outlays or increase revenues by $308 billion, according to CBO estimates.
The troubled HealthCare.gov website has been the subject of at least one attempted but unsuccessful cyber attack, according to one of the of the Homeland Security Department's top cyber officials. Lawmakers at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing said the consolidation of personal information and the glitch-prone website are cause for concern.
Just a week into the job and confronted with signs of the sagging morale of the federal workforce, new Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta said she wants to take steps to make sure federal employees feel engaged in their work. Tuesday's annual public meeting of the Chief Human Capital Officers Council focused on ways to improve employee engagement and morale. OPM released its annual Employee Viewpoint Survey last week, revealing continuing declines in federal employees' overall job satisfaction and a sharp drop in satisfaction with their pay.
The oldest federal employees are also the most satisfied and engaged workers, according to the Office of Personnel Management's annual Employee Viewpoint Survey. According to the survey, the pre-Baby Boom generation of federal workers is more likely to believe they are recognized for their service, believe they have sufficient resources and are satisfied with training opportunities. Knowing how satisfaction and engagement shake out across age barriers can be helpful as managers attempt to build back up the battered morale of the federal workforce, OPM said.
Open Season, the time when federal employees and retirees can comb through more than 250 plans of the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program and make changes, kicks off today and runs through Dec. 9. Find some key pieces of information for the current Open Season and links to more information. Plus, benefits experts offer their three most important tips for Open Season.
Frustrations over federal pay, budget cuts and uncertain agency funding have weakened federal-employee satisfaction, according to the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint survey released Friday. For the second year in a row, overall employee satisfaction scores fell, dipping below 60 percent this year. Meanwhile, less than half of federal employees said they believe they have sufficient resources — such as material, staff and funding — to do their jobs effectively.