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9:23 pm, October 25, 2014

Jack Moore Reports

Jack Moore is a web editor and general assignment reporter for Federal News Radio.

Latest postal reform bill includes USPS-only health plan

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee debated an updated version of postal reform legislation Wednesday that would allow the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service to restructure its health benefits program. Included in the revised postal reform bill from Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is a proposal that would create a new postal-only health plan within the broader Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP).

Wednesday - 01/29/2014, 10:48am EST

HealthCare.gov drags down satisfaction with federal services

For the first time since 2010, citizen satisfaction with federal government services dropped last year, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The average overall citizen satisfaction with the government's services fell 3.4 percent in 2013 to a score of 66.1 points (on a 100-point scale). Much of the decline is attributable to a "deterioration in satisfaction" with federal websites, which users found "more difficult to navigate, less reliable, and the information provided less useful" than in years past, according to the report.

Tuesday - 01/28/2014, 04:26pm EST

OPM offers agencies helping hand in perking up employee morale

Fueled by budget cuts and pay freezes, federal employee satisfaction and engagement across the government plunged last year, according to the Office of Personnel Management's annual Employee Viewpoint Survey. Now, OPM says it's here to help agencies turn around those sagging satisfaction scores.

Tuesday - 01/28/2014, 12:09pm EST

TSP loans, hardship withdrawals hit 10-year high last year

More Thrift Savings Plan participants withdrew money from their accounts early in 2013 than in any other year over the past decade. The board processed a total of 291,000 loans and about 138,000 hardship withdrawals last year, according to statistics presented at the board's monthly meeting Monday. More than 14,000 of the hardship withdrawals taken last year came during the month of October, when partisan gridlock led to a 16-day government shutdown and financial uncertainty and delayed paychecks for thousands of federal employees.

Monday - 01/27/2014, 03:24pm EST
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GSA axes 2014 expo for second year

GSA is axing its annual Expo conference, citing the current fiscal climate. It's the second year in a row the agency's signature conference has been called off. Meanwhile, GSA is also phasing out its traditional SmartPay training conference in favor of a virtual forum, which will be held in the spring or summer of this year.

Friday - 01/24/2014, 02:50pm EST

Background check firm in hot water for 'flushing' records

The Justice Department has accused the company that performed background investigations of both National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis of defrauding the government, making false statements and breach of contract. DoJ's civil complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alabama alleges the company, which is the government's largest contractor for background-investigation services, submitted at least 665,000 background investigations to the Office of Personnel Management that hadn't been properly reviewed.

Thursday - 01/23/2014, 01:29pm EST

NWS, union spar over agency vacancies

The National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) says the agency blamed lack of funds when it implemented a hiring freeze last March. But the union says NWS budget documents posted to its website show the agency actually ended fiscal 2013 with $125 million in unspent funds. NWS officials dispute the union's contentions that they agency left money on the table. The union's concerns over agency vacancies were the focus of recent arbitration hearings.

Wednesday - 01/22/2014, 04:04pm EST
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Senate bill would give GPO new name

New bipartisan legislation is aiming to rebrand the 153-year-old Government Printing Office. But that doesn't mean you'll stop seeing the GPO initials stamped on government documents any time soon. The bill, introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) last week, would retain GPO's familiar initials, but change the official name of the agency to the Government Publishing Office.

Wednesday - 01/22/2014, 10:35am EST

USPS falling behind in upkeep of postal facilities, auditors say

The U.S. Postal Service's financial woes are forcing the agency to put off vital maintenance and repair work of facilities across the country, according to a recent inspector general report. Between 2009 and 2012, the Postal Service's budget for capital improvements and facility repairs fell by $382 million, and some 19,000 planned repairs were left uncompleted.

Tuesday - 01/21/2014, 04:03pm EST

Fed buildings to get much-needed upgrades thanks to budget boost

The General Services Administration says it will finally be able to begin digging out of a backlog of deferred maintenance of federal buildings thanks to a boost in funding from the recently passed bipartisan spending bill. The spending bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week, authorizes GSA to spend about $9.3 billion from the Federal Buildings Fund.

Tuesday - 01/21/2014, 01:00pm EST

Federal scientists crying foul over DATA Act's conference restrictions

A group of federal scientists is concerned that proposed restrictions on federal employees attending conferences could put scientific research behind the curve. The Assembly of Scientists wrote to the two top senators on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee last week, arguing that the Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act would likely lead to a "decline in the productivity, creativity, morale, recruitment and retention" of many of the government's top scientists.

Monday - 01/20/2014, 03:27pm EST
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2014 funding: Agency-by-agency breakdown of spending bill

With the unveiling of the bipartisan spending bill this week, federal agencies are getting a clearer picture of how much funding they'll get for the rest of the fiscal year. Track which agencies will see sizable increases or which will be getting the short end of the stick.

Thursday - 01/16/2014, 09:34am EST

Agency watchdogs seek more independence, budget boost

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) says agency inspectors general are increasingly facing obstacles in their efforts to uncover waste and misconduct. The top watchdogs at both the Justice Department and the Peace Corps told lawmakers they've faced resistance from their agencies at times in turning over records in recent years. Lawmakers also expressed concern about the impact of across-the-board budget cuts on the operations agency IG operations.

Wednesday - 01/15/2014, 05:21pm EST

House votes to beef up OPM inspector general funding

The House gave a boost to the Office of Personnel Management inspector general's office Tuesday, voting to provide the agency's auditors with access to new funding to conduct investigations. In a unanimous vote, the House approved the bipartisan OPM IG Act, introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass). The Senate approved a nearly identical measure, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), in October.

Tuesday - 01/14/2014, 05:49pm EST

How the spending bill affects the federal workforce

After a month of negotiations, the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees unveiled a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill this week funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2014. From federal pay and benefits to a further decline in the Internal Revenue Service's budget, read about three key takeaways of the bill.

Tuesday - 01/14/2014, 02:43pm EST

SES group: White House keeping mum on award alternatives

Last spring, as across-the-board budget cuts roiled through agencies across government, the White House decided to cancel the monetary portion of the Presidential Rank Awards, which granted recipients as much as 35 percent of their salary in a one-time bonus. But the White House maintained it was "focused on finding means to acknowledge excellence in non-monetary ways." The Senior Executives Association (SEA), in a statement released Monday said it still hasn't heard from President Barack Obama on those alternatives.

Monday - 01/13/2014, 03:27pm EST
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House plans 3-day CR to extend deadline for budget talks

Republican leaders plan to pass a short-term funding bill this week to extend by three days the deadline for wrapping up a massive, $1 trillion-plus catch-all spending bill covering funding for the rest of the year. The short-term measure would give lawmakers until midnight next Saturday to pass the larger funding bill. The current stopgap funding bill expires at midnight on Wednesday.

Monday - 01/13/2014, 08:46am EST

Report: Budget, training cuts put IRS 'at risk'

In an annual report to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, wrote that the IRS faces "unstable and chronic underfunding that puts at risk the IRS's ability to meet its current responsibilities, much less articulate and achieve the necessary transformation to an effective, modern tax agency."

Friday - 01/10/2014, 04:40pm EST

Officials cite progress in labor-management forums

Federal-employee unions say they're having more of a voice in the agency decisionmaking process, thanks to a four-year-old directive from President Barack Obama calling for greater collaboration between labor groups and agency leadership. Despite a slow start last year, the creation of partnerships between federal-employee unions and agency leadership known as labor-management forums ramped up throughout the course of 2013, according to Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

Wednesday - 01/08/2014, 05:29pm EST

DHS nominee seeks 'to hit the reset button' in embattled IG office

In his nomination hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, John Roth, currently the director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations, said he aimed to turn around employee morale in the IG's office, which has been rocked by allegations of misconduct by the former acting head of the office. Roth, whose nomination has garnered near-universal support from both Republican and Democratic members of the committee.

Wednesday - 01/08/2014, 03:02pm EST
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