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7:23 pm, August 28, 2014

Jack Moore Reports

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

IRS nominee Koskinen pledges to turn around employee morale, pushes for budget increase

John Koskinen, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the embattled Internal Revenue Service, pledged to restore public trust in the agency following the recent uproar over revelations of purported political bias by IRS employees. Speaking before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday morning, Koskinen also said he'd work to turn around the declining employee morale.

Tuesday - 12/10/2013, 02:02pm EST

POLL: How does a DC snow day affect outside-the-Beltway feds?

When the Office of Personnel Management makes the decision to close federal offices in the Washington, D.C. region because of snow, federal employees outside the area often deride inside-the-Beltway feds for their weather wimpiness. But with hundreds of thousands of federal employees spread across the country, Federal News Radio wants to know: Does a D.C. snow day impact the work that you do — wherever you are?

Tuesday - 12/10/2013, 09:31am EST

Lawmakers to budget committee: Don't throw feds under the bus

Lawmakers, who face a self-imposed Friday deadline to come up with a fiscal 2014 budget plan, appear to be making progress toward a limited deal that would stave off another shutdown and give agencies the certainty of funding for the remainder of the year.But lawmakers with districts surrounding Washington, D.C. are preemptively speaking out against any proposal that, in their words, would "throw federal employees under the bus." Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), says that too often in the past federal employees' pay and benefits have "been used as pawns in budget negotiations."

Monday - 12/09/2013, 02:15pm EST
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Lawmakers plan bipartisan push on bill to help agencies offload unnecessary property

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), are jumpstarting a new effort to get both sides of the Capitol dome on board with a bill to make it easier for agencies to hang the "For Sale" sign outside their doors. Carper, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chaffetz, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hosted a Capitol Hill roundtable with private-sector real-estate experts and former government officials Wednesday to discuss a new legislative path forward.

Friday - 12/06/2013, 03:26pm EST

Even as federal retirements continue declining, OPM processing nosedives

The number of federal employees filing for retirement is on a downward swing. For the fifth month in a row, fewer federal employees than expected filed for retirement, according to new data from the Office of Personnel Management. However, OPM's efforts at processing federal-employee retirement applications also took a nosedive last month. OPM processed just 5,700 claims in November, less than half of what it predicted it would and nearly half the number of cases the agency cleared last month.

Thursday - 12/05/2013, 05:32pm EST

OPM tweaks snow-closure policy, with added push for telework

With the official start of winter just two weeks away, the Office of Personnel Management is tweaking its closure and dismissal guidelines. The updated policy changes the way OPM will communicate delayed arrivals and continues to call on agencies to ensure all federal employees who are telework-ready actually do so when OPM gives the say-so during inclement weather.

Thursday - 12/05/2013, 01:23pm EST

VA benefits set to slightly increase in 2014

When veterans and their families, who receive disability compensation and retirement benefits from the Veterans Affairs Department, receive their annual cost-of-living increase next month, for the first time ever, it won't be rounded down to the nearest dollar. Overall, the COLA for veterans benefits will increase 1.5 percent. Until this year, the COLA for veterans' benefits was rounded down to the nearest dollar. That will change with payments beginning in January.

Wednesday - 12/04/2013, 11:41am EST

Mica says agencies 'thwarting' proposed FTC relocation

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Oversight's Subcommittee on Government Operations, said the Federal Trade Commission and the General Services Administration are "thwarting" his proposal to force the FTC to relocate out of its historic headquarters building and into leased space in Southwest Washington, D.C.

Tuesday - 12/03/2013, 05:10pm EST

Whistleblower cases have gone 'through the roof,' even as OSC faces uncertain budget

The Office of Special Counsel, the agency tasked with investigating federal-agency whistleblower claims and protecting whistleblowers, themselves, from retaliation has seen demand for its work skyrocket in the wake of recent legislative changes. Now, Carolyn Lerner, the head of the OSC, said she hopes the small agency's budget will keep pace.

Monday - 12/02/2013, 05:23pm EST
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Most TSP funds hold steady in November, though gains slow

Nearly all the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan ended last month in positive territory, although with smaller gains than in the past few months. The C Fund, which is tracked to the performance of the Standard and Poor's 500, posted the largest gains — 3.05 percent, according to new data from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the TSP. Of the five regular funds, only the F Fund posted in the red for November

Monday - 12/02/2013, 11:14am EST

Why increasing feds' retirement contributions may not help cut the deficit

Requiring federal employees to contribute more of their salary toward retirement is rumored to be among the proposals being considered by the House-Senate budget conference committee as an partial alternative to the sequestration budget cuts. The proposal, which the Congressional Budget Office has concluded would increase federal revenues by nearly $20 billion over 10 years, has criticism from federal-employee unions. But now, at least one think tank, known for its hawkish stance on reducing the deficit, says the proposal could end up not saving the government a dime.

Monday - 12/02/2013, 06:00am EST

Will budget committee target feds' retirement contributions?

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.

Monday - 12/02/2013, 06:00am EST

Survey: Budget crises leave little time for long-term planning

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.

Wednesday - 11/27/2013, 04:48pm EST

Deadline to schedule 'use it or lose it' annual leave is Nov. 30

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.

Wednesday - 11/27/2013, 01:43pm EST

Mass-transit subsidy, once again, set to decline

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

Tuesday - 11/26/2013, 01:23pm EST

Feds who took TSP withdrawals during shutdown locked out of contributing for next six months

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.

Monday - 11/25/2013, 03:26pm EST

Bill calls for 'socially responsible' TSP fund

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.

Friday - 11/22/2013, 05:14pm EST

Issa subpoenas OPM documents on background checks

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.

Friday - 11/22/2013, 02:20pm EST

Bill would ensure blue-collar feds get 1 percent pay raise in January

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.

Friday - 11/22/2013, 11:11am EST

Panel: Digital technologies changing how agencies communicate -- both inside and out

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.

Thursday - 11/21/2013, 05:08pm EST
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