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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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The exodus of employees from the federal workforce was a big story this past year: More federal employees retired in 2013 than the year before, providing grist for the mill for predictions of a coming federal retirement wave. Meanwhile, the Office of Personnel Management's efforts to clear a longstanding backlog of new retirement applications faced hurdles because of the steep sequestration budget cuts that hit government. Federal News Radio parsed through the data over the past year. In the series of charts and graphs below, track the latest trends.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has filed a lawsuit against Katherine Archuleta, the head of the Office of Personnel Management, seeking to overturn an OPM regulation that allows lawmakers and their staffs to continue receiving government contribution toward their health insurance premiums. Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, lawmakers and their staffs were booted from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), under which the government typically kicks in about three-fourths of the cost of federal employees' premiums, and required to purchase health insurance on the federal exchange.
Fewer federal employees filed for retirement in December than in any month in nearly the last two years, according to updated statistics from the Office of Personnel Management. Just 4,952 federal employees filed for retirement in December. But even with fewer employees retiring in December, OPM's retirement processing failed to keep pace with projections. The agency had expected to process 11,500 retirement cases but actually ended the month clearing a little more than 6,440.
The number of total bid protests filed by companies with the Government Accountability Office leveled off last year, falling slightly in fiscal 2013 compared to the previous year. All told, GAO received 2,429 bid protests — 2 percent less than the number received in fiscal 2012, according to figures released Jan. 2 in an annual report to Congress.
Nearly all the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan finished December in positive territory, helping fuel largely across-the-board gains for the year, according to new data from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The C and S Funds posted the largest gains of 2013. The F Fund, tracked to the performance of the U.S. bond market, including government, corporate and mortgage-backed bonds, is the only fund to end the year in the red.