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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.
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.
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.
Federal employees are skeptical their managers are making effective decisions about the federal workforce, according to a new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board. Just 24 percent of the employees agreed that their agencies properly addressed poor performers, while 29 percent of respondents indicated their organizations eliminated unnecessary programs and positions, according to the survey of 42,000 feds from 24 agencies and departments.
The Office of Personnel Management is revamping its human-resources policy shop to provide more innovative solutions to the White House's workforce priorities. The newly created Center for Strategic Workforce Planning will focus on fostering innovation in federal workforce policies and plotting future HR trends. In addition, OPM's human capital officers (HCOs), which previously acted as OPM ambassadors to individual agencies, will instead serve as "HR strategists" to staff the new center and work on pilot projects in priority areas.
The Defense Department plans to boost the ranks of cybersecurity professionals, increasing cyber staff at U.S. Cyber Command by more than five times to some 4,900 employees. But DoD's plan is daunting in more ways than one. The job qualifications and skills needed for the kinds of positions the Pentagon wants are rare and often require years of training and hands-on experience. And even if DoD looks outside the confines of the Pentagon to fill these roles, it's not entirely clear where the new cyber pros would come from.
OPM announced federal offices would be open Monday on a "delayed arrival" schedule. It was the first time the agency has used the classification since it revamped its closure policies last year. But it didn't go off without a hitch - OPM updated the operating status language twice and some federal employees said they were confused by OPM's communication.
Of the more than 3.5 million workers employed by the federal government in 2012, about 956,000 - or 26.9 percent - were members of unions, according to the BLS data. That's a slight decline from 2011, when 28.1 percent of federal workers were union members.
The Government Accountability Office questions whether the Defense Department has done enough to ensure core competencies and key skills aren't lost or left unfilled as the department complies with the workforce caps.