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Federal employees began learning Friday whether they'll be forced to stay home if the government shuts down next week. Supervisors were tasked with informally telling employees today whether they are classified as "essential" or "nonessential," according to several federal-employee unions briefed by the Obama administration. Congress is prepared to work through the weekend, but the clock is ticking down for lawmakers to agree on a funding bill keeping the lights on at agencies beyond Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service says it can return to being profitable and begin to pay down its debt if Congress gives it the authority to overhaul its health benefits structure. Postmaster General Pat Donahoe told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday that launching a postal-specific health care plan would help save the agency $8 billion annually through 2016.
Members of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board approved a nearly 18 percent increase in the agency's budget for the coming fiscal year that will help lay the groundwork for a wholesale overhaul of the TSP participant experience, board officials say. The single, new initiative included in the 2014 budget is the first in a series of steps built around redesigning the entire participant experience, the board's executive director, Greg Long told board members.
Concerns over missed red flags in Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis's background have thrust the federal government's security clearance program into the spotlight. But the problem is likely bigger than one company. The Office of Personnel Management — and its contractors — which accounts for 90 percent of the federal government's background investigations, has faced persistent challenges with security clearances over the years, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Budget cuts and bad publicity have combined to put the kibosh on both the number of government conferences scheduled this year and the number of employees and contractors attending them, according to a new poll from Market Connections, Inc. and Boscobel Marketing Communications. Among federal employees, nearly 72 percent of survey respondents said they have attended fewer events in fiscal 2013 than they did last year.
Naval Sea Systems Command leadership will work to find alternative work accommodations for the 3,000 employees who worked in the command's headquarters at the Washington Navy Yard facility. The building was the site of a mass shooting Monday in which 13, people, including the gunman, were killed.
Updated Thrift Savings Plan regulations would allow the same-sex spouse of a TSP participant to collect death benefits as long as they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex unions, regardless of where they live currently.
The same company that performed National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden's background investigation also performed a check of Aaron Alexis, the IT contractor who shot and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard Monday. The Office of Personnel Management said it believes Alexis' background check was complete and that the Defense Department signed off on the results of the background check.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says a Senate bill aiming to overhaul the Postal Service's financial structure by providing the agency more flexibility to price its products is a good first step. Donahoe has been calling on Congress to approve comprehensive postal reform for much of the last two years. In that time, the cash-strapped agency has posted losses of $20 billion and defaulted on more than $11 billion in payments to prefund retiree health care costs. USPS is set to default on a $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30 payment, Donahoe said.
New legislation introduced by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushes the Pentagon toward being ready for a full financial audit by restricting spending on major weapons programs if DoD fails to get its books in order.