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Just two years ago, Arlington National Cemetery was plagued by mismarked and unidentified gravesites and incomplete paper records. Now, the Army has at its disposal a massive, GPS-enabled digital database of every gravesite. And what's more — the cemetery has made the database available to the public via its website and a mobile application.
The Veterans Affairs Department's mobile projects have centered on improving internal business processes and changing how the agency interacts with the public. The department's "Clinic-in-Hand" program, which will launch early next year, will deploy iPads to family caregivers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. And increasingly VA doctors and nurses are eschewing the clipboards and prescription pads in favor of mobile options.
The Office of Personnel Management received fewer retirement claims in November than in any month since February this year, according to new data from the agency. But this is likely just the calm before the storm, according to OPM projections, which anticipate a wave of retirement claims in January.
After a dull October, funds in the Thrift Savings Plan bounced back in November with all funds posting modest gains for the month. The TSP's performance in November marks a return to a mostly strong year for feds' 401(k)-style retirement-savings plan after a bit of a backslide last month.
The Senate moved forward with a plan to require the Defense Department to reduce its civilian workforce by 5 percent over the next five years, after a measure striking that provision was defeated in a vote Friday. Earlier this week, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which would lift a mandated 5 percent reduction to DoD's civilian and contractor workforces over five years. But in a 53-41 vote, Cardin's amendment was defeated.
The Homeland Security Department would be required to conduct and pass a full financial audit under a bill unanimously approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The DART Act requires the agency, long characterized by the Government Accountability Office as being at high-risk for waste and abuse, to reach a clean audit opinion by 2013.
The White House is threatening to veto the $631 billion annual Defense bill the Senate is debating this week unless Congress makes changes. The administration took issue with a number of provisions included in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill, which Senate leaders hope to vote on by the end of the week.
The Senate unanimously approved a measure requiring the Veterans Affairs Department to work more closely with state agencies to reduce a longstanding and growing backlog of disability claims. The measure, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was included as an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
Disabled federal workers with dependents would be among the hardest hit by proposed changes to federal workers' compensation benefits, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office. The Labor Department has proposed setting a uniform level of compensation — 70 percent of the pre-injury salary — regardless of dependents and further reducing benefits to 50 percent when employees reach retirement age. But in its report which simulated those proposed changes, GAO raised concerns about the effects on beneficiaries.
Federal employee satisfaction on nearly every measure dropped this year, according to the 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Complaints about federal pay mostly fueled feds' declining morale. But former federal human-capital officials also pointed to the role of senior agency leaders.