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Guidance from the administration on what steps federal agencies should take to prepare for potential across-the-board budget cuts has set off a war of words between federal-employee unions and industry groups. The American Federation of Government Employees says guidance exempts contractors at the expense of federal employees, but industry groups say the criticism is misguided.
President Barack Obama will recommend a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees in his fiscal 2014 budget request, according to federal-employee unions. The pay increase will apply to both civilian federal workers and military members. The White House is expected to release its full budget request next month.
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.
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.
The House soundly rejected an amendment to the Superstorm Sandy aid bill that would have required an across-the-board 1.63 percent cut to agency spending to offset the emergency funding. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) introduced the amendment last week along with a separate proposal to revoke a mass-transit subsidy for federal workers.
A series of cost-savings amendments to the Superstorm Sandy aid bill the House will consider this week has drawn the ire of a federal-employee union who say the proposals "unfairly target" government workers. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) has proposed defraying some of the costs of the $50 billion recovery package by rescinding a mass-transit tax benefit for federal employees and by ordering more across-the-board agency budget cuts.
The bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" reinstates parity between the parking and mass-transit subsidies. The mass-transit subsidy was reduced in 2011 to $125 even as a similar subsidy for parking benefits was increased to $240 a month.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal employees can appeal decisions of the Merit Systems Protection Board stemming from discrimination-related complaints in federal district court. The ruling follows earlier lower court decisions that required employee appeals to go solely through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The justices' decision applies to federal employees filing "mixed cases" — complaints involving both allegations of wrongful termination and job discrimination — under the Civil Service Reform 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 unions have hailed the re-election of President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But despite the excitement, union leaders are tempering their expectations for a second term. National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley and J. David Cox, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told Federal News Radio their groups are ready to play an expanded role to deal with the budget deficit and alternatives to the sequestration cuts coming in January.