4:41 am, April 18, 2014

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  • Worker rights
    Jimmac
    The only way to properly address the attacks on federal workers is to insure that everybody votes. That means not only the feds but the folks you left behind to come to the Emerald city. The present elected officials feel that they are free to do whatever they want to federal employees without any consequences. Employees should contact friends and family back home and let them know that if the present attacks continue and the "Ts" are successful, we will be looking at a drive through window service level provided at exorbitant contractor rates. If we are really lucky the service will be rendered in English. It should be noted that the Republicans are taking a serious look at the federal retirement benefits. I think we need to make sure that journalists no longer feed the fire and refer to our benefits as "generous", "excessive", or any other adjective that would lead the unknowing to believe that feds live at the same level as their elected (bought and paid for) officials.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • Can't agree anymore
    FED UP IRS FERS FED
    Jimmac brings up a great point that I previously mentioned several times overs the years. Mike C. always seems to use the word "generous" or "for life" when referring to the FEHBP as well as our other benefits. As I pointed out previously, some of my buddies out there in the private world of non government work have better health plans (benefits wise) than ours and they also have it for life. Yes, my BC/BS is better than many folks who flip burgers for a living but I still pay 1/3 of my premiums plus thousands in copays, coinsurance & deductibles, etc. Mike, you and your fellow media folks, have to stop using the word generous when describing our benefits as they are part of the reason I am making less than I can if I remained working for that CPA firm--more benfits with less salary--the tradeoff. There are many better health plans out there available to the non burger flipping public along with even more "generous" benefits. Time to find more descriptive adjectives Mike.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • Walking Dead
    Teachersson
    I have no work to do while people brag at meetings that they are so busy and people go to them. I hear about the meetings they go to (which I should have been attending based on my expertise) but they are trying to go around me and have the blessings of the boss. They know if you don't use skills you lose them, so they try to get as busy and critical as they can - all while leaving many employees to pull down millions over the years in salary and health care yet to do nothing. There is no team anywhere around here. Federal service was unravelled under the competition and mismanagement of NSPS.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • It's a shame
    EricE
    While I agree the overall effect will be positive, these kinds of "scandals" do also have negative effects on positive conferences. An agency I used to work for has a conference every two to three years for all of their IT personnel. This agency is one of many that has a very disbursed workforce across literally hundreds of offices throughout the US, and this IT conference provides a valuable time for all of their IT personnel to not only meet one another and network (encouraging a "one agency" culture as opposed to the traditional stove-piping inherit in IT), but receive valuable training in person that these smaller offices wouldn't otherwise be able to afford - either in classes or in travel to individual classes. By concentrating often expensive training into group sessions, and providing that training at one location that a large group of people travel to at the same time, there are incredible economies of scale. And as much as I am a proponent of the Internet, email and telework - you still can't replace the incredible value of having people physically interacting. I chaired the committee to plan one of the conferences a few years back - and in doing our initial market research, we discovered that Las Vegas was an excellent site due to it's tourism nature. Plane flights are readily available and are often cheaper, hotel rooms likewise readily available and at really good rates, per diem is among the lower of the city pairs, etc. The same with Oralando and other tourism oriented spots. Yet, because of previous scandals and "perception" issues such sites were deemed not acceptable and excluded from our consideration. Talk about the proverbial throwing of the baby out with the bath water! I believe the answer to this is simple - agencies just need to follow the acquisition guidance that exists for planning and purchasing the required services for conferences. There is an excellent tool that was developed at the DOD that allows you to cost estimate the top 10 most cost effective locations for your meeting or conference and it's based on where your attendees are going to originate from. One of our team members plugged in all the originating locations for the 350 attendees from our previous conference, and by analyzing the per-deium and airline contract fares provided a very useful "top 50" list. Combined with a requirements package that was developed from a conference planning template I obtained from attending a free session at HSMAI's Affordable Meetings conference we performed a full and open competition and ended up with a city that proposed the entire first floor of their convention center and their partner hotel proposed rooms at a discount. We had full use of all the hotel's meeting rooms during the week as well. We followed all guidance for snacks during the conference, including the appropriate agency approval. All aspects of the meeting were properly competed and documented. The shared conference costs for the meeting space as well as some of the other minor overhead items were billed back to the attendees as in the past - previous conference fee's averaged around $350 an attendee - that particular conference was under $150, and we received the highest satisfaction ratings and the largest amount of feedback forms ever submitted. So you can host effective meetings that provide significant value to the government and the taxpayers. Where agencies and their meeting planners often go wrong is when they start to take liberties with the planning process (i.e. excessive "scouting" trips), or with food/dinners that are outside the scope of federal guidelines. As with most things in the federal government - particularly when you are spending federal money, there is lots of specific guidance that is readily available that will keep you out of trouble. You just have to seek it out then follow it! Perhaps this time, the egregious offenders will be dealt with and removed or face criminal charges where appropriate. While I don't mind the extra scrutiny scandals like this often bring (because, unfortunately, such scrutiny is often long overdue), I don't look forward to the overall chilling effect this will have that will eliminate legitimate and very beneficial conferences and group meetings. Rather than a binary yes/no, it's too bad oversight mechanisms that are provided for aren't more effective at preventing this sort of activity in the first place. To me figuring out why those broke down and fixing those issues are far more valuable than simply banning something because of a few incidents that happened to be caught.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • Appearances
    contrarian
    As long as you don't use software from the lodging industry your system sounds fine. But there's being cheap, like going to Virginia Beach in the off season, but looks bad because any destination with "beach" in it sounds like a boondoggle. Yet, all of the latest scandals that will likely come back to bite ALL fed emps were self created, apparently from cultures that have no feedback mechanism to consider how inappropriate the excesses are. Conferences are great, getting together cheaply is great, sharing knowledge or skills, and networking is great. In fact, for most front line Feds there's very little travel or perks. How many Feds get stock options like at Google, Apple or Facebook? Or bonuses like Wall Street? If the only perk is a conference every other year, as long at the costs are kept down, I would say the money is well spent. But pigs get fed and hogs get slaughtered.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • The Congress IS THE PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    FED UP IRS FERS FED
    I'll keep this short. The Congress IS THE PROBLEM. They represent themselves nowadays--not the people who elected them into their cushy overpaid jobs. They think they are movie stars nowadays and they are afraid how what they say or do will come off in the media, especially on TV. It is just face time that they are concerned with. Time to turn off the TV cameras and get back to work behind closed doors without making a FEDERAL case out of everything. While you are at it, time to slash your insane expenses, staff & other allowances and start earning your keep for a change. I can go on and on but why bother with these clowns who are in love with themselves?
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • DC residents like to whine about 'no representation'
    G Street
    I've lived in many states -- representation = is overrated! LOL
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • The Annual "FED EMPLOYEES ARE LOSERS" BBQ
    Lisa Lisa
    Ahhh...can you smell it? Its been in the air for some time...you know...the smell of fed employees on the spit..BBQ'ed to a crisp perfection. And who is turning the spit? Republican Congress. Republican candidates. And..Fox News. Since Bush, fed employees have been labeled many things. Its a wonder we come out even human by all Repub accounts. They think we are rich (chuckle)and they tell feeble minded voters this stuff. You know: We all drive $50K cars, 6 BR houses, all of our kids are in private ivy league schools, we all have nannies and hired help, we own additional properties in the Caymans and a posh penthouse in NYC. Uncle Sam pays us too much. We dont do anything. Sounds to me this sounds more like the Repub Congress (or Presidential nominees)than a fed employee. Perhaps someone needs to attach this list to a mirror and send it to all of the Republicans.
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • addendum to my own comment
    Lisa Lisa
    The ending should have been..."send it to all of the Republican politicians (and pres. nominee)
    { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }
  • { "Agree":"1","Funny":"1","Insightful":"1","Disagree":"-1","Offensive":"-1","Troll":"-1" }