Top News from FEDmanager
Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General’s Office of Audit and Evaluation released a report analyzing the 2018 end-to-end test done to prepare for the 2020 census. The report concluded that the Census Bureau must address several concerns before 2020 in order to complete a successful census.
Last month the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017 passed Congress and was signed into law. Included in this legislation was the OPEN Government Data Act, which requires all non-sensitive government data to be made available to the public. The law established non-political Chief Data Officers (CDOs) to guide agencies in implementing this policy.
WAEPA (Worldwide Assurance for Employees of Public Agencies), a nonprofit Voluntary Employee Benefits Association which offers Group Term Life Insurance* exclusively to Civilian Federal Employees, made headlines in January when they announced they were waiving January’s premiums for all their members, including those for Members not impacted by the partial Government Shutdown, which went on for 35 days from December 21, 2018 to January 25, 2019, and affected approximately 22% of Federal workers.
A bipartisan group of representatives is working to “ban the box” --specifically the box federal job applicants check that discloses their criminal record. As a follow up to the First Step Act, the First Chance Act would delay disclosure of a criminal record until a conditional offer of employment is given.
President Trump is encouraging federal agencies to buy American-made products with an executive order signed late last week. This order builds on a previous executive order calling for federal financial assistance awards to provide preference to goods, products, and materials produced in the United States. Under the expanded measure, “domestic preference” covers not only iron and steel, but also products containing aluminum, plastics, concrete, glass, and lumber.
The Government Accountability Office has launched the new Science, Technology Assessment and Analytics (STAA) team, dedicated to using cutting edge research methods to solve Congress’s problems. The team hopes to provide insight and analysis on how federal agencies employ science and technology in dealing with issues such as regenerative medicine, 5G wireless communication, and quantum computing, according to a GAO blog release on the subject.
Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) has reintroduced a measure that would modernize the security clearance system. Warner hopes the Modernizing the Trusted Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2019 will reduce the security clearance backlog while saving time and money.
While much of the news has rightly been dominated by the partial government shutdown and the 2019 pay freeze, the 116th Congress is slowly beginning to turn the gears and get underway. New legislation is being introduced and reintroduced from earlier sessions of Congress. Among the bills that has been reintroduced is the TRICARE Reserve Select Improvement Act (H.R. 613 / S. 164), introduced by Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), respectively. This legislation, referred to the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services, would address an issue the Federal Managers Association (FMA) has been working on for several years.
The U.S. borders have inundated news cycles in recent months. To find out what’s really going on, tune in to FEDtalk to hear a group of federal law enforcement professionals discuss what they experience at the border and what they need to do their mission.
Answering emails can be stressful and time consuming. Entrepreneur Thomas Frank offers tips on how to clean out the clutter and keep what matters.
Federal workers are returning to their offices after the longest government shutdown in US history. Over 800,000 workers who missed two paychecks as a result of the shutdown are expected to receive back pay this week; unfortunately, the stopgap spending measure only lasts until Feb. 15, setting up another possible shutdown next month.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is beginning their busiest season a few steps behind as employees return to work following the government shutdown. As the IRS works to recover, Americans all over the country may feel the impact of this backlog come filing season.
Last week, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released their interim report, setting the stage for the next year of action. Julie Perkins of Shaw, Bransford, & Roth P.C. hosted a discussion between Commissioner Mark Gearan and Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service to learn more about what the commission is doing and what our public service needs it to do.
Last week, FEDmanager reported on the Federal Circuit’s decision in Siler v. EPA, on the issue of whether EPA adequately asserted the attorney-client privilege to withhold documents from Siler during the discovery phase of his MSPB appeal his removal from federal service. This week, we report on the portion of the court’s decision that vacated the MSPB’s denial of Siler’s whistleblower reprisal affirmative defense and remanded the matter to MSPB for further proceedings.
Representative Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) has introduced the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019, or H.R. 790. This legislation provides a 2.6% pay raise across the board which, for most employees, would be retroactively applied from Jan. 1, 2019. Rep. Connolly has framed this as necessary relief for federal workers recovering from the government shutdown.
As the President of FEDS, I didn’t know whether to celebrate the agreement to fund agencies through midFebruary or to commiserate over the uncertainty that lies ahead. What I did know, as a former federal employee, is that the fallout of a shutdown brings uncertainty into homes of employees and frustration where offices or agencies are unstaffed or understaffed. Due to the potential stress caused by such circumstances, I made the decision early on in December that FEDS member benefits would not be interrupted and that policies would remain in-force, even if there were missed payments during or because of a shutdown. I feel that it was necessary then, and now more than ever, that you know that we are in this with all federal employees, and that we will always have your back.
Picking the right words can be difficult. Particularly in spontaneous situations, it can be easy to say the wrong thing. Matt Abrahams, a Lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, provides a lesson on how to speak on the fly with greater confidence and clarity.
A former Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Democrat Chai Feldblum, has been awaiting Senate confirmation for her third term on the commission. On January 2, with the ending of the 115th Congress, the nominations of Feldblum and two others for the EEOC expired. Now, Feldblum has announced she will no longer be seeking a third term.
Furloughed workers in need of relief are finding it, not in the government, but in their communities across the country. As workers approach their second missed paycheck due to the government shutdown, private corporations, religious groups, and community organizations have been working to help furloughed workers make ends meet.