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National Guard would feel furlough squeeze (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff February 22, 2013 National Guard members could be affected by the department’s furlough of civilian employees that could begin in late April if Congress fails to stop sequestration from kicking in across-the-board budget cuts March 1. According to a news posting…

Furloughs would mean less money in TSP accounts (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff February 19, 2013 Federal employees’ retirement and investment accounts will also be impacted by sequestration, in the event furloughs take place, the Washington Post reports. Employees who invest in the Thrift Savings Plan based on a percentage of their salary…

President urges Congress to avoid ‘Washington-manufactured problem’ (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff February 19, 2013 In remarks to a gathering of emergency responders at the White House Tuesday, President Obama skewered Congress for failing to meet the goal it set for itself in 2011 when it devised the doomsday sequestration scheme whose implementation now…

Agencies Cut Thousands of Jobs Last Month, Report Finds

Written by FEDmanager on 05 February 2013. Posted in General News

Five thousand jobs were cut by the federal government last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The agency also found that 9,000 jobs were lost in all of government, including federal, state and local sectors, during January.

“Today’s report is a reminder of the importance of the need for Congress to act to avoid self-inflicted wounds to the economy,” said Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. “The administration continues to urge Congress to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending, and replaces the sequester, while making critical investments in the economy that promote growth and job creation and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

The private sector, on the other hand, continued to add jobs in January, with BLS reporting total nonfarm employment increasing by 157,000 last month. This is the 35th straight month the private sector has added jobs. BLS reported that the areas with the most job increases were retail, construction, health care and social assistance, professional and business services and restaurants and bars.

Even with notable increases in some private sector areas, the unemployment rate inched up from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent.

Navy to cut thousands from workforce (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff January 25, 2013 The Navy will trim back its workforce by more than 3,000 positions by implementing a hiring freeze and laying off temporary employees, Federal Times reports. The cuts will come from its shipyard workforce. The news came in a Jan. 24 memo from…

Information You Need

Government Will Borrow From Federal Employee Pension Fund to Avoid Passing Debt Limit – FedSmith.com

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employee pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching debt limit.
Govt To Borrow From Pension Fund

Union membership continues to slip (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff January 24, 2013 Union membership and union representation continued to slide all across the public sector in 2012, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, public-sector workers last year nonetheless continued to outpace…

Federal workers feel unease over potential layoffs, furloughs unleashed by ‘fiscal cliff’

By , Published: December 24

Federal employees have been skeptical for months that the biggest cuts to government spending in history could really happen. But with the “fiscal cliff” a week away, workers are now growing increasingly alarmed that their jobs and their missions could be on the line.

President Obama and members of Congress headed out of town late last week for a Christmas break without reaching a deal to avoid $110 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts, which would hamstring operations ranging from weather forecasting and air traffic control to the purchase of spare parts for weapons systems. So civil servants are bracing for the blow, wondering whether their work will be upended — and whether they may be forced to take unpaid days off.

“This could change day by day,” said Antonio Webb, 25, who works in the mail service that handles correspondence for the Department of Homeland Security. “You could come into work and the next day they say, ‘We don’t need you because we have to cut so much.’ ”

Many federal workers have become jaded after a two-year pay freeze and congressional fights over spending that keep agencies lurching from one stopgap budget to another. Until recently, few employees thought it could come to this: Budget cuts of 8 to 10 percent divided equally between military and domestic agencies. Only a few programs, like Social Security, veterans benefits and some services for the poor, are exempted.

“Sure, we continue to do our jobs,” said Carl Eichenwald, who works in enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency. “But all of this uncertainty is disruptive for our mission. A lot of time gets spent spinning wheels. We won’t know whether we can do inspections. Do we have 100 percent of our budget, or 85 percent?”

Top congressional aides said Monday that discussions of how to avert the fiscal cliff had come to a virtual standstill. Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had not spoken since Friday.

Each side in the negotiations urged the other to come up with a way around the impasse. A senior Democratic aide said Boehner needs to return from the holiday with a “cleared head and a readiness to deal.” The aide said that there is no time for Democrats to unilaterally advance a bill in the Senate, adding that they can press forward with legislation only if they are assured by Republican leaders of GOP support.

A senior Senate Republican aide insisted, however, that it is now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and his fellow Democrats to figure out what they can pass in the Senate without worrying about the Republican-controlled House.

As the year-end deadline approaches, federal employees have been told very little by their bosses about how their agencies are preparing to carry out huge spending reductions.

“It seemed like we were almost immune to thinking that something real was going to come of it,” said Fernando Cutz, an analyst for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Then came an e-mailed memo on Thursday from agency heads to employees. The cuts would be “significant and harmful to our collective mission.” Furloughs “or other personnel actions” — layoffs — remain a real possibility.

Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro, in a lengthy video message, for instance, told employees of the Government Accountability Office that the agency would absorb a $42 million cut this year through a hiring freeze, slashed bonuses, eliminated technology projects and restricted travel. But those cuts “will not get us all the way there,” he said, and he did not mince words. “Some number of agency-wide furlough days” would be necessary.

The memos were also meant to make clear that the government would be open for business the day after New Year’s even if Obama and Congress fail to reach a deal to avoid the spending cuts.

“We wanted to make sure there was no confusion before people left for the holidays that they should come back to work,” said GAO spokesman Charles Young.

Outside the Capital Beltway, the budget battle loomed less large among federal employees.

“Once in a blue moon, we’ll exchange barbs and quips about the situation,” said Timothy Flavin, who handles disability claim appeals for the Social Security Administration in Rochester, N.Y. “They’re either apathetic, or they’re afraid to say anything,” he said of his colleagues.

Even if there is no last-minute agreement, Jan. 2 would not be doomsday because some cuts could be put off until later in the fiscal year. Most agencies would continue spending, but with caution, eliminating travel and training programs and slowing or halting hiring. Overtime would be phased out, as would temporary help. Managers may have to decide whom to furlough and for how long.

The Budget and Control Act of 2011 gives agencies 30 days to figure out exactly how they would juggle their finances, down to specific contracts and programs that would be eliminated. Union officials say they would demand bargaining over furloughs and possible layoffs. Unions would also want to bargain over the use of contractors to ensure they’re cut before federal employees.

Managers say that without knowing how long the cuts will be in effect, they can’t make smart decisions.

“As a manager, you’re effectively placing bets,” said Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, which represents 7,300 top career executives in the government. “Do I start this contract or not start it? Let this vendor go?” she asked. “I stop training, but what if they don’t have that opportunity for a year? At what point do I say, ‘You’re not going’? ”

The Office of Management and Budget has instructed managers to consider furloughs as a last resort. But for agencies where labor makes up most of the budget, they would be hard to avoid.

“Employees understand that they will still be working on January 2nd,” said Patty Viers, a customer account specialist for the Defense Logistics Agency and president of Local 1148 of the American Federation of Government Employees. “But they’re getting more and more concerned about what’s going to happen in three months.”

Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.

The Social Security Administration announced a 1.7 percent increase in Social Security benefits for 2013. The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment will begin in January 2013 for about 56 million Social Security beneficiaries.

Early retirement offer at USPS (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By FederalDaily Staff August 28, 2012 The U.S. Postal Service will offer voluntary early retirement to more than 3,300 managerial and administrative non-bargaining employees, according to an online USPS notice. Those who accept the offer must retire by Dec. 31. USPS said it is notifying…

USPS will default on $5.5 billion payment (via Federal Daily)

Federal Daily News By Federal Daily Staff Jul 31, 2012 The U.S. Postal Service said July 30 that it will not make its scheduled multibillion-dollar payment to prefund retiree health benefits. The $5.5 billion payment is due Aug. 1. Without legislative relief from Congress, USPS said, the Postal Service…