Today’s guests on the Federal News Countdown: – Jennifer Mattingley, director of government affairs, Shaw Bransford & Roth – Tim McManus, vice president for education and outreach, Partnership for Public Service
All Army civilian employees will be able to look up their personnel records online by October 2013, an official said Wednesday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting in Washington.Barbara Panther, director of the Army’s Civilian Human Resources Agency, said that Army civilians in Europe and Asia can already access their records online, and the rest will gain access to their electronic Official Personnel Folder – or eOPF – records this year.
President Obama is doubling down on optimism that he and Congress will be able to quickly handle the nation’s vexing fiscal problems. Obama told the Des Moines Register that he thinks a grand bargain with Republicans on long-term deficit reduction is achievable and predicted it could happen by the middle of next year if he is re-elected. He told the newspaper, “we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business.”
After General Services Administration workers were found splurging on hotels, food and catering for a regional conference near Las Vegas two years ago, the Obama administration imposed new guidelines that limit the amount of money that federal agencies can spend on such events. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the directive saved more than $600 million in the first two quarters of this fiscal year, compared with the same period in 2010.
Federal agencies have been told that they can continue to use interns referred from third parties such as intern placement agencies after a recent overhaul of government intern-type programs. The government in July formally launched the Pathways program that revised or replaced several prior developmental and hiring programs for students and graduates. The Pathways Program consists of an intern program for undergraduates, a graduate program and the long-running Presidential Management Fellows program for those with advanced degrees.
What will the winner of the Nov. 6 presidential election do about heading off sequestration – the across-the-board reduction of $1.2 trillion in government outlays over the next 10 years? Included is $500 billion that must come from future defense spending. In the eight weeks after the polls close, a lame-duck Congress, which has been incapable of dealing with the problem for 11 months, must pass legislation that reduces the deficit by the required $1.2 trillion or the cuts in defense and non-defense spending begin to take place Jan. 3, unless Congress takes some other legislative action and the president approves it.
There’s good reason federal employee unions don’t use last week’s Federal Salary Council report to demand a mighty pay raise for their members. The council says Uncle Sam’s workforce is underpaid, not including benefits, by almost 35 percent compared with the private sector. That’s a huge difference, particularly when compared with last year’s figure of 26.3 percent. But there’s no point in pushing for a raise that great when no one expects the government to give up that kind of money, despite a routinely ignored law requiring the gap to be no more than 5 percent.