This year, federal employees faced seven short-term spending bills, three near-government shutdowns and the failure of the deficit reduction “supercommittee” talks. Throughout the year, Federal News Radio senior correspondent Mike Causey has kept federal workers informed on issues affecting agency cutbacks and feds’ pay and benefits. Here are the most popular Causey columns of 2011:
Six Percent Pay Cut is Halfway Home (May 13, 2011) “Forget the pay freeze. Brace yourself for a pay cut too! Most federal workers would see their take-home pay drop 5 to 6 percent under legislation the Senate is scheduled to take up next week.”
Not Your Father’s Shutdown: Good, Bad News (Feb. 28, 2011) “The Great Government Shutdown of 2011 (if it happens) may, almost certainly, be very different than the Great Government Shutdown of 1995-96 which very definitely happened.”
Retirees Eye 3.5 Percent Raise! (June 17, 2011) “Things are looking up, at long last, for retirees. With long-dormant inflation suddenly on the rise, federal, military and Social Security retirees are looking at a possible January cost of living adjustment of 3.5 percent. And if living costs continue to climb, the raise could be even bigger.”
Congressional Delay Eats Into Retirees Checks (Feb. 1, 2011) “Thanks to dawdling by last year’s lame duck Congress, millions of federal retirees and survivors took cuts ranging from about $20 to more than $50 in their most recent annuity payments.”
And the Secret Word is: BUYOUTS! (March 28, 2011) “Saying the word “buyout” to a long-time federal worker is the equivalent of saying “cold beer” to a NASCAR fan or “tally-ho” to a foxhunter or fighter pilot: It gets their attention!”
Hoping For a Buyout? Hang Tight! (May 2, 2011) “Government-wide buyouts, that were commonplace in the 1990s then all but disappeared, are starting to make a comeback, but on a very limited basis.”
Government Shutdown, World To End…or not (Feb. 23, 2011) “The last serious government shutdown was Dec. 16, 1995 to Jan. 6, 1996. That’s 15 years ago. The average government worker has been a fed for 17 years. So while there are many current feds who went though it, it also means that lots of people working in government today were either very new to the job, or were not on the job – maybe not out of junior high school – when it happened.”
$50K Buyout and a Pony?(May 16, 2011) “If Uncle Sam offered a limited-time-only super-generous incentive would that persuade you to take either regular or early retirement? Under current rules, buyouts are limited to a maximum of $25,000 (before deductions) and early retirements are possible at age 50 with 20 years of service or at any age with 25 years of service.
But what if the deal was this: A $50,000 payment, five extra years credited to both your age and service time meaning a much higher lifetime annuity. And a pony! A really cute one.”
Downsizing, Relocations, Benefit Reductions Up Next? (Jan. 19, 2011) “Is the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, the second largest federal agency, the ghost of Christmas future for your agency and your job? Is the USPS the federal canary in the coal mine? Will it repeat Clinton era cuts of “overhead” jobs by eliminating thousands of administrative, supervisory and postmaster positions held by people who don’t actually touch the mail?”
A holiday traveler had her frosted cupcake confiscated by a Transportation Security Administration agent because the gel-like vanilla frosting posed a “security risk,” according to ABC News. Usually cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage, according to TSA rules. However liquids, pastes and gels are restricted to 3.4 ounce containers or smaller.
Avoid end-of-year tax traps You have hours left to give your charitable contribution in order to save on your 2011 taxes. If you are mailing a cash or check, be sure to have it postmarked no later than Dec. 31, said registered employee benefit consultant Ed Zurndorfer.