Senior Correspondent Mike Causey it out today. This column was originally published July 15.
Here’s a horrible thought to kick off your week and, if handled properly, maybe ruin the rest of the year for you. The thought is this:
What if these are, in fact, the good old days for federal workers? The happy time — often in our youth — when we recall that people were nicer, the air was cleaner, politics weren’t as dirty and your clothes fit much better. A time when people didn’t laugh, or look away, when you walked on the beach.
Could it be that this time next year you will long for the relatively carefree period when all you had to worry about was paying 2013 health premiums, rent and food bills on your 2010 salary?
Will you, this time next year, be longing for the good old days when you were only furloughed every other Monday or Friday. The good times when you were encouraged and allowed to work all 10 days of a pay period. And get paid for the same.
When sequestration was devised, politicians said it better not happen or wouldn’t (because it couldn’t happen). Wrong!
Then, when it became apparent that it would happen, some predicted the nation, the economy and the stock market could come to a screeching halt. Wrong again, at least so far.
What has happened is that tens of thousands of federal workers have lost pay because their agencies had to furlough them even as other agencies found ways around furloughs. Some high-profile operations were exempt from furloughs. Others, like the IRS and Defense Department, did it.
DoD is generally the lead agency when there are major changes in federal employment or job deployment. It led the way with buyouts, the merit-based pay-for-performance system and other personnel changes.
DoD managed to delay furloughs while some agencies were having them. And it managed to reduce (at least so far) by 50 percent the number of estimated furlough days. As long as DoD hangs tough, that is a good sign for many other agencies.
But last month the Pentagon formally told Congress what some experts and union leaders have warned about for some time. The worst may be yet to come. As in layoffs — reductions in force — replacing furloughs in the new fiscal year.
Lots, of course, could happen. A new world crisis could derail Defense downsizing as it has before. But if it doesn’t, many feds who are currently on furloughs may decide it is a good time to update their resumes.
Hagel lays out options for sequestration beyond 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out a “menu of options” for dealing with sequestration beyond 2014. In a Pentagon briefing Wednesday, Hagel said changes to military pay and benefits, consolidating headquarters staff and potential modest reduction in military force structure are all possible. The proposed changes stem from a four-month long “Strategic Choices and Management Review” that DoD began working on after sequestration went into effect March 1.
Sen. Coburn to put hold on OPM director nominee Sen. Tom Coburn wants an answer from the Office of Personnel Management and the White House on how the Affordable Care Act will apply to lawmakers and their staff before moving forward with Katherine Archuleta’s nomination to serve as OPM director.
Outgoing FEEA loans almost triple since May The Federal Employee Education and Assistance fund hit record furlough aid distributions this month, processing more than 148 furlough-related loans in July totaling $87,000, according to a press release. Furlough and non-furlough assistance totaled more than $119,000 in July – the highest FEEA one-month record of outgoing dollars in its 28-year history – according to a July 31 press release. Total assistance provided by FEEA amounted to $90,000 in June and $42,000 in May, according to an earlier release.