The House has approved a massive spending bill that would slash funding for the Internal Revenue Service by more than $1 billion next year. The agency, which has been under fire for the improper targeting of conservative groups, would see its current $11.3 billion budget decline by 13 percent under the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill for fiscal 2015 passed by the House Wednesday. But that’s just one of the the provisions of the bill drawing the ire of the Obama administration, which issued a notice earlier this week threatening to veto the legislation.
There’s growing consensus on Capitol Hill and from the Obama administration that the pay and personnel system used by the federal government since 1949 and infrequently updated is showing its age — and due for a major facelift. Lawmakers probed the General Schedule system Tuesday during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census.
The Defense Department is getting smarter about workforce planning — making sure it has the right people with the right skills in the right positions. But DoD’s five-year strategic workforce plan, released last fall, is short on details in a few key areas, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
The size of DoD’s civilian acquisition workforce has grown by some 20,000 employees over the past five years and now numbers about 135,000 personnel members, according to Stephanie Barna, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management. That’s thanks to an effort by DoD begun in 2009 to recapitalize its acquisition workforce. But the department’s focus on the acquisition workforce has been strained by a slew of competing priorities and congressionally-mandated belt-tightening, Barna said.
A new bipartisan report from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations called the Air Force’s now-canceled Expeditionary Combat Support System “one of the most egregious examples of mismanagement by the DoD in recent memory.” But the failure of ECSS may not be an aberration, the report suggested. Other enterprise-resource planning programs in the department are at risk of falling victim to the same fate.
The appropriations process was supposed to be easier this year compared to last, because lawmakers had signed off on a bipartisan deal that set top-line spending levels for the next two years. But action in both the House and the Senate appears to have largely stalled.
Despite a series of efforts to expand the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal workers by the Obama administration, LGBT feds, who comprise about 3 percent of the federal workforce, are less satisfied, feel less empowered on the job and are less likely to rate their agency’s senior leaders and management as highly as their non-LGBT counterparts, according to a recent survey.
OMB has already deployed small teams to a few agencies to help with one-off digital projects, but the next step is standing up a more formal “Digital Service” within OMB. When fully operational, the office would be staffed with about 25 tech professionals — from outside the government — who would parachute into agencies on two-to-four-year rotations to help get new IT projects off the ground and help get wayward projects back on track.
A series of management blunders and agency misbehavior in recent years ranging from the General Services Administration to the Veterans Affairs Department, haven’t only put agency leaders in the hot seat — and sometimes out of work. They’ve also highlighted the importance of better risk-management planning by agencies, current and former federal officials told Federal News Radio as part of a special discussion on risk management.
Federal employees now have the right to request a more flexible work schedule and managers must “carefully” consider those requests, President Barack Obama told agency heads in a June 23 memo on expanding workplace flexibility in the federal government. The memo, which coincided with a White House conference on working families, also encourages agency heads to expand flexible workplace policies, such as telework, alternative work schedules and temporary part-time duty “to the maximum extent practicable.”
Boosted by a recovering economy and a booming Wall Street, assets in the Thrift Savings Plan have continued to climb. Since reaching $400 billion in February — the highest amount ever recorded — assets under TSP management grew to more than $412 billion by the end of last month. But as total assets have increased, so have calls to tweak the program that’s provided federal employees with 401(k)-style retirement accounts since 1987. Still, the TSP has consistently resisted calls to modify its simplified, tried-and-true structure.
Congress unanimously passed the Civilian Service Recognition Act in late 2011, allowing agency heads to present an American flag to federal employees killed in the line of duty as the result of a crime, terrorism or natural disaster. But OPM has lagged in implementing regulations.
A new audit from the OPM Inspector General’s office reveals shortcomings in the steps taken by Office of Personnel Management and its contractors to make sure background investigations undergo quality reviews. The audit pointed to a lack of oversight on OPM’s part in making sure contractors actually review cases and said some of the companies that employ case reviewers failed to keep track of records showing the contractors had undergone proper training.
The deadline for the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey is rapidly approaching. Federal employees selected to participate in the survey &dmash; gauging employee morale and views of agency management — have until Friday to complete the survey. As of Tuesday morning, about 330,000 employees have completed the online survey, OPM officials said in a press call with reporters. Another 80,000 or so are still in the process of completing the survey.
The electronic wait system for keeping track of and monitoring initial primary-care appointments for new patients at Veterans Affairs medical facilities is not the only scheduling system at VA that’s now under scrutiny. A separate system for monitoring VA patients’ access to outpatient specialty care — such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists and physical therapists — is also “unreliable,” according to GAO’s Debra Draper, who testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee Monday evening.