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September 22, 2019

Federal Employee Retirement and Benefits News

Category: Dianna Tafazoli

Diana Tafazoli

Diana Tafazoli is a seasoned author at our website and she has been writing compelling commentary in the federal retirement domain for over 5 years now. Such has been the proficiency with which she writes that many deem her to be the finest author in the domain. Her experience and versatility are both wide-ranging.

Visit Diana Tafazoli’s author page to read more of her work.

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SAINT MOTHER TERESA by Dianna Tafazoli

mother teresaThe Vatican is making way for Mother Teresa to become a Saint. Mother Teresa who died in the same week as Lady Diana in 1997 was barely mentioned in many media outlets because her death was competing with Lady Diana’s – the People’s Princess. Mother Teresa, the small woman known as the “Saint of the Gutter” spent her life taking care of the poor and disenfranchised.

Pope Francis announced that Mother Teresa will be canonized next September, 2017. It is said that the Vatican is looking for one more miracle performed by the late Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was from Calcutta and was also known as the Jewel of India. The Church is said to wait about 5 years before they even think about canonization of anyone. It has been well over 5 years since Mother Teresa died. As a matter of fact she, like Lady Diana, has been dead for 18 years. The people of Calcutta have something to look forward to next and so does the world.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

Is it Good or Bad News … or Just News? by Dianna Tafazoli

DIVERSITYFederal employees are always pleased to hear good news that will potentially benefit them and their families.  Whether the fed is new to the workforce or living in retirement, health benefits are one of the most important incentives for becoming a Federal employee.

Gas prices went down over the summer and it appears they are still respectable at this writing without squeezing the purse strings of the average American.  We are still able to drive our vehicles and not leave them in the garage because the cost of gasoline is too high to afford.  I don’t think grocery is getting higher except if you still want to purchase things like blueberries that are now out of season.  The cost of about 20 blueberries in a container will set you back by about $7.00 in the Northern Virginia area.  You could buy frozen berries and just wait until next summer when the berries are more plentiful to avoid the exorbitant cost..

Federal workers don’t have such an easy choice when it comes to the cost of health care –  buy it now or wait until next summer.  The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that  premiums for health care benefits will rise by an average of 6.4 percent for the 2016 program.  The new category of coverage Self Plus One will be available starting in the 2016 enrollment offering.

Nobody wants to hear of a price hike, but even with the rise in health care benefits for Federal employees, the premiums paid by these workers are the best in the nation because of the size of the group.  Great health care premiums are still affordable for most Federal employees.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

 

 

Green Light a Veteran – by Dianna Tafazoli

VeteranWith Veteran’s Day quickly approaching more and more attention is being placed on Veterans and rightly so.  There is one company that is doing more than just talking about Veterans, Walmart is leading the way in making a difference and highlighting the faces and lives of the men and women who serve their nation in uniform – they are members of the armed services.    Walmart recognizes that there is really no way to identify Veterans when they are out of uniform.  They live and work in our communities and often go unnoticed.  Walmart is asking neighborhoods and the country to green light a Veteran and thank them for their service to the country.  The phrase Green Light was chosen because almost every where a green light means GO.

Walmart hired its 100,000th Vet in October as part of its commitment to  hire  250,000 Veterans by 2020.  Walmart has also set-aside $20 million dollars to assist organizations that provide services and programs to assist Veterans in job placement and the education needed to achieve the careers they desire.  Walmart is not simply Green Lighting a Veteran on November 11, 2015- Veteran’s Day- but has demonstrated a commitment to recognize Veterans for their contributions and service, by putting forth effort and dollars to make sure we give back to our brave men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

So on this Veteran’s Day Green Light a Vet and let that green light signal your efforts to GO the distance every day to make the life of a Veteran and his/her family easier.  They deserve it.  GO – GREEN LIGHT- a Vet.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

 

More Related Article

THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DESERVE MUCH APPLAUSE- Dianna Tafazoli

Survey Time by Dianna Tafazoli

Honoring the U.S. Commitment to Veterans by Dianna Tafazoli

IS THE MIDDLE CLASS EXTINCT by Dianna Tafazoli

Families in America today are either poor or rich

middle classThe Middle Class is very close to becoming extinct according to the PEW Institute. For more than four decades the Institute has never seen the current dynamics of our society. There appears to be only two classes of people in the country from an economic standpoint – the rich and the poor. The Middle Class – a long time determinant of the way in which the economy functioned has dwindled to the point of almost being a nonentity.

Families in America today are either poor or rich. The question is how did we get there? It is not a new phenomenon, yet one we hoped had disappeared as economic conditions from World War II and the Great Depression dissipated as more and more men took jobs in the Federal service.

While the pay was not all that great having a job in the Federal Government meant stability and health benefits for workers and their families. Individuals went to work for 30 years and retired with a pension, which also culminated in most instances with the retirement of a 30-year mortgage. A 30 year mortgage was taken care of with a job that lasted 30 years. Consistent employment is what creates financial stability and it is also what helped to create the Middle Class.

The surge in unemployment and the housing crisis that impacted families from all over the country were the beginning of the erosion of the Middle Class. Poor people generally don’t own homes and although there are surely the working poor, many people are poor because they are unemployed and living off of meager assistance from the state or nothing at all. The Middle Class is predicated perhaps more on the ebbs and flows of the economy than the rich or the poor. The poor will always be with us and it appears that the same statement is true for the rich. The Middle Class will only be with us if they can stay consistently employed. They don’t often have trust funds and they can’t blow dust off of old money.

P.S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

POLITICS TAKE CONTROL OF THE NATION by Dianna Tafazoli

Politics Take Over

politicsThis is the time of the year when we are usually rushing around to see how to make Christmas happy for the ones we love. There are also deadlines to meet like signing up for Medicare and making the best out of your benefits by using your flexible spending account (FSA) and for many putting in your paper work for retirement.

Those subjects are effectively erased from the media blitz to make room for the next polling data. This time NBC News and the Wall Street Journal conducted a poll from December 6 – 9 to see how the presidential hopefuls would fair if an election was held. The poll had a 3.36 percent plus or minus error rate and had participation from 1000 adults.

The poll revealed that Hillary Clinton was surely the front runner on the Democratic side more than edging out Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. However, although she would send Donald Trump packing she might lose to Marco Rubio and Ben Carson. Former Governor of Maryland – Martin O’Malley is barely registering in the polls. There was no mention of Jeb Bush and a blurb about Cruz. What does it all mean? A good guess would be that Christmas is only about week and a half away so if you haven’t found something wonderful to make the people you love happy, chances are your poll numbers won’t be very high.

P.S.   Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

WHY NOT RETIRE HEALTHY – by Dianna Tafazoli

Why Not Retire Healthy?

retire healthyA recent Mayo Clinic proceeding headed by Dr. Carl J. Lavie, Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans asserted that lower doses of running may be the perfect recipe for keeping the heart healthy. He further intimated that people who run five or six miles per week improve their health and retire healthy.

Dr. Lavie revealed that runners generally weigh less and therefore are far less prone to obesity than people who jogged fewer than five miles per week or not all. The runners were less likely to experience diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, strokes, diabetes and certain cancers.

Dr. Lavie commented that one to two runs per week at three to six miles per week but less than an hour supports heart health. However, Dr. Lavie further commented that running 20 to 30 minutes or about a mile and a half to three miles twice per week should be near perfect. In order for federal workers to enjoy their retirement years given  American are living longer, it would be wise to read over Dr. Lavie’s report with people you trust and think about paying closer attention to the conversations our bodies are trying to have with us.

It is estimated that people are living longer and could easily live another 20-30 years in retirement to include Federal and Postal workers. That’s good news if we start now strengthening the heart muscle by giving it just the right dosage of common sense exercise, we should be on track to capture those 20-30 years in retirement and retire healthy. What’s retirement without good health so that you can enjoy it?

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

 

 

 

BEST CITIES TO LIVE IN – by Dianna Tafazoli

best cities

Alexandria is one of the best cities!

Federal employees have lots of decisions to make when it comes to retirement.  They must make sure their benefits align with their needs in retirement.  They look for safety and security not only relevant to whether they will have enough money in retirement but where they will live for safety and peace of mind.  A study conducted by 24/7 Wall Street, LLC, a Delaware Corporation that runs financial news and opinions surveyed 550 U.S. cities with populations of 65,000 or more as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine America’s Best Cities to Live In.

The survey looked at crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants and attractions, educational attainment and housing affordability.  Federal retirees are often the victims of scams and other crimes due to the perception that Federal workers make good salaries and therefore have good retirement checks.  Federal employees make up the largest population of retirees in the country and by the same token represent the most vulnerable group for scams and crimes.

The survey chose Alexandria, Virginia as the best place to live based on the metrics selected by 24/7 Wall Street.  Some years back in another survey not conducted by 24/7 Wall Street, Alexandria was chosen as the BEST READ city.  The city of Alexandria is doing something right it seems.  By the way, another city within the Washington Metropolitan Area made up of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, was among the Best Places to live – Gaithersburg.  Congratulations to the States of Virginia and Maryland for making the list.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES – ARE YOU READY FOR OPEN SEASON

open season

There are two Open Seasons going on almost simultaneously – Medicare and Federal Employees Health Benefits.  Don’t get refused – Medicare Open Season runs from October 15 – December 7, 2015.  Federal Health Benefits Open Season run from November 9 – December 14, 2015.  Many Federal employees will participate in both Open Seasons.   They will need to know what their plans offer and what they are looking for to satisfy their health care needs.

While a Federal employee is still working the FEHB plan will generally be their primary coverage until they retire.  If there is spousal coverage on a job, then the spousal plan will generally be the primary until both spouses are retired.  In essence, Medicare generally becomes the primary after retirement.  If you miss applying for Medicare at the first opportunity for eligibility and you are not still employed you might suffer a 10 percent penalty when you do apply.

There are many types of Medicare plans available.  However, many Federal employees will automatically be enrolled in Medicare if they were Federal employees in 1983.  All other applicants will generally have to apply for Medicare.  Medicare Part A is available at no cost if you or your spouse have worked under a Medicare covered employment.  If you don’t qualify for what is termed ‘Free Medicare – Part A’ you can still contact Medicare to see what the cost might be to you and how to apply.

Medicare Part B carries a premium and the premium varies based on income with an adjustment being made to the premium annually.  It is recommended to Federal employees when enrolling in Medicare to keep their Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) plans because the coverage, including prescription drug coverage, is basically equal to or better than any other coverage available.  If you suspend your FEHB to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), you can always go back and pick up your FEHB.  Whether you are participating in Medicare Open Season or Open Season for Federal health plans, be sure to review your plans and examine what your plan covers and what it does not.  Chances are if you are covered under a FEHB plan you are satisfied with, there might be little reason for you to make any changes.  Know what coverage your plan offers and know what your health priorities are and make a decision that best fits the needs of you and your family.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

TIS THE SEASON TO START MAKING WISE CHOICES

Calling all Federal workers – bells are ringing for Open Season.

open seasonEach year Federal workers have the opportunity to review their health care plan to determine if they are satisfied with the plan they have or if they need to make changes.  There may be many reasons for making a change – marriage, the birth of a child, adoption, the death of a qualifying family member or because health care needs may change calling for a different health plan.  Whatever the reason workers should be ready to carefully evaluate what plan will best answer their needs and those of their family members.

In the case where both spouses work for the Federal Government, it might be worth the effort to assess the cost of plans carried individually as opposed to Self and Family when there are only two people involved.  Looking at Self Only and Self Plus One is worth a careful analysis.  The same kind of evaluation is needed when there is an enrollee and a child.  In these instances, the higher cost of Self and Family can be replaced with the Self Plus One option.

Whatever the choice, Open Season begins November 9, 2015 and runs through December 14, 2015, giving Federal workers all the time needed to review their current plan and the associated costs against competing plans that may or may not be suited for their health care needs.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES 251,000 NEW JOBS IN OCTOBER

department of laborGreat news for the economy.

  The Department of Labor (DOL) announced 251,000 new jobs were added to the employment rolls of the country in October.

The Department of Labor announced over 250,000 jobs were added in October. The giant retailer Walmart might just deserve a gold star for boosting those numbers.  In October Walmart hired its 100,000th Vet probably leaving the country as whole only responsible for 151,000 new jobs.  We hope those numbers on both ends are not false positives due to the season we are entering – Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Employers tend to bring on additional workers during the holiday season to help out with the rush of customers anticipated to spend their money on gifts and other entertainment.  If these numbers are indeed seasonal statistics, what happens to these great numbers when we put the turkeys back in the freezer and take down the Christmas stockings?   These seasonal workers will still need jobs and maybe just somewhere at Walmart or some other employment site there will be work to be done.

I think we can depend on Walmart to employ Veterans for more than just a season.  From every indication, it appears that Walmart is championing the cause of men and women who have served their country as members of the armed forces.

Hiring managers from Walmart were interviewed on local stations around the Washington Metropolitan area on Veterans Day and the entire conversation was about hiring Veterans and honoring them for what they have done for their country.  Walmart is investing in the future by opening doors of opportunity for the brave men and women who sacrifice to keep our borders safe.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

OBAMA PAVES THE WAY TO FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT FOR EX-OFFENDERS

Obama federal employment

PRESIDENT OBAMA PAVES THE WAY TO FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT FOR EX-OFFENDERS

There are a number of changes that need to be made in employment laws to get American citizens back to work.  The country underwent one of the worst economic disasters in the modern era that took center stage around 2008.  The economic debacle had been a volcanic eruption just waiting to happen and then we saw the explosion around the country and across the globe.

The ailing economy left many citizens out of work for long periods of time, many people lost their homes and had their lives turned up-side-down.  Their credit was ruined and for most employment, a bad credit evaluation means no job in the United States.  It is an oxymoron that makes as much sense as saying you are pregnant but you cannot have the baby until the new maternity ward is renovated.  Guess what – baby is on its way right about now – like it or not.  Well bad credit or not, people still need to eat, provide a roof over their family’s head and go about living.

We haven’t heard much about a push to correct that bad policy call but the President did decide that ex-offenders who had paid their debt to society need not continue to be punished by being denied employment.  It makes perfect sense because why let the prisoner out of prison located at a certain address when his society becomes his prison, judge and jury – a sort of government sanctioned double jeopardy.  No matter how hard I try  I cannot get a job because I have a record and without a job I cannot pay for a place to live or put food on the table.  Might this scenario be the reason for the high incidence of recidivism?

I applaud the President’s courageous stand to ask the Federal government to ease the door open for ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society according to the laws of our land and be hired as members of the Federal workforce.  Mr. President could you ask the Federal government to leave some room in the doorway to allow individuals with not good credit to get hired in the Federal service so that they can rebuild their lives?  After all, Timothy Geithner owed income taxes when he was hired as Secretary of Treasury, a position he held from 2009-2013 and credit didn’t seem to get in his way of having a great Federal job.  Then G. Gordon Liddy who served 52 months in prison – an ex-offender had a number of great paying jobs including Radio Talk Show Host from approximately 1992- 2013.

Given those facts, just as an illustration, I think it would be a grand idea to give just common folks a second chance.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DESERVE MUCH APPLAUSE

THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION DESERVE MUCH APPLAUSE – by Dianna Tafazoli

veteransThere has been a push in this country for quite some time now to hire the disabled and give them a fair and equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills and make much needed contributions to society. The disabled have always been a part of our society and we have seen times when the disabled were relegated to the basements of society, ostracized leaving them to depend on the largess of family and friends.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public accommodation, transportation, communications and governmental activities. The number of disabled people has increased dramatically due to two wars – Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of young men and women who came home disabled from those two wars required the country to become more vigilant in its push to promote and support the hiring of disabled people.

Disabled people are not shadows in the dark. They are not the unknown. They are the men and women who have made great sacrifices to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America. They have lost life and limb to keep the rest of us safe. The Federal Government is the largest employer in the United States and many disabled persons are a part of the federal workforce.   It is an effort to be applauded when the Federal Government leads the charge to hire the disabled.

Recently, a report came out that highlighted the federal agency that employed the greatest number of disabled personnel. The agency earning that coveted distinction is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).   There are countless young Veterans who have come home with injuries ranging from moderate to severe with many still able to perform a job function. They are a part of the disabled population who are capable of making significant contributions to the American workforce.

Diversity in the workforce includes hiring the disabled. The VA is doing a good job in hiring the disabled in the Federal government. The VA hired 6,680 employees under the All Disability category of employment which represents 23.6 percent of its workforce.  Although the numbers are impressive and are to be applauded, the Federal government must do more to include disabled people as part of its diversity efforts.   Many Federal agencies failed to hire even a single disabled person during 2014. If the Federal government does not set the example to hire the disabled in all Federal agencies then what message is being sent to employers everywhere?  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

BACKGROUND CHECKS ARE NOT EQUAL by Dianna Tafazoli

Background Checks Are Not Equal

The Federal Government continues to lose many of its workers via retirement and are more and more dependent on contractors to fill the gaps.  Contractors are not actual Federal workers and operate by a different set of rules when it comes to benefits and certain other provisions such as leave.  The Federal Government generally conducts background checks on potential employees for various levels of security clearances.

Since the Federal Government is using outside vendors at a much greater rate than in previous years, human resources personnel must become better acquainted with background check laws of different states.  Vendors that contract with the government come from all over and they also employ workers from various venues.  This calls for a basic knowledge or familiarity of how background checks work in different states.

Individuals working in certain professions are required to have background checks particularly those working with children and medical workers.  There are states that prohibit credit checks for potential employees – Nevada, Vermont, California, Illinois, Connecticut and Colorado.  Many other states are joining these states as more and more citizens push against being denied a job because of credit checks particularly given the impact of the recession.  Layoffs were rampant and companies closed down during the economic down-turn in the country leaving many workers without jobs or under-employed up until now.

Other states like Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island and Hawaii allow credit checks but generally after a conditional offer of employment has been made; thus disclaiming that the refusal to hire was based on the credit check.  Some states attempt to do medical background checks but the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits medical inquiries before a conditional job offer is made. Different laws are being enacted throughout the country.

P.S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

WHY SHOULD A VETERAN BE HOMELESS – IT MAKES NO SENSE

WHY SHOULD A VETERAN BE HOMELESS – IT MAKES NO SENSE by Dianna Tafazoli

Let’s try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, connect the dots or just make some sense out of the notion that a Veteran is homeless. It might help to define Veteran. Webster defines the word as “One with a long record of service in a particular activity or capacity. One who has been in the armed forces.” That seems a very plausible definition and one easily identified with. Veterans are men and women who have served in some branch of the military. They leave their families and friends for the love of country and commitment to protect its borders from invasions and those who would do harm to the country and its citizens.

That is a huge endeavor and a debt of gratitude is owed to these brave men and women from their country. If this is the case and a premise that makes sense then how can there be such a thing as a homeless Veteran? The reality is that there are homeless Veterans and that reality makes no sense. You go away and serve your country and you come back to your country and find yourself homeless and jobless in the country you have served. The dots don’t connect. The pieces do not fit into the puzzle.

I live in the Washington Metropolitan area and I drive through areas where there are so many boarded up structures that have been that way for more than a few years. Is it that there are no vacancies available in traditional apartments or no houses to rent or even buy? If the occupancy rate is 100% full at all current addresses, then why not fix up the boarded- up buildings observed all over the Metro area? That approach could achieve a number of things – (1) decrease blight preventing neighborhood decay; (2) create homes for homeless veterans; (3) create jobs for those Veterans who are able to work by helping to construct and revamp their own potential living quarters; (4) provide revenue for the city by charging a small amount of rent based on the Veteran’s income in lieu of just accumulating more vacant properties; and (5) begin the long road to eliminating homelessness for Veterans.

The VA understands also that Veterans being homeless does not make sense. Therefore, the VA has joined forces with communities and non-profits to create partnerships that serve the needs of homeless Veterans. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA, along with the VA have committed in total $20.8 million dollars to address the homeless issue for Veterans, $4 million and $12.8 million dollars respectively. The VA is also partnering with other community organizations to provide job training and other services important to empowering Veterans. Whether a Veteran has a job or money should not deter his or her ability and right to have a suitable roof over their head. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

WHO NEEDS PAID SICK LEAVE by Dianna Tafazoli

WHO NEEDS PAID SICK LEAVE

SICK LEAVEOne of the attractions for working in the Federal government is the terrific benefits.  There is a generous annual (vacation) leave allowance based on years of service and also sick leave to assist workers with taking care of their health as well as the health of their family members.  However, as the Federal workforce dwindles due to retirement, the workforce is being augmented by contractors.  Contractors play a vital role in carrying out the business of the United States government and yet they are people with families who have the same kinds of needs as the regular workforce.

Although contractors and regular employees needs are the same benefits to contractors are not the same.  If a contractor had to take time off, there was no pay and no provisions for sick leave.  Contractors work and get paid for the work they do when they are actually working with no   consideration for the need to be absent from work.  Such a situation is very taxing for contractors and their families offering them no security.

The President of the United States saw the situation as not being ideal and issued an Executive Order on Labor Day requiring paid sick leave for all Federal contract employees.  The provisions included not only Federal contract employees but subcontract employees as well.  The number of employees who are impacted by ”no paid” sick leave is in the hundred thousands.  The President’s issuance of the Executive Order may also improve the government’s recruitment of valuable contract worker.

P. S.   Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

THE VERDICT IS STILL OUT ON PHASED RETIREMENT by Dianna Tafazoli

THE VERDICT IS STILL OUT ON PHASED RETIREMENT

I have kept an open ear about the life and death of Phased Retirement.  I don’t think all of its provisions are fully understood, at least not yet.  There are still some cracks and crevices to be filled by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  Employees have voiced that managers have too much leverage and employees not enough when it comes to who can participate in phased retirement.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) took up the banner for its members and requested OPM construct a system that would give employees the right to appeal a decision made by authorized agency officials.  The regulation currently states that in order for an employee to participate in Phased Retirement or return to regular employment with the Federal government, an authorized agency official must give written approval.  Whatever decision is made, the employee has no appeals rights.

There are a number of provisions that either include or preclude employee participation in the program.  One of the issues cited by the NTEU is that it appears that those persons eligible for immediate retirement both under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employee Retirement Systems (FERS) with certain age and tenure requirements are the only group pretty much guaranteed participation.  However, the NTEU asserts that OPM fails to recognize immediate retirement eligibility for those employees with five years of service and are age 62.

The NTEU has been very thorough in its review of the Phased Retirement regulation citing a number of critical elements such as participation by CSRS-Offset employees and how their annuity and Social Security offset would be handled.  The NTEU has urged OPM to consider a number of measures and amendments to make Phase Retirement a program that not only offers continuity of subject matter expertise by holding on to seasoned employees but an equal benefit to the employees as well.  Perhaps the first benefit could be allowing employees greater say in whether they can participate in the program or not.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

ELDER CARE – IS ON THE RISE by Dianna Tafazoli

ELDER CARE – IS ON THE RISE

insurance,As the Federal workforce ages there is more and more of a focus on Elder Care.  We are witnessing the first generation of children who are retiring and their parents are still alive.  It is almost like two sets of senior citizens but at different times and of course with different needs.  But what it really means is that as Federal employees retire they are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of their elderly parents and family members.  Americans are living longer today because the nation as a whole is more in tune to addressing and managing their health.  More and more Americans also have access to health care through employer-sponsored insurance, state-sponsored programs and the country’s effort to bring quality health care to all Americans.

It seems that there is always a catch-22.  We live longer and then because we are living longer we generally experience health conditions that come as result of aging and then we need someone to take care of us when we cannot do for ourselves – Elder Care.  The Federal Government has a number of workplace flexibilities in place intended to assist Federal workers in taking care of the new array of problems encountered by an aging society.

Policies on flexibilities put in place by the Federal Government allow workers time off to provide care to elderly parents and other family members.  The Office of Personnel Management has provided a handbook to educate employees and provide assistance to those employees who are providing elder care to family members.  Federal employees do a tremendous job in providing a vast array of services to the American public.  In order to keep the workforce ready to uphold their public responsibilities, it is imperative that the Federal government lends its workers a helping hand when it comes to caring for the needs of their own families.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

WASHINGTON’S SUBWAY SYSTEM AND THE FEDERAL RIDERSHIP

WASHINGTON’S SUBWAY SYSTEM AND THE FEDERAL RIDERSHIP

The subway system in the Washington Metro Area has its share of problems that range from the mundane to the top news story of the day.  The system is aging and in need of major repairs.  The ridership is probably what you would expect from a city that houses the seat of our national government -the home of the President of the United States, the Congress, and also where the majority of Federal agencies reside bringing in workers from the District, Maryland, Virginia and various other states across the country.

It was hoped that the subway system would reduce the number of cars on the roads and highways of the Washington Metro area.  However, the traffic jams are some of the worst in the nation which raises the question – who is using the subway?  Apparently, there are lots of federal workers who  depend on the subway system to get them back and forth from their civil service jobs.  The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia are partners in trying to make the subway system user friendly by extending services to other commuting areas within the tri-state area that were not a part of the original red, blue and orange lines.  The blue line, the orange, the red line, the green line, the purple and silver lines currently make up the metro subway system.

With the subway system expanding, the news is that as federal employees continue to leave the Federal Government due to retirement, the ridership for the metro is dwindling because Federal employees being the largest workforce in the county, makes up the majority population of those using the subway.  It might have been a good idea for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to have a conversation with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to forecast who would be taking the metro and who made up the greatest ridership.  The mass exodus of Federal employees due to retirement could raise some serious concerns for metro and the expansion of the system.  Entities who need to talk in Washington usually don’t realize that they need to talk until the damage has been down.  The subway system is expanding and more and more Federal workers are retiring and fewer and fewer job applicants have interest in the Federal Government.  We don’t know what the future holds for WMATA, but it just might be that there will be a lot of trains traveling on the red, blue, orange, purple and silver lines with a lot of empty seats.

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

MORE HACKING – MAYBE ANOTHER OPM DIRECTOR – by Dianna Tafazoli

MORE HACKING – MAYBE ANOTHER OPM DIRECTOR

Now that Katherine Archuleta, former Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), has left the premises and Beth Cobert has taken the helms, is personnel data for Federal active employees, retirees and their families any safer?   Virginia Senator Mark Warner called for Archuleta’s resignation citing that the agency was broken. Under extreme pressure and lack of confidence in her ability to manage one of the most important aspects of her job, privacy and security of employee records, Archuleta resigned from her post at OPM in July.

Cobert who comes from the White House Office of Management and Budget and has worked as a consultant for McKinsey and Company for more than three decades with its global presence in industries from Advanced Electronics to Sustainability and Resource Productivity still begs to answer, will she be able to put strategies in place to stop cyber attacks and assure Federal employees and their families that their critical information is safeguarded?

There are lots of questions to be asked, one being should the Director of OPM be responsible for cyber security and policing hackers.  The Director of OPM has responsibility for safeguarding the personnel records of all government employees and their families.  That is bold statement,  but in actually, is it really feasible under the present structure of the OPM to expect the Director to fix security problems that exist throughout government.  OPM is not the only Federal agency who has had data security breaches but it is the only agency charged with personnel oversight for the entire Federal workforce and there in lies the difference and where the real responsibility for privacy and security comes into play to protect the workforce.

Letters are still going out to Federal employees under the direction of the new head of OPM providing three years of services to victims of cybercrime.  The OPM data security breach was the largest cybercrime ever against our national government impacting some 21.5 millions individuals and their families.  The services are provided to the victims at no cost whose Social Security numbers and other sensitive information were imperiled as a part of government background investigations conducted to assess employment suitability of individuals seeking work in the Federal service.

Will Beth Cobert be able to protect the Federal workforce from cybercrimes or will the Senate ask for another OPM’s Director’s head if it happens again.  The game in Washington and called – Wait and See.

P.S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know

Dianna Tafazoli

 

REMEMBER WHEN DIVERSITY WAS THE NEW WORD – by Dianna Tafazoli

REMEMBER WHEN DIVERSITY WAS THE NEW WORD?

DIVERSITYIn the American workforce it is par-for-the-course to come up with new words. Some words hang around and some get lost after a few months or so. I recall when the word DIVERSTY first took center stage there were very eloquent statements written about the word.  The most memorable statement I recall – “Diversity is not only a business objective but a business imperative.”  I think the statement is still eloquent but I am not sure how powerful or impactful the statement was or is.

Just what is diversity?  Webster defines diversity as “The fact or quality of being diverse: Difference.   So are we looking for difference in the workplace and if we are what kind of difference are we looking for?  Is it in our thinking, our approach to doing the job, the color of our skin, the color of our hair, the color of our eyes or the neighborhood we live in or the food we eat?  If we could get a handle on what kind of difference we are looking for then perhaps we could start to do something about it.

The truth of the matter is diversity is more than the Webster definition.  In the world of human resources and the American workforce the word DIVERSITY is multilayered, multidimensional and multidefinitional, if you will.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has all Federal agencies respond annually to the directives of the Management Directive 715 commonly known as the MD-715 which in essence directs agencies in eliminating or mitigating barriers to equal opportunity and equal access to hiring, promotional opportunities and all other activities related to employment equity.

The question of diversity or the lack thereof in many Federal agencies is a looming one and the question mark is quite pronounced when it comes to why positions are not filled by minorities, including women, at the higher compensation and responsibility levels of the Federal workforce.  The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is reported to have some rather serious diversity challenges.  Remember the statement was made earlier in the article that diversity was often spoken of in a very eloquent manner with very moving prose.  Every agency states that it is committed to diversity. You could not write something contrary to that statement, but you could act contrary to the statement by not promoting diversity via hiring and recruit outreach efforts to minority servicing organizations including colleges and universities.

The CIA does not understand why they are challenged by diversity issues but do acknowledge according to a study, The Diversity in Leadership  issued in June of 2015, that gave a very scathing review of the agency ranging from outright prejudice to withholding opportunities that would advance certain minorities.  The CIA Director, John Brennan states that he is determined to cast a new light on the agency’s image by making changes.  Again, could a statement to the contrary be made.  Of course, not.

The focus of this article is not on the CIA, but on DIVERSITY a word that seems to having staying power, but we have yet to demonstrate in the American workforce the true merit of diversity and why it really is a business imperative whether we like it or not.  The world we live in today will force diversity on the work world whether we move with the force or not.  The CIA Diversity in Leadership study is no more than a call to serious and lasting action by every Federal agency, the Federal Government, the largest employer in the country.

Lincoln said it best. ” We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves.  No personal significance, or insignificance can spare one or another of us.  The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”

P. S.  Always Remember to Share What You Know.

Dianna Tafazoli

Not affiliated with The United States Office of Personnel Management or any government agency