America’s Largest Federal Employees’ Union Renders Support to Maggie Hassan/by Jeff Boettcher
The largest union of federal employees in America has decided to support Maggie Hassan in her race for joining the U.S. Senate. It is believed that she is getting the support because she would represent the interest of federal workers if and when he joins the Senate. The top members of the union think that she will help in bringing in some much-needed changes.
The Announcement Made by America’s Largest Federal Employees’ Union
The American Federation of Government Employees is the largest federal employees’ union that represents over 670,000 workers. The Union recently released a press release in which it was announced that they endorse the Gov. of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan in her race for being a part of the U.S. Senate. Hassan was chosen as the governor in the year 2012. She has also served as a member of the New Hampshire State Senate.
The union believes that she will be an advocate for protecting the interests of not only federal employees but the working people spread across the nation. This statement was issued by J. David Cox Sr. who is serving as the AFGE National President. He also added that she believes in the creation of good paying jobs in the U.S. and she wishes to close all the loopholes that allow the local businesses to outsource the jobs to other nations.
He said that she wants to boost the amount of minimum wage and would be willing to stand against cuts to medicare, social security and many other federal programs and services that are crucial for the employees.
The Vice President of the union for the 2nd District Vincent Castellano also demonstrated support for Hassan by saying that she supports all the public sector workers. She will be able to do various tasks like taking care of U.S. workers at home or in other nations, teaching the children, protecting the environment, building and maintaining the infrastructure, delivering the services expected & deserved by taxpayers and caring for the veterans.
Castellano further stated that Hassan sincerely believes in the fact that all the federal employees deserve a meaningful pay after spending years in dealing with issues like frozen wages and benefit cuts. He added that she will fight all the attempts to cut the benefits related to retirement, health care, etc. further in the future.
US Government indebted more than you think/by Matt Pierce
We might think we know the extent to which our country is indebted but we might be wrong. Some critics of the spending that the government ends up doing believe that the government owes more than the total GDP or the gross domestic product of the country; approximately 103 percent. The same measurement is employed by the people who are responsible for the running of the debt clock of the country and is also present on the House financial Services committee website that’s run by the Republicans.
US government indebted more than you know:
Some people are naïve and they believe that the indebtedness is not that scary. They refer to a figure around 74 which is the total debt that’s in the responsibility of the public. This definitely is not inclusive of the debt that is owned by the federal government itself. Social security trust fund is one example of such debt. This is because many people believe that if the government owes the money to itself, then it’s not really indebted but that’s certainly not the case.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently made an analysis which indicated that people regardless of their school of thoughts need to be worried about the way the government is continually spending more than it generates. They have released reports that indicate that there is gloom. A final result from their findings after taking into account different debts including the Medicare and pension funds, we get a staggering 288 percent of GDP.
While these figures are really eye-openers for every American dweller, as concerned citizens all we can really do is hope that the government realizes that this continuous overspending is not going to bode well for the economy in the longer run and serious steps need to be taken in this regard.
Clinton vs Sanders. What both are promising/by Matt Pierce
Politicians have a habit of making promises that they show the urge of fulfilling once they win the elections. More often than not, they can’t come good on the promises; well at-least not all of them. Let’s analyse some of the promises made by candidate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders that they plan to make good if they win:
Clinton has been around the federal government long enough for us to know all about her. Unlike Bernie Sanders, her immediate opponent who is the independent Senator from the city of Vermont, everybody in the federal community is familiar with Clinton.
Ms Hillary Clinton has always been one for making promises. She recently said to a union audience that she would make sure that she cuts around 500 thousand private contracting jobs during the first year of her presidential tenure. Although she didn’t mention that what the replacements would look like and whether there would be new federal employees involved or not. She also has showed open approval of giving the federal employees the paid parental leave luxury. The President has also taken steps in this regard.
Clinton has also been supportive of the gay, transgendered, bi-sexual and lesbian federal employees when she was part of the state department. Even though some recent email revelations indicate that her support wasn’t heart-felt.
Not many knew about Mr Sanders when he started his campaign. We all know him now as the candidate who is running for the Democratic party and who doesn’t sound like he learnt to speak English in Vermont.
Sanders has promised a lot of stuff too. He wants the postal service visits to continue for 6 days during a week. He has also worked against the proposals that have been aimed at lowering the inflation calculation for the annuities of the retirees. Apart from this, he has also taken some other steps that indicate that he is a man of calibre.
Longer Probation Periods for New-Hire Federal Employees/by Tamila McDonald
The Government Manager’s Coalition (GMC) and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) have jointly sent a letter to congress to lengthen probationary periods for new-hires in the federal service to better reflect the realities of the modern workplace.
Current Probationary Period
At present, new-hires are given an automatic 12 month probationary period that his inclusive of any training time. It is a straight 12 months from the date of hire. This period is supposed to allow managers and supervisors provide an adequate assessment of the employee’s ability in the position. It also ensures that employees within that 12 month period that fail to live up to expectations can be terminated much easier than the more formalized process that protects most federal employees. After the employee reaches the first day after 12 months they fall into the more protective status whether they have received an adequate assessment or not.
GMC and NARFE both agree that the current one-size system does not fit the complex realities of the current workplace. All positions are not equal and as such although many positions may only have 2-4 weeks training, some more complex departments and positions can have 2-3 month training regimens in order to fully bring a new-hire up to speed. This leaves many agencies only 9 months to assess the potential of new-hires and less if you consider it generally can take up to 1 month to properly evaluate new-hires.
The Problem is Real
Many Managers find themselves in a position to have to make a “gut” call on employees without a true evaluation process with enough time to truly flesh out these new employees. Worst, there are a number of agencies that have been unable to make the deadline for review and those new-hires, when the twelve months is up. This places an unfair burden on the employee to perform and the manager to make final decisions with minor observation and guess work. The request comes on the heels of a GAO report outlining the issues with probationary periods and its resultant substandard employees that get into federal service simply because their probationary periods have lapsed.
The letter requests that Congress look at the matter in their next session that starts January 12, 2016. One of the major changes being proposed is that training not be included in the twelve months of probation. Any position that has less than 1 month of training would remain at a twelve month probationary period. However, positions that have longer than a month training would in effect extend the probationary period by the number of weeks past the one month. For example if there were 7 weeks of training in a position, 3 weeks would be added to the probationary period making it 12 months and 3 weeks long. In this manner it gives managers a minimum of 11 months to properly evaluate and assess employees.
Secondly, the groups propose that managers have to actually certify an employee before their probation ends in order to put an end to auto-enrolled new-hires that simply go past 365 days without a formal review. This puts the onus on employees to get evaluated and ensures only the best employees in federal service.
Unfortunately, NARFE may see this backfire as they struggle to maintain their representation across older established workers and younger ones just getting into service.
Federal government advised to establish a Zika Protection Plan/by Matt Pierce
Check Schumer who is a New York based US senator is of the view point that the Americans need to be very concerned about the Zika virus and has urged the federal government to take the mater very seriously and subsequently launch a plan in the bid to contain it.
Form a plan to contain the Zika Virus, says Schumer
Already around 5 people in New York and around 30 in many other states have been infected, early reports indicate. Many health experts have said that the virus finds its origins in South America and the culprit for its transmission is allegedly the Asian Tiger mosquito, Schumer still believes that the virus won’t have many problems in spreading across the country. He backed this argument by saying that the specific mosquito is indigenous in the US.
He further said that if there isn’t a protective plan launched by the government, the outbreak could happens as soon as the coming summer. The “three point plan” proposed by the Senator is what he believes will fight the virus with full force. He has urged the government to formulate the plan before we reach the summer months and to start the vaccination process preferably by the end of the year.
While the Senator is only talking sense, the initiatives that he expects the federal government to take aren’t likely to be undertaken in the near future. Many reports do indicate that the virus can prove to be a big threat to the country and we hope that the authorities look in to the matter before it develops into something that can’t be contained. The protective plan proposed by Check Schumer could go a long way in ensuring the safety and good health of millions of Americans across the country and should be given immediate attention.
OPM has urged agencies to restrain from borrowing/by Jeff Boettcher
The Obama Government is all set to commence within a year and the Office of Personnel management aka OPM has urged all the agencies of the current policies to stop political appointees from borrowing their way in to positions. This was made evident by the Acting Director Beth Cobert.
OPM urges agencies to not borrow:
OPM will, under the contemporary procedure make sure that it considers applications submitted by all the people who have held political positions in the last five years and intend to continue operating as a career appointee. These policies are as old as the Carter administration and OPM revised its policy in 2010 when it opted to conduct some reviews before hiring on a continued basis rather than before a presidential transition only.
Cobert also mentioned to the agencies that the department will also continue to review the applications for all the appointees of a non-career nature who intend to become a part of the SES (Senior Executive service) before the applicant decides to formally appear before the Review Board.
The guidance also emphasized the importance and vitality of holding regular meetings with officers and employees. The purpose of these meetings should not only be restricted to making sure that the employees are well-bonded and happy with their workspaces but they should also ensure that the employee’s performance gets evaluated periodically. This will in the longer run mean that the evaluation results don’t come as a surprise to the employee once the real time comes.
While OPM has been dealing with all sorts of predicaments in the recent times, it’s good to see that their stance in this regard is solid and not shaky.
Flint To Be Ordered To Get Lead Pipes Replaced/by Jeff Boettcher
The water contamination scandal that took place in Flint has been among the news for quite some time now. It has also led to a lot of legal actions being taken but this new lawsuit that you are about to know about can be the one the administration would have feared the most about. An advocacy group coalition claim that the Flint officials made a US federal Safe Drinking Water Act violation by making the drinking water source switch. This could entail the ordering of lead pipe infrastructure replacement with immediate effect.
Flint to replace the lead pipes:
Dimple Chaudhary, who is a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said that this urge to make a federal court intervene is justified because the Flint people can’t afford another miscalculation made by the government agencies who effectively paved the road towards infrastructure devastation and the consequent water contamination. Flint resident Melissa Mays, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the ACLU and NRDC formed the coalition that filed the complaint. This lawsuit is different particularly because it’s objective is to introduce the role of federal government and not just earn monetary damage compensations.
Kristi Pullen, who is a scientist at the NRDS explained that Flint has been susceptible to damage particularly because around 40 percent of the total population resides below the poverty line which increases their likeliness to develop health problems. The illiteracy rate is also high and a large percentage of the population comprises of children that are between the ages of 5 and 16; making them more vulnerable to get poisoned by lead. Also, there are a lot of kids in Flint that have approximately tripled their blood lead levels over the past few years. This all amalgamates to form an alarming situation in need of attention.
Earn the maximum amount of money from TSP matching contributions/by Jeff Boettcher
Are you one of those FERS employees that are compensated more than most? And do you also contribute the maximum amount of money to your TSP account every year? There is some good news for you. You can stop losing matching contributions of the government by maxing your TSP out before the year ends.
Earn money from TSP matching contributions:
The government is liable to contribute around 5 percent of your pay check to the TSP after every pay period. Here’s how:
- There is a 1 percent automatic contribution that’s paid even if you are not contributing to your TSP.
- A dollar-for-dollar match applicable on 3 percent of your income that you add after every pay cycle.
- The next 2 percent of your income that you add each pay period will also have a fifty-cent on a dollar match.
So, if you contribute a certain amount of money that’s substantial then you are bound to lose some serious amounts of money to government contributions. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening:
First what you need to do is divide your salary by the number of pay dates and not the pay periods in a year. Normally there are around 26 pay dates. There are some cases when there are 27 days as well but let’s just stick to a 26 day one for this example. If you earn 110 thousand dollars in a year, then you will have to part with 693 dollars after every pay period. This will ensure that you receive around 5 percent government contribution for each of your pay period.
This strategy is of course not applicable to those who don’t earn a lot of money but for those who get compensated a substantial amount, this is certainly something to know about.
Fed might increase interest rates again courtesy job growth/by Jeff Boettcher
There has been a stark increase in the job growth rate in the country and this might end up paving the way for the Federal Reserve to increase the interest rates again. This is a great sign for the economy of the country as it promises to get better.
Job Growth rate to increase the interest rates:
The central bank also increased its rates for the first time in a tenure of over a decade and is probably going to continually increase the rates throughout the year.
The data released in this regard might indicate that there have been 200,000 new jobs added in the country only in the month of December.
The job growth rate is also not confined to one domain or one occupation; there has been significant advancements in almost all the fields of work. Janet Yellen, who is the chairman of the Central bank insists that the bank is going to keep increasing the rates periodically throughout the year.
It’s worth mentioning that the main of the indexes, the S&P 500 ended up at a lower closing rate for the year; economists have said that this is not attributable to the move by the Fed. The federal rates in this regard are also expected to grow with the passage of time.
All in all, the economy is expected to gain more solidarity through the New Year as more and more increases in the rates are being reported. The job growth looks like an ongoing process as well with the government making it abundantly clear that it wants to keep providing people with opportunities to make a profitable living. It’s hoped that whatever transpires through the fiscal year benefits the majority of the population in every way.
For Once the Federal Pays and Benefits Spared By the Budget Deal/by Jeff Boettcher
The budget agreement that is set to last for the next 2 years was presented a few days back and there is some serious good news for the federal employees in that for once, the fed employees’ benefits and incomes have been spared and the debt limit has been raised. A certain amount of relief has also been provided from financial sequestration.
The leadership of the congress in agreement with the White House’s budget details for the coming two years doesn’t currently involve any statements regarding the federal employee force’s financial propaganda. In 2013, the deal forced the feds to pay a lot more towards their pension funds than they did at that time and before 2015, there have been many such instances where the government hires have not been favored.
Apart from this, the budget agreement also allows the approval of laws that would forsake the ability for many retired feds (That fall beneath the civil service retirement system) to absorb increases in medicare. This law dictates that those retired feds that were found guilty of this sequestration would have to pay 54 dollars more in their part B medicare premium accounts every month. This can also be extended to be applicable if there is no COLA for 2017 and the employees that were not “held harmless” will be protected from a substantial monthly insurance amount jump.
In contrast to this, the retired feds that are held harmless will go on and pay the normal 105 dollars (or a little less) every month during the fiscal year 2016. This can be considered a very strong stepping stone in the right direction as it ensures that federal employees don’t always get the last piece of the pie. Here’s hoping that there are no amendments made in these clauses of the proposed budget act.
Do You Know About Federal Government’s Pension Heist?/by Matt Pierce
When banks reach the stage where they can sense a collateral collapse, Congress usually gets them out of their predicament. On the other hand, if the union pension funds approach death, Congress alters the law to let them hurt the retirees. What?
Federal government and the pension heist:
Nothing you knew? Well it’s not just you. Around 410 thousand teamsters who were mainly ex-federal government truck drivers who were told in October whether or not their pension will receive cuts or not. It’s tragic that around 65 percent of all these ex-employees got the red signal. The CSP fund has claimed that it will be making some serious reductions to the amount that goes on the pay checks of these employees by a staggering amount that is close to 23%. Some Union members and activists are claiming that this figure is not authentic and the rates can go as high as 60 percent.
What does this decision entail? More troubles for people who have served the federal government all their lives and received depleted compensations in the hope that they will be getting pensions when they retire. Bills will remain unpaid, collaterals will be lost and what’s the worst part? It’s not their fault and the government is getting greedy.
Another interesting fact in this regard is that it was completely illegal for the government to even think about making pension cuts. It stayed that way until around December 2014 when Congress made some alterations and some exceptions were added. There was no debate in this regard. This law was passed and allowed all the pension plans that are constituted by multiple employers to send their applications to the Treasury department in the hope of reducing benefits. Guess what, that is exactly what the Central states decided to do and their requests got approved.
While the dynamics of this matter still remain unknown and could be diverse, it can but only mean harm to the majority of the truck drivers that already find it hard to make ends meet.
Pay Raises to All Federal Employees Not Just Executives/by Jeff Boettcher
Pay raises need to be given to all federal employees and not just the ones that are already taking most of the money out of the GDP. No human life is collateral and this is what the government needs to take into consideration when it assigns the pay rises to federal employees. The President’s plan to improve the salaries of all the executive position holders of the federal government has failed to encompass the huge pay gap that exists in the departments pertaining to rank-and-file federal officers. The economist of the Obama administration has concluded that currently the private sector officers are making 35 percent more money than the federal officers.
Give pay raises to all Federal Government employees regardless of designation:
This huge pay gap has only increased pertaining to the frozen wages of the past 3 years and the sustained increases seen in the past 2 years. Some employees of the federal government don’t even manage to earn a minimum wage that was ordered by the president. This is really shameful when you consider the other private and local governments to be making excellent amends for their employees and helping them in getting a substantial compensation for their services.
The advisors of the president have repeatedly made recommendations in this regard and have urged him to allow all of the federal employees to get some rises. This entails that all the employees (and not just the executives) get a fair share of pay raise whenever it boils down to that because their sacrifices and their sweat drops are as important to the solidarity of this nation as any other employee. Here’s hoping that this gets altered in the recent future because a nation can’t be fully prosperous if a large demographic is suffering from below-par salaries and wages.
Energy Consumption of federal Government Decreases/by Matt Pierce
Federal Energy Management Program or FEMP is the main program that governs and analyses the energy consumption and usage by major players in the country these days. Recently they have reported that the energy consumption by the federal government of the country has fallen down to 0.94 quadrillion Btu during the fiscal year of 2014. This is the lowest the rate has ever gone since this scheme started, way back in 1975. While there were other factors, the decrease in the US department of defence’s jet fuel consumption can be considered the biggest catalyst in the decline.
Federal government sees energy consumption decline:
78 percent of the total energy used by the federal government was comprising of the energy consumed by the department of defence during the 2014 fiscal year. The US postal, service, the US department of Veterans’ affairs, the US department of energy among other civilian agencies were responsible for the rest of the energy consumption. They accounted for 5 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent respectively.
According to Energy independence act that was passed in 2007, the energy reduction goals for federal agencies included targets for the reduction of energy intensity and the consumption of fossil fuels during the construction of buildings. The reduction of petroleum usage in the transportation of fleets and in the rise of alternative fuels’ usage was also included in the act. During March of this year, a few more goals were added in the urge of reducing the energy consumption.
News like these can only bring smiles on the faces of fellow Americans because with the ever increasing global warming and pollution, the lesser there is waste in the air, the better it’s for the atmosphere. Here’s hoping that these reductions don’t cease to rise and soon we reach the limits that are desirable.
POLITICS TAKE CONTROL OF THE NATION by Dianna Tafazoli/by Dianna Tafazoli
Politics Take Over
This 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.
Construction Spending Beats 8 Year Records/by Jeff Boettcher
The amount of money spent by the government on matters that require immediate initiatives has always been strikingly huge but this year, the spending made by the country on construction has seen stark increases. The construction spending that got instigated by some handsome gains in home building has reached new heights. This year, we also saw the largest rise in the federal construction expenditures from the past 9 years.
Construction spending reaches new heights:
The construction spending, as reported by the Commerce department took a 1 percent rise during the month of October and has since then gotten raised to a gigantic sum of over 1.1 trillion dollars. It was in December 2007 when last we saw such a huge figure. It’s also worth noting that the country was dealing with the great recession at that time.
This rise can boil down to be caused by a lot of things. The single family apartments and homes’ construction saw a 1 percent rise (Which is once again the highest since December of 2007). The federal government construction expenditure also saw around 19 percent rise, which is in fact the heaviest rate of increase seen since October 2006. Apart from this, the manufacturing construction costs also saw a 3 percent rise.
All in all, during the past 12 months, overall the construction spending has seen around 13 percent rise from last year which is something really startling to say the least. Many citizens have started building newer homes and apartments to better their standard of living and this can be credited with making the increase be so gigantic as well.
Las Vegas Judge’s Pension To Be Taken For Victims/by Jeff Boettcher
The Clark county judge Steven Jones was incarcerated in the past few weeks and even though it appeared that the case got closed and the matter was cooled down, it now appears that the federal prosecutors are trying to make sure that the judge’s public pension is going to help pay the money owed to all of the victims that fell a prey to the investment scheme that he had started. Nevada’s PERS has revealed that Mr Jones can attain as much as 10 grand per month after he turns 60 during November of 2017. The public employees retirement system is also trying to make sure that their efforts get felt in the opposition of this move by the federal prosecutors. A report was filed by the agency issuing a formal objection intended to disregard the effort.
PERS’ objection to Jones’ public pension propaganda:
The report issued by PERS advocates the fact that the federal authorities are not legally authorized to be taking away the public pension of the former judge. They say that according to the newly formed pension state laws, they are required to get the permission of the judge in order to be able to do anything of this substance.
Assistant to US Attorney Mark Woolf gave the argument this past week that federal law dictates and allows the government to get access to a defendant’s retirement plans and benefits to make sure that the victims get compensated somehow. His statements made a lot of sense and they also managed to instigate some insurgency in Nevada PERS.
Naturally there was opposition from the other side and this matter is not going to resolve itself anytime soon by the looks of it. Whilst Jones, aged 58 is going to have to serve a 26 month long prison-stay near Bakersfield. This resulted from him getting convicted in the faulty investment scheme. He is expected to get released around April 12, 2017.
Looming Shutdown May be Thwarted by Short-term Spending Bill/by Tamila McDonald
A budget deal looms on the horizon as Congress tries to come up with a compromise before a government shutdown. The House Appropriations Committee suggested a short-term resolution in order to give them more time to come up with a permanent (or more permanent) budget solution. The proposal would give leaders until at least December 16 to put a budget in place before federal employees face another potential shutdown.
Congress Has Time
The Office of Management and Budget representative told reporters “There is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations. However, at this time, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse and OMB is working with agencies to take appropriate action…. It is our hope that this work will ultimately be unnecessary and that there will be no lapse in appropriations.”
Government officials said earlier that they would work hard to ensure that the federal employees did not face a shutdown, but urged lawmakers to step away from bickering and work out a deal. The White House Press Secretary told reporters that the White House was willing to work with lawmakers to prevent a government shutdown.
Secretary Josh Earnest said, “We have been clear that if members of Congress needed an extra day or two in order to pass legislation, that the President would ensure the government didn’t shut down while they were going through the legislative mechanics or a passing a bipartisan budget agreement.”
Earnest continued by telling reporters that some parties are making it more difficult to pass the necessary bills.
“Congress has had ample time to negotiate, and the only thing that is blocking negotiations right now is the insistence on the part of Republicans to use the budgetary process to advance their stalled ideological agenda. I am hopeful, before we reach the deadline, that Republican will abandon that strategy.”
This Bill is Essential
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, told reporters that the short-term spending bill was essential to allow Congress to iron out the spending bill, which totals just over $1 trillion. “We need to get it right. I don’t want us to go home until we get this done.”
The government faced a shutdown at the end of September for the same bill. However, lawmakers were able to delay the shutdown with a deal that provided an operation budget through this week.
Representatives for federal employees spoke out against the government waffling and urged leaders to do right by federal employees.
“Federal employees deserve better than this. American taxpayers deserve better than this,’ National Federation of Federal Employees president William Dougan said. “Putting federal government jobs into funding-limo every few weeks is no way to carry out the business of the American people, and it places an extraordinary amount of financial stress on hundreds of thousands of families across the nation.”
The last government shutdown in 2013 lasted for 16 days and totaled millions of missed days or work and millions of dollars in lost revenue. Following the last shutdown an OBM analysis indicated that a total of 6.6 million days of work were lost and the shutdown cost some $2.5 billion in lost pay and benefits. Nearly 900,000 employees were furloughed in 2013.
More Transparency Desired but the Government Gives a White Flag/by Jeff Boettcher
Government Wants Transparency
“It’s all going to be up in the cloud in some time” is a quote that has been used a lot of times in the recent past and there has been some serious news regarding it recently too. You would probably not be amazed to know that the federal government of the US is taking the required steps and gaining information about moving its services and infrastructure to the cloud. The only issue they have right now (With the abundance of service providers) is the lack of transparency in their dealings and the provision of services. Sometimes when dealing with cloud computing you just have to rely on the computer and expect what it’s telling you to be true but that’s something the government can obviously not live with apparently.
It goes without saying that there is some seriously important data at stake when it comes to the federal government and they have to take each step with increased care. This is a paradigm shift of the highest caliber and the federal government needs to be plainly sure that when their huge data is dumped on to the cloud, whether enhanced security measures will be taken or not.
There are some big names like Microsoft and Amazon that have got state of the art tools that are going to quench all the needs of the government, not most of the cloud providing companies can claim to say the same.
The government has urged these companies to be as transparent as they possibly can but up till now, no credible company has been able to do so.
All in all, this is a step that will require more than a couple of years before it can completely replace the older mode of operations so here is hoping things work out in the best way for the federal employees of America.
The Last of the Government Research Chimpanzees are Retiring/by Jeff Boettcher
The Government is retiring the last of the research Chimpanzees
There have been some chimpanzees used by the government for scientific research purposes but now the National institutes of health has decided to send the final few research animals into federal retirement. These research chimpanzees include some that were present in the Texas facilities. They will be moved to the nearest federal sanctuary as soon as some space is cleared out for them.
This is not something to be surprised of for most of the people as the government had already made such remarks and indicated that one of the closest ancestors to the homo sapiens will cease to be used as research specimens. During 2014, the national institutes of health had announced that soon all the chimps that were serving as lab rats will be retired and this looks like something to do with that announcement.
In the past week, the labs had cleared the chimps and it was said that they are no longer going to be subject to experiments in the lab anymore. The main director of NIH stressed during his last speech that the research on chimps in the world of today is no longer something pragmatic and it’s finally time for us to move on.
The first thing on the mind of the NIH board apparently will be to send the 20 chimpanzees that they currently own to the Chimp haven which is a government owned and funded chimp sanctuary up in Los Angeles. After that more animals are destined to follow and be placed in other sanctuaries that are spread out across the country.
Here’s hoping that steps like these mean an end to the exploitation of these animals and they can finally spend some years without having to abide by the rules formed by the human scientific civilization. Steps like these can only be lauded.
Can Women Crack the Federal Glass Ceiling/by Dianna Tafazoli
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has released information revealing that about a third of managers in the Federal Service are women. That figure compares to only 15% of women in private industry. Although the Feds might outpace female managers in private industry there remains a significant gap between women and men in the upper echelons of government.
The elite cadre of federal employees are those designated as Senior Executive Service (SES) members where the perks and pay are superior to the rest of the Federal service. The glass ceiling remains impenetrable for the majority of women in the Federal service. The SES continues to be dominated by men.
Woman and Federal Service
What is the Federal service doing to change that dynamic? The Veteran’s Administration (VA) commissioned the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to conduct an exhaustive study in 2008 to look at the issue of diversity and inclusion. How to diversify the top levels of government from an all-white male presence to a picture that resembles the demographics of the nation continues to be one of the government’s greatest challenges.
Perhaps OPM will get rid of the age-old path to the SES level – responding to Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and Technical Qualifications (TQs). Granted effective writing and oral communication skills are essential in any profession, government must look to other ways to change the face of career SES.
The SES is not the only area of government with an impenetrable glass ceiling, but grade levels above the GS-13 are also not representative of the demographics of the nation. Women and minorities face difficult challenges trying to reach the level of a GS-15. If something is not done at the GS-15 level to increase the presence of women and minorities, getting to the SES will be a virtual impossibility. The Federal Government’s personnel policies and guidelines generally require that one has functioned at the grade level immediately below the grade where they are seeking a promotion. If you want to achieve the rank of a GS-13 you must have held a position equivalent to the GS-12 level.
Many of the federal hiring and promotion policies and procedures are outdated and fail to give fair and equal opportunities to the masses. The Federal Government continues to push for diversity and inclusion, yet it remains an entity that seemingly has blinders on when it comes to making that goal a realty. As mentioned previously, the VA’s study was exhaustive. It would be interesting to compare the demographics of the VA workforce today to what it was in 2008 when the study was commissioned.
Federal Agency Diversity Goals
What happens to agencies when they don’t meet diversity and inclusion goals. Obviously not much, because diversity and inclusion goals are still not being met all over the Federal Government. Diversity and inclusion goals are not being met across the country in both the private and public sectors. Not reaching diversity and inclusion goals is simply a matter of not knowing how to do it. Training is not appropriate and personnel specialists, directors and even Chief Human Capital Officers are plagued about how to diversify the Federal workforce.
Women can crack the federal glass ceiling if they stop agreeing that the pinnacle of leadership belongs to men. Did women strongly support Geraldine Ferraro in her run for the Vice Presidency? Is the U.S. Congress still dominated by men? Do women vote in local and national elections? Are there no suitable and qualified women available to run for Congress across the 50 contiguous United States?
It is time the Federal human resources community come together and make a real commitment to diversity and inclusion. It has been a buzz phrase far too long, now let’s make it a part of the natural order of things. That’s the way effective Government runs – by advancing equal and open opportunities to the masses – which can shatter the federal glass ceiling.
P. S. Always Remember to Share What You Know.