News Briefs

December 26, 1996

News Briefs

The following news summaries are from OPM AM, the daily newsletter of the Office of Personnel Management. OPM AM is available on OPM Mainstreet, the agency's electronic bulletin board, at 202-606-4800.

FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON WAY TO THIS FORUM--"The labor-management partnership council at the Internal Revenue Service met last week but did not discuss impending layoffs and related legal actions, even though the Clinton administration has urged agencies and unions to use forums as a way to avoid costly litigation over workplace disputes.... We did not talk about any issues related to the rif or the impasse or the lawsuit,' NTEU president Robert M. Tobias said after the partnership meeting, held last Wednesday, the same day that IRS filed its application with the Federal Service Impasses panel. I think the parties have implicitly decided that that will not be grist for the partnership effort. We have decided on this issue that we are going to pursue our remedies and not use the partnership process at this stage to resolve outstanding issues,' he said" (The Washington Post).

BOTTOM LINE OR BY-THE BOOK: POSTAL SERVICE'S PUBLIC-PRIVATE IDENTITY CRISIS: "When Loren E. Smith arrived at the U.S. Postal Service in 1994, he soon made it clear he was out to change the way of doing business inside the Pink Palace,' as postal workers call their L'Enfant Plaza headquarters. But Smith's mandate, to challenge the agency's conservative business philosophy, placed the newest postal senior vice president at the center of the identity crisis that has continued to split the agency since it became an independent agency 25 years ago. Was the Postal Service to behave as yet another federal bureaucracy or could it act like a Fortune 500 corporation answerable to the public only for its bottom-line performance?" (December 25, The Washington Post).

WHITE HOUSE GEARS UP FOR BUDGET FIGHT--"The White House is preparing for the 1997 budget battle with a spending plan that it says will balance the budget by 2002 and deliver tax relief. The delivery of the fiscal 1998 budget, due to Congress Feb. 3, will be the opening shot in what is likely to be the New Year's hottest policy debate....While aides say the budget is close to completion, President Clinton is still weighing two controversial issues: How much to trim in Medicare spending. How much to restore to welfare spending" (USA TODAY).

PAYROLL CHARITY POT FEEDS A VARIETY OF IDEOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL NEEDS--"The annual charity drive that raises millions from federal workers this year promised to Help Hope Take Shape.' But traditional recipients like soup kitchens and hospices have had to compete with gun lobbies, badminton advocates and ritzy prep schools for the estimated $195 million being raised. The three-decade-old Combined Federal Campaign, to which workers contribute through payroll deductions, puts political advocacy groups on a par with the do-good charities that once got the money exclusively. Despite objections from Republican lawmakers who have taken issue with some of the advocacy groups that receive funds through the campaign, the government only requires recipients to prove the improve health and human welfare.'" (December 25, The Washington Post).

U.S. LIMITS H.M.O.'s IN LINKING BONUSES TO COST CONTROLS--"The Federal Government has adapted a new policy limiting the types of bonuses that can be paid to doctors as a reward for controlling the cost of services for Medicare and Medicaid patients. The policy is described in notices sent today to health maintenance organizations around the country. Its stated purpose is to protect patients against improper clinical decisions made under the influence of strong financial incentives' offered to doctors by H.M.O's." (December 25, The New York Times).

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