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Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Looming Budget Cuts, New Education Benefits and More

EPA employees and supporters protest proposed funding cuts in Washington on March 15. EPA employees and supporters protest proposed funding cuts in Washington on March 15. Eric Katz

Federal employees are bracing for news about the administration’s plans for the federal workforce contained in President Trump’s 2018 budget, the thumbnail version of which is set to be released early Thursday. Deep cuts appear to be in the offing, perhaps most notably at the Environmental Protection Agency, given the administration’s antipathy for the agency’s mission. In anticipation, hundreds of EPA employees took to the streets Wednesday to protest expected funding cuts. Other agencies are in the line of fire, including the State Department and the Housing and Urban Development Department.

While the president’s proposals will certainly meet hurdles from Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill, the administration’s pledge to dismantle the administrative state has rattled many. Trump wants to cut $54 billion from civilian agencies in 2018 and use the money to bolster Defense. As Eric Katz reported earlier this week, that figure needs to be considered within the broader context of the 2011 Budget Control Act, not current spending. As a result, the cuts are much more severe than many people understand, in part because the BCA budget caps are set to resume in 2018.

While resistance from Democrats is guaranteed, it also is stirring new fears of another government shutdown. The big takeaway for feds: It’s going to be a rough year, full of uncertainty.

In the meantime . . .  The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, offers a number of resources for military personnel, veterans and family members who may be coping with pain, post-traumatic stress and other service-related health issues. This spring, NCCIH will hosting a series of discussions that aim to help military families with things ranging from parenting through deployments to coping with chronic pain and stress.

While two of the events take place at the NIH campus in Maryland, all three include Facebook Live question and answer sessions with the presenters. On the schedule this spring:

  • March 27: “Promoting Resilience in Military Families: After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools,” by Dr. Abigail Gewirtz.
  • April 10: "Pain and Opioid Management in Veterans: Evidence, Lessons Learned, and Future Directions in the Use of Collaborative and Integrated Care Approaches," by Dr. Karen Seal.
  • April 25: "Mind and Body Approaches and Military Personnel and Their Families," with Dr. Eric Schoomaker and Dr. Chester "Trip" Buckenmaier. In a Facebook Live Q&A, Drs. Schoomaker and Buckenmaier will discuss meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques for pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and insomnia in the military population.

For more information about NCCIH's Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series, visit Remote access will be available for the presentations at or NIH Visitor information is available at:

Is it time to refresh your education and skills? OPM has negotiated a number of new academic agreements designed to make it easier and more affordable for federal employees to go back to school and further develop their skills. The new agreements are with the College for America at Southern New Hampshire University, Drexel University Online, Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, and the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.  

The agreements provide reduced tuition rates and scholarships for feds, and some agreements extend to spouses and dependents as well. According to OPM:

The portfolio of these institutions include programs that address some of the federal government’s mission-critical occupation skills in the areas of acquisition, human resources, financial auditing, economics, information technology with an emphasis on cybersecurity, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  

See here for OPM’s list of academic alliances and eligibility criteria.

The original link to OPM's list of academic alliances was to a partial list. The link has been changed to show the full list.

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