- By Kellie Lunney
- May 23, 2013
Military families have a lot to worry about, and their biggest fears are over pay and benefits.
A new survey shows a rising level of anxiety over compensation: Thirty-five percent of military families rated pay and benefits as their top concern in the 2013 report, conducted in late 2012, from Blue Star Families, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting the military community. That’s a 15 percent increase from the group’s 2012 survey, conducted in 2011.
In fact, the top three fears in the 2013 report are related to financial uncertainty. About 20 percent of respondents listed both changes in retirement benefits and employment opportunities for their service member spouses as particularly worrisome. Given that more than one million service members are leaving active duty during the next five years as we leave Afghanistan, the survey results are not especially surprising. Fears over pay and benefits and potential changes to the military’s retirement system have remained the same in the last few years, regardless of whether the service member had less than or more than 20 years of service -- the point at which they become eligible for retirement benefits.
Still the level of anxiety among the members of the ...
- By Eric Katz
- May 16, 2013
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has unionized and first up on the agenda is improving employees’ workspace.
CFPB’s Washington, D.C., headquarters -- located adjacent to the White House -- will soon undergo renovations after employees complained of being forced to work in cramped conditions. Groups of four or five people are currently sharing offices with very thin walls, Politico reported.
And just when CFPB workers thought it could not get any worse, they may now be faced with no offices at all. Various reports have said CFBP employees may have to work from home or public spaces -- such as cafes -- while renovations are conducted.
A CFPB spokeswoman told Government Executive the agency is still weighing its options.
"The CFPB's headquarters building has not been renovated since it was constructed in 1976 and requires significant infrastructure upgrades,” the spokeswoman said. “No final decisions have been made on the specific nature of those renovations or on employee swing space during such renovations. We continue to seek input and evaluate the best options for minimizing costs while maximizing employee well-being and productivity."
The CFPB workforce recently voted to grant the National Treasury Employees Union representation rights. In a statement, NTEU president Colleen ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- May 9, 2013
Government furloughs because of sequestration have been news for the better part of a year. Lately, we’ve heard a lot about federal employees who’ve been granted a reprieve this fiscal year at least from the unpaid leave ax, but there are still many agency workers who haven’t been so lucky.
The number of furlough days for affected feds ranges, at the moment, from one to 14 depending on the individual agency’s budget situation. That means thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of feds will take home less pay -- how much less depends on several factors and how you do the math. For example, if a federal employee has to take seven furlough days between the first week of June and Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, they’d face about an 8.3 percent pay cut, give or take. You divide the number of furlough days (seven) by the number of work days left in the fiscal year for most feds between June and September (about 84). Using that rough estimate, an employee earning an annual salary of $50,000 would lose about $1,400 in gross pay over four months.
It should come as ...
- By Eric Katz
- May 2, 2013
Back in 2010, as the health care reform debate was raging on, Senate Republicans proposed legislative language requiring lawmakers to drop their insurance coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and enter the newly created exchange market.
The proposal was a political gambit, attempting to force Democrats to cast an embarrassing vote to opt out of one of the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions. Democrats called the bluff, however, and the amendment passed easily.
Three years later, members of Congress and their staffers are faced with the reality of losing FEHBP coverage.
The Office of Personnel Management has not yet issued regulations on how this switch will play out. Jonathan Foley, director of OPM’s Planning and Policy Analysis Office, recently told the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce that OPM is “in the process of writing regulations in response to the law,” but would not offer further detail.
Currently, the federal government covers about 70 percent of health care premium costs for lawmakers and their aides. It is unclear what percent, if any, the government will cover when the legislative branch moves to the exchange market.
OPM also will have to determine ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- April 25, 2013
Simpson and Bowles have rolled out yet another version of their deficit reduction proposals, and federal pension reform is still in there.
The famous 2010 bipartisan fiscal commission led by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson from Wyoming and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles last week released its latest plan, which calls for $2.5 trillion worth of spending cuts and tax increases. Like President Obama and many lawmakers, the duo thinks federal employees need to contribute more to their retirement benefits. They also favor moving to a less generous formula -- the so-called chained CPI -- to calculate retiree cost-of-living adjustments.
“Military and civilian pensions are both out of line with pension benefits available to the average worker in the private sector, and in some cases, out of line with each other across different categories of federal employment,” the new version of the plan states. Simpson-Bowles recommends “gradually” increasing federal civilian pensions “so that new federal employees ultimately pay about one-half the cost of their pensions, and existing federal employees pay one-quarter.” New employees now contribute 3.1 percent of each paycheck to their defined benefit, while most current feds put 0.8 percent of their pay toward ...