- By Kellie Lunney
- April 11, 2013
Budget Day 2013 has finally arrived. Federal employees should not be surprised by the pay and benefits proposals in President Obama’s latest plan, as this is a well-traveled road with all the familiar twists and turns.
Obama wants government workers to contribute more to their pensions starting in 2014, a proposal he also floated in his fiscal 2013 budget plan. Right now, most feds contribute 0.8 percent of each paycheck to their pensions; the president’s proposal would increase that by 1.2 percent, phased in over three years, resulting in a 2 percent contribution level by 2017. In the area of federal pay and benefits, that’s a rare example of agreement between the White House and most congressional Republicans.
It’s always been a matter of when, not if, current federal employees will have to pay more for their retirement benefits. Between the president’s fiscal 2014 proposal and the recent House-passed budget blueprint, which recommends that feds pay more for their pensions, it looks like this idea’s time finally has come. Remember, new hires after 2012 and those with fewer than five years of previous federal service now have to contribute 3.1 percent ...
- By Eric Katz
- April 4, 2013
Congress has asked the Pentagon to shoulder about half the spending cuts resulting from sequestration, more than $40 billion, in the remainder of fiscal 2013. For months, the Defense Department has been wrestling with how and where to implement the cuts.
Budget leaders were given some extra flexibility recently, when a spending bill to keep government operational through September transferred $10 billion into the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance accounts. This prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to scale back furloughs for the department’s civilian workforce of nearly 800,000 employees from 22 days to 14.
Not everyone at Defense will be furloughed, however. Military personnel are exempt by law. But the Pentagon also will exempt or protect certain fields by policy, Defense Comptroller Robert Hale said last week during a webinar hosted by the Association of Government Accountants and the American Society of Military Comptrollers.
Policy protections include family programs on military bases. While programs like schools for military families are subject to budget cuts, fear not, a soldier’s daughter will not have to repeat the second grade due to sequestration. Teachers will not be furloughed to the “extent we have to ensure our kids get a creditable ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- March 28, 2013
The sequester is squeezing nearly every agency’s budget. Managers are scouring the books to find all available savings, and that could include less generous public transit and parking benefits for federal employees. The Labor Department, for instance, has already decided to provide a maximum monthly transit subsidy of $125 to employees in 2013 -- $120 less than the maximum that agencies can give feds this year under the law. Agencies would like to avoid massive furloughs, so perks like commuting subsidies are very much on the table. Transit benefits, after all, aren’t entitlements.
The Commuter Benefit Chase
There’s a rumor out there, beyond the Beltway, that all Washington-area federal employees get free parking.
It’s not true, of course. Some work at agencies that provide free or subsidized parking to eligible employees—for example, the Pentagon and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation—but many others ride public transportation to and from their jobs out of necessity, just like workers in other parts of the country. A 2000 executive order directed federal agencies to create a transportation fringe benefit program for employees to ease traffic congestion and encourage the use of mass transit and carpooling. Thirteen years later, it ...
- By Eric Katz
- March 21, 2013
Oh, how far we have come.
The across-the-board spending cuts are already in effect, and federal employee furloughs are all but certain. Notices have been sent out at several agencies, and lawmakers are pessimistic about any last-ditch efforts to cancel the across-the-board cuts.
“There will definitely be, in this year, there will be agencies that will be doing furloughs,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., told Government Executive on Monday after a town hall meeting with U.S. Census Bureau employees.
Dozens of federal agencies have announced the specifics of their furlough plans. A few say they will be able to stay within their diminished budget levels without forcing unpaid leave by freezing hiring and cutting other costs, such as travel and training.
Benefits on the Table
As agencies look for ways to save money to meet new spending targets, managers are targeting everything from transit benefits to…compressed work ...
- By Eric Katz
- March 14, 2013
While most in government -- from President Obama to agency heads to front-line workers to lawmakers to contractors -- have decried the across-the-board spending cuts of sequestration, a select few could actually benefit from them. Here are some examples:
Premium pay executives: Premium pay is offered to certain federal employees -- for example, law enforcement personnel -- in addition to their basic rate of pay. The amount of premium pay is capped, however, in each pay period. The Office of Personnel Management has identified a scenario in which an employee who regularly hits the premium pay cap would end up taking home the same amount of money during a furlough because the reduction in basic pay would be offset by extra premium pay that no longer falls above the ceiling. In other words, this employee would receive the same compensation as usual, but work fewer hours. Not a bad position to be in, at least from the employee’s perspective.
Federal employee lawyers: Workers can challenge furloughs, and that means more business for lawyers with a government clientele. The Merit Systems Protection Board is bracing for a flood of such appeals. Tully Rinckey PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that serves federal employees ...