- By Kellie Lunney
- January 3, 2013
The last week has been a blur for everyone tuned into the fiscal cliff drama. The marathon legislative sessions on Capitol Hill between Christmas and New Year’s Day produced lots of federal compensation news but because of the evolving nature of the debate, it was tough to keep track of what actually squeaked through.
Here’s a recap of what happened this past week regarding some federal pay and benefits:
House-backed pay freeze extension: The big federal compensation news this week was the last-minute legislation the House passed to extend the salary freeze on civilian feds through 2013. Republican lawmakers managed to push through a bill on New Year’s Day that would block a scheduled salary increase for federal employees this spring, as well as prevent a raise for lawmakers from taking effect. But the new Congress convenes at noon on Thursday, making Senate action on the pay freeze extension legislation extremely unlikely.
That means the 113th Congress will have to start from scratch on any legislation that addresses federal pay. The current civilian federal pay freeze expires on March 27, when the continuing resolution funding the government runs out. It’s highly likely that Republican lawmakers in ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- December 20, 2012
In last week’s column, I talked about the possibility that a fiscal cliff deal could include switching to a less generous formula for calculating cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. This week, that became a probability.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are still trying to agree on a mutually satisfactory combination of tax revenue increases and spending cuts to avoid the looming fiscal cliff. As of 4:04 p.m. on Dec. 19, it remained to be seen whether a) there will be a deal before the New Year, or b) if there is a deal, what it will include and how specific (or not) said deal will be. But both sides reportedly agree on one thing, as I reported Monday: Retirees are going to see lower increases in their future COLAs.
A switch to the chained CPI, as it’s known inside the Beltway, over time would result in lower COLAs for retirees, including federal and military retirees. The change also would affect veterans’ benefits and disability insurance benefits. COLAs currently are determined using a formula that takes into account increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, but some experts argue ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- December 13, 2012
Here we are again, back in that old, familiar Washington place known as Down to the Wire.
With 19 days left until the end of the year, and even less time for cutting a deal on the fiscal cliff, President Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner reportedly are in their second round of the deficit reduction offer-counteroffer game.
The Republican and Democratic proposals aren’t long on specifics but both sides seem to be drawing on ideas they (and others) have floated before. Boehner’s opening parry after the White House released its first “offer,” included reducing federal pay and benefits as a way to help shrink the deficit. His second counteroffer reportedly is similar to the first one. (Second verse, same as the first.) Specifically, Republicans have called for extending the federal pay freeze, decreasing the government workforce by 10 percent through attrition and requiring feds to contribute more to their pensions. The pension proposal also is something Obama supports, although the contribution amounts from feds would be smaller under the administration’s plan.
Still, it’s looking more like any deal made before the New Year will be broad, and quite likely, short-term. In other words, there ...
- By Jean Fogarty
- December 6, 2012
The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act is changing the workplace landscape. As government agencies establish policies for working outside the office, many employees are no longer bound to the standard 40-hour workweek under the same roof as their manager.
This has its advantages. Telework can improve work-life balance, reduce the need for office space and real estate costs, curb absenteeism, and enhance recruitment and retention. Still, many managers are uncomfortable with this new office culture and worry about productivity.
There is a happy middle, however, for teleworkers and their bosses. Here are five tips that can take the tension out of teleworking.
Cover the Basics
Managers and employees both should know the parameters for working off-site—such as who has authority to approve telework and which employees are eligible—and sign agreements. Review agency policies, including terms and conditions, remote transmission of classified and sensitive information, reporting requirements and employee rights. Teleworkers should know what to do in case of emergency and be aware that they may temporarily have expanded roles and responsibilities if their co-workers can’t get into the office. Telework training for employees and managers is available at Telework.gov, an interagency website hosted by OPM and the ...
- By Kellie Lunney
- November 29, 2012
It looks like military retirees covered by TRICARE will end up paying a little more for their prescription drugs, but not as much as the Obama administration would like.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., offered an amendment to the fiscal 2013 Defense authorization bill Wednesday that would modestly increase TRICARE co-payments for name-brand and nonformulary drugs next year, according to a Nov. 28 report in Army Times. It also would cap pharmacy co-pays beginning in 2014 so that such fees are in line with the annual retiree cost-of-living adjustment. The costs associated with the fee increases would be offset by a pilot program requiring TRICARE for Life recipients to obtain maintenance drug refills through the mail.
Reed’s amendment, which is similar to a provision in the House-passed version of the fiscal 2013 Defense authorization, would result in co-pays of $17 for brand-name drugs at retail pharmacies and $44 for nonformulary drugs, according to Army Times. Co-pays for 90-day prescriptions obtained through the mail would increase to $13 for brand-name drugs and $44 for nonformulary medication under Reed’s amendment.
President Obama has proposed higher increases for drug co-payments at pharmacies and through the mail. Under the administration’s proposal ...