Brittany Ballenstedt

Blogger Reporter Portrait for Brittany Ballenstedt writes Nextgov's Wired Workplace blog, which delves into the issues facing employees who work in the federal information technology sector. Before joining Nextgov, Brittany covered federal pay and benefits issues as a staff correspondent for Government Executive and served as an associate editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mansfield University and originally hails from Pennsylvania. She currently lives near Travis Air Force Base, Calif., where her husband is stationed.
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OPM refines standards for reductions in force

August 11, 2008 The Office of Personnel Management on Monday issued final regulations that will allow agencies to group employees based on their pay system during downsizings. The regulations, published in the Federal Register, set new standards for determining the pool of employees who will compete with one another to keep their jobs...

GSA increases per diems for some cities

August 11, 2008 The General Services Administration on Friday announced per diem rate adjustments for fiscal 2009. Starting Oct. 1, federal employees traveling to about 400 locations in the continental United States will receive a per diem that is higher than the national standard rate, which is $70 for lodging and $39 for...

A Sick Leave Remedy

August 7, 2008 Federal employees hired since 1984 could be just months away from being able to cash out their unused sick leave at retirement. Last week, the House passed a measure that would allow workers covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (generally those hired in 1984 or later) to apply their...

TSP launches custom user ID option

August 6, 2008 The 3.9 million participants in the federal Thrift Savings Plan now can create customized user identification to access their accounts online, the agency overseeing the plan announced on Wednesday. The new feature is designed to replace the 13-digit account numbers the TSP issued to participants last fall in an effort...

New bill would protect contract employees from discrimination and harassment

August 4, 2008 Legislation introduced by nine House Democrats on Friday would extend discrimination and whistleblower protections to employees who work for contractors and federally funded health care facilities. It also would increase the financial liability of agencies in those cases. "Agencies that engage in discrimination, retaliation, harassment, or violations of federal discrimination...

Senate passes bill to restore back pay to GAO employees

August 4, 2008 The Senate passed legislation Friday that would restore pay raises to more than 300 analysts at the Government Accountability Office who were excluded under a system that began in 2005, even though they received satisfactory performance ratings. The bill (H.R. 5683) would guarantee that employees performing at the "meets expectations"...

Second Chances

August 1, 2008 A lawmaker is on a mission to convince the government to hire more ex-offenders. With more than 9,000 people leaving Maryland's prison system annually and returning to Baltimore, programs to keep ex-offenders from slipping back into their old habits are critical. One such program, launched in 2005, brings nonviolent former...

House backs new FERS sick leave policy

July 31, 2008 The House passed a measure on Wednesday that would grant federal employees hired since 1984 the same benefit as their counterparts in an older retirement system: credit for unused sick leave in their pension calculations. Currently, employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (generally those hired in 1984 or...

Life Investment

July 31, 2008 On Aug. 1, the Thrift Savings Plan will celebrate the three-year anniversary of its newest investment offering: the life-cycle (L) funds. The L funds are a blend of the five basic TSP funds -- international stocks, small and large domestic stocks, government securities, and fixed-income bonds -- that automatically shift...

MSPB: Competitive hiring on the decline

July 29, 2008 Federal agencies are turning less often to the traditional competitive hiring process to fill white-collar positions, potentially hurting the government's ability to achieve a diverse workforce, according to a new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board. The report, released last week, found that managers used competitive examining for 28...

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