News Briefs

November 25, 1996

News Briefs

The following news summaries are from OPM AM, the daily newsletter of the Office of Personnel Management. OPM AM is available on OPM Mainstreet, the agency's electronic bulletin board, at 202-606-4800.

CAPITAL-AREA FEDERAL PAY TO RISE 3.33%--"Federal employees in the Washington-Baltimore area will get a 3.33 percent pay increase next year, the Clinton administration announced yesterday. Under a 1990 law, the government's nearly 2 million white-collar workers receive a two-part pay adjustment each year. Just before Labor Day, President Clinton signaled that workers would receive a 2.3 percent increase in base pay next year and an additional locality pay' installment that he would decide on this month. Yesterday, Clinton informed Congress that he had adopted an alternative plan for locality pay that would conform to his fiscal 1997 budget request and save $3.6 billion in payroll costs" (Saturday, The Washington Post).

THE FEDERAL DIARY--"The most important decision many federal employees face this year--unless they are planning a marriage, divorce, baby or bankruptcy--must be signed, sealed and delivered by Dec. 9. That's the deadline for picking a 1997 health plan in a program that covers about half the people in the Washington area. If you are single, very healthy and very, very lucky, you can go with almost any of the 20-plus plans available to feds here. Pick one with low premiums and a good catastrophic benefit, and you will be fine. Possibly. But most people don't know when they will be hit by a major illness....Rather than trusting their luck, most people covered by the federal health program need to do their homework. Check the brochures of several plans, then ask your doctor to look at them" (Monday, The Washington Post). "Federal investors love the stock market--at least the part where they can stash pretax dollars for retirement or a rainy day. So far, the market loves them back--big time. For the first time in the history of the thrift savings plan, workers are putting more money (their own and government contributions) into the stock fund than in either the bond or Treasury funds" (Sunday, The Washington Post).

REVISED CBO ESTIMATES MAY SMOOTH BUDGET TALKS--"Clinton administration officials and congressional Republicans have yet to find much political common ground' on budget matters. Their economic advisers, however, seem to be having better luck. Analysts at the Congressional Budget Office--the nonpartisan estimating agency many Republican lawmakers held up as the sole source of honest numbers' in last year's federal government budget fight--are planning substantial revisions in their economic forecast. The changes would bring the CBO's figures much closer to the White House's estimates--which congressional Republicans derided last year as far too optimistic" (Saturday, The Washington Post).

DUES BLUES: NONPAYING WORKERS IRK FEDERAL UNIONS--"About 100 unions represent 1.2 million Federal workers, but they are unlike unions in any other industry. Except for the unions that represent postal workers, they cannot negotiate salaries. Those are set by Congress. They also don't have the power to strike....And the unions cannot even require dues from the workers they represent. Of those 1.2 million Federal workers, it is estimated that only 25 percent pay dues.... But the unions must represent all eligible Federal workers, handling their grievances and negotiating their workplace conditions, even if those employees are not union members....But the A.F.L.-C.I.O. says it will lobby the White House for an executive order allowing them to charge fees to nonmembers for services" (Sunday, The New York Times).

PLUMS GONE BAD--"The myth that White House appointees fill plum posts will be debunked today, or so says the authors of the 1997 Prune Book, profiling in detail several dozen of the most important presidential appointments. There are no longer "plum" jobs in government,' says Patricia McGinnis, president and chief executive officer of the Council for Excellence in Government. Now they are prunes--tough jobs that demand experience and wisdom' " (Monday, The Washington Times).

OTHER NEWS--Diversity in the workplace remains a work in progress. Readers and experts say racial issues remain. Stories by USA Today's Ellen Neuborne. (Monday, USA TODAY). Bruce Milhans, deputy director of OPM's office of communications wins the press release award of the week from Washington Post writer Al Kamen. Mr. Kamen says, "The Office of Personnel Management sent a media advisory' out after getting calls about whether the government will take off the day after Thanksgiving" (Monday, The Washington Post).

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