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A Survey to Improve Personnel Policies, and More

A weekly roundup of pay and benefits news.

The Office of Personnel Management last week announced that it would begin conducting a series of surveys of federal workers across the government regarding the competencies they require to effectively do their jobs, which officials say will shape a variety of personnel policies, including job classifications, hiring, recruitment and retention.

The first phase of the Federal Workforce Competency Initiative survey will go out to a random selection of federal employees across 350 federal occupations in the coming weeks, and will poll them about “general competencies” required for their jobs, like problem solving and interpersonal skills. Future phases of the survey will focus on technical competencies and will be more tailored to specific subsets of federal jobs.

“OPM and agencies can use the competencies from the [Federal Workforce Competency Initiative] to identify or develop assessments that meet requirements that employment practices be based on a job analysis,” wrote acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan in a memo announcing the survey. “Furthermore, this governmentwide competency modeling approach uses a common language for describing work that can provide consistent messaging on the factors on which employees are selected, evaluated and trained. Finally, this centralized data collection approach offers efficiencies and cost savings to agencies by having OPM collect job analysis data once and eliminating the need for single agency studies.”

A Bill to Fight Military Hunger

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation this month to provide additional financial support to low-income members of the armed services dealing with food insecurity.

The Military Hunger Prevention Act (H.R. 2339), introduced by Reps. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash.; Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Don Bacon, R-Neb.; Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.; and Jim Baird, R-Ind., would require the secretary of Defense to pay a monthly allowance to service members equal to the difference between their household income and 130% of the federal poverty line.

The bill’s sponsors said they hope to alleviate hunger felt by some service members who are low-income, but do not qualify for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Currently, military families who do not live on base receive a basic allowance for housing to pay for rent. But the Agriculture Department counts that allowance as income for the purposes of determining food stamp eligibility, effectively disqualifying many military service members from the program.

“Our military community has not gone untouched by the challenges of this pandemic, including the economic strain it has placed on housing and hunger,” Strickland said in a statement. “The bottom line is that people who serve our country should not have to worry about putting food on the table. The Military Hunger Prevention Act is the investment that our military families need and deserve, and I’m proud to join Reps. Panetta, Young and Bacon in introducing this vital legislation to put an end to military hunger.”

“Our nation’s servicemembers are willing to fight and die for our country, and we should be doing all that we can to ensure that our heroes and their families do not go to bed hungry,” Young said. “Every year, we spend billions to make sure that our nation’s servicemembers are trained and equipped to defend our country. But all too often, we forget about their very real needs at home. No family, and certainly no child, should go hungry. Sadly, that is a reality for too many military families in Alaska and across the nation.”

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