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Report suggests sweeping changes to CFC

Federal employees’ charity campaign should expand donor base and get a website, commission finds.

A commission headed by two former congressmen has recommended two dozen improvements to the federal employees’ annual charity campaign, according to a new report

The commission, launched in 2011 on the 50th anniversary of the Combined Federal Campaign, suggested widening the donor base by including retirees and contractors, using online technologies to centralize giving options and reducing administrative costs to improve efficiency. The commission also pointed to a March inspector general’s assessment of CFC’s regional office in the District of Columbia for additional recommendations.

“The combined federal campaign is being challenged as never before by innovative technologies and newer ways for Americans to support charities in their communities and around the world,” commission co-chairs, former Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Beverly Byron, D-Md., wrote in their report released Friday.

“With these challenges, however, come major opportunities to help donors understand and support not-for-profit groups, to streamline administrative operations, and allow a wider circle of potential donors to donate through this long-standing program,” they said.

In addition to providing giving opportunities to former and contracted federal personnel, the commission said CFC could receive more donations by allowing federal workers to donate to charities in any of the nationwide campaigns and by extending the deadline for participation.

To assist in these efforts, the commission recommended CFC create a website that lists every charity and allows donors to give online. To streamline oversight, the auditors said CFC should combine local Principal Combined Fund Organization offices into larger regional centers.

The report’s suggestions also would reduce overhead costs by passing administrative expenses from CFC to the charities themselves by instituting a flat fee for participating organizations.

The fees could have a negative impact on the campaign, according to Steve Delfin, president and chief executive officer of American Charities, a CFC adviser.

“We are raising a large cautionary flag on this recommendation as it could have significant unanticipated ramifications on the CFC,” Delfin said in his testimony to the commission, which was included in the report. “Further campaign cost sharing might result in a smaller charity database, contributing further to decreased employee participation.”

The inspector general’s report from earlier this year found excessive spending on training exercises and appreciation events for CFC organizers, resulting in more than $300,000 of “questionable” expenses.

The Office of Personnel Management, CFC’s parent agency, said it is taking the report under advisement.

“I asked the CFC-50 Commission to answer big questions, and to make the CFC more efficient, more accountable and more relevant to federal workers who want to make the greatest impact with their donations," OPM Director John Berry said in a statement. “The administration supports the direction of the recommendations and will consider regulatory changes as appropriate.”

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