Federal Times Blogs

Top federal occupations that could see high turnover in 2017

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Federal agencies may have a tough time holding on to their program managers come 2017.

A new Government Accountability Office report ranked program management as the occupational category with the highest percentage of employees eligible to retire by 2017. For mid-sized agencies like the General Services Administration, Housing and Urban Development Department and Office of Personnel Management, 56 percent of employees involved in program management will be eligible to retire in the next three years, the report found.

At larger agencies that number is nearly 44 percent.

As more employees become eligible to retire, GAO noted that occupations like program management may face significantly higher turnover rates than others. For mid-sized agencies, here are the occupations with the highest percentage of employees eligible to retire by 2017:

1. Program Management

2. Secretary

3. General business and industry

4. Misc. clerk and assistant

5. General arts and information

6. General engineering

7. Misc. administration and program

8. Financial administration and program

9. Human resource management

10. Information technology management

For large agencies, custodial work and air traffic control topped the list of occupations with the highest number of employees who are approaching retirement. Read page 21 of the GAO report for more details.

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GSA helps find former military dog new home

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When the military dog Rex II came home to Fort Myer after serving in Afghanistan he was unable to be placed into a home right away because of behavioral issues. But two federal employees believed the dog had earned a second chance for helping to protect service members and save lives while overseas.

So GSA’s Mid-Atlantic Area Property Officer Robert Kitsock worked with Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Property Disposal Technician Angela Sakyrd to help find him a home at the Panama City Beach Police Department.

Read more about it on the GSA blog.

With stamp prices set to rise, legal challenges filed

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The price of a first-class stamp rises from 46 to 49 cents tomorrow and the cost of a host of other mail products and services will also increase following regulators’ decision last month to grant the U.S. Postal Service a temporary emergency rate increase.

As FedLine noted a couple of days ago, both the U.S. Postal Service and a mailing industry coalition planned to contest (albeit for different reasons) the Postal Regulatory Commission’s ruling. In appeals Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, both camps followed through. You can read the USPS filing here and the industry’s here, but neither spells out the grounds for their respective appeals. They will have to do so by Feb. 24, under a schedule released Friday by the court clerk’s office.

In a news release, industry leaders called the PRC’s ruling mistaken and warned that it could boomerang on the Postal Service. “The evidence used to secure this increase, more than three times the rate of inflation, is fundamentally flawed, and thus inherently inaccurate,” said Mary Berner, president and CEO of MPA–The Association of Magazine Media. “Increased rates will only result in more lost volume for the Postal Service. . . . This counterproductive decision should be returned to sender.”




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Postal Service, mailers poised to challenge exigent rate decision

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In granting a emergency postal rate hike last month, the Postal Regulatory Commission left both sides unhappy: The mailing industry, represented by an umbrella group known as the Affordable Mail Alliance, was displeased that the five-member commission agreed to any increase above the inflation rate; U.S. Postal Service leaders were frustrated that the boost will be temporary, ending once $2.8 billion is raised.

Now, the two camps are both preparing to appeal the decision in court. The Postal Service will file its challenge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by Thursday’s deadline, spokesman Dave Partenheimer said in a Wednesday email, while proceeding with implementation of the increase on Jan. 26 (this coming Sunday), as previously announced. Also on Thursday, the mailers alliance will file an intent to appeal the commission’s decision, an industry source said.



D.C.-area federal offices open Wednesday under delayed arrival

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Federal offices in the Washington, D.C. region will be open Wednesday, but with employees allowed to arrive up to two hours later than usual, according to an Office of Personnel Management advisory. Workers will also have the option of unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework, OPM said.

Wednesday’s delayed opening comes after federal agencies in the area were closed Tuesday because of a winter storm.

GSA wants vendor input on sustainability

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The General Services Administration wants input from contractors and businesses about how to build sustainability into procurements.

From GSA:

In the Federal Acquisition Service, we have been piloting the introduction of sustainability considerations into our procurements, particularly into the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative solutions. In addition to green product requirements, we’ve been looking at distribution networks, product takeback, and packaging reduction. Keeping in mind that more than 75% of our vendors are small businesses and that we want to be consistent with commercial practices, what else do you think we should be specifying to make a purchase “sustainable”?  Should we look at vendor practices and if so, which ones?

Those interested in giving feedback can go here.

Breaking: D.C.-area federal offices closed today

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With a major winter storm moving in, federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. region are closed today, the Office of Personnel Management has announced. As usual, emergency staff and telework-ready employees must follow their agencies’ policies. Here is the text of the official advisory.

In the area, snow is expected to begin falling around 7 a.m., with accumulations of 6 to 10 inches, according to this National Weather Service winter storm warning. For anyone who’s keeping track (FedLine always like to keep things in context), this is the second snow day of the season for several hundred thousand D.C.-area feds; the first was Dec. 10. Stay safe, everyone!


Review faults Navy oversight of “audit-readiness” contractors

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Irony alert: In its quest to improve management of its finances, the Navy is having trouble managing the contractors who have received tens of millions of dollars to help the service meet congressionally imposed “audit-readiness” deadlines.

That’s the takeaway from a newly released review by the Defense Department’s inspector general. One finding: The Navy’s Fleet Logistics Center office in Philadelphia spent $12.6 million on two task orders, “but did not adequately track whether the contractor met the requirements.”

The report highlights other shortcomings in how Navy employees oversaw the contracting work, including failing to devise quality assurance plans for some task orders and not recording when “deliverables” were turned in. The findings appear to have gotten no serious argument from either Naval Supply Systems Command—which includes the Fleet Logistics Center—or the Navy’s Office of Financial Operations, which agreed to make improvements.

The IG review also serves as a reminder that there is some serious taxpayer money involved in meeting the audit-readiness mandate.  As of the end of fiscal 2012, the Navy had obligated about $123.3 million worth of contracts to four heavyweights of the consulting world—Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte and KPMG—with almost $51 million spent. The review does not say which firm’s task orders did not get adequate oversight.

By law, the services and the Defense Department are supposed to have auditable financial statements in place by September 2017. While the Marine Corps recently received a clean opinion on its fiscal year 2012 schedule of budgetary activity, the Navy’s general fund financial statements for both FY12 and FY 2013 were—once again—unauditable, according to a separate review.

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Postal Service explains increase in headquarters staffing

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As FedLine recently reported, official U.S. Postal Service statistics showed that the career employee headcount fell in almost all segments of its workforce from 2009 through 2013, with USPS headquarters being the one exception. FedLine asked the Postal Service for comment on that point on Jan. 3; the agency responded this past Friday. Here is the full statement provided by USPS spokeswoman Patricia Licata; it has also been added to the original FedLine post.

“The Postal Service reductions in career employees were equally felt across both management and craft ranks. While the specific headquarters number has increased slightly, it cannot be viewed in isolation. Efficient management is about effectively allocating resources, and throughout this period, we have eliminated, shifted, streamlined and consolidated work across various functions, including human resources, customer relations, operations and finance, and across various levels, including local, district, area and headquarters.

“For example, the centralization of HR transactional work from the local and district level to the HQ level through an HR shared service center resulted in cost savings and operational efficiencies. Additionally, we have in-sourced work once performed by contractors in the form of three call centers, which has improved our customer service. Steps have been taken within the management ranks as in the craft ranks to efficiently allocate resources and cut costs while maintaining the highest level of service and customer satisfaction.

“Based on our integrated management approach, the appropriate way to view these career reductions is to look at the headquarters, headquarters field support, inspection service, area offices, and professional administration and technical personnel in total, which has been reduced by 17% over this period. The second level of management, including postmaster/installation heads and supervisors/managers was reduced by 21% over this period. In total, the management ranks over this period had a 21% reduction, which is commensurate with overall craft reductions.”

How many people at your agency are retirement-eligible?

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For all the talk of a looming “retirement tsumani” throughout  the federal workforce, the picture is actually a lot more nuanced. Some agencies–or agency components–have a ratio of retirement-eligibles well above the government-wide average of about 14 percent; some are so far below that the threat looks more like a ripple than a tidal wave, according to data provided by the Office of Personnel Management.

So where does your agency stand? Check out this nifty chart.


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