Federal Times Blogs

D.C.-area federal offices open Wednesday

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As the Washington, D.C. area gets another dusting of snow this morning, federal offices in the region will be open, but employees have the option of unscheduled leave or telework, the Office of Personnel Management said in web posting. You can read the announcement here.

Report shows where CFC pledges go

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By all accounts, pledges to the 2013 Combined Federal Campaign are going to be down by tens of millions of dollars in comparison with the 2012 CFC. This is, of course, money that mostly goes to charities. But which charities benefit from federal employee giving (and could thus see a falloff in contributions)?

The Office of Personnel Management does not collect that information. Instead, the Workplace Giving Alliance, a Massachusetts-based coalition of CFC federations, decided to do the job on its own, compiling pledge information for the last three years from most local campaigns and then extrapolating to fill in the gaps.

In a report released a few months ago, here’s what the group found: Among national and international charities, the biggest CFC beneficiary in the 2012 season was the American Red Cross, which received more than $7 million in pledges. Runner-up was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which got about $6.7 million, following by the Wounded Warrior Project, with about $5 million. In general, health, religious, veterans, education and animal-related charities did well; you can read the full report here.




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Obama administration renewing focus on IT acquisition

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For anyone familiar with last fall’s disastrous rollout of the healthcare.gov website (and that presumably includes most of the adult population of the United States), it will come as no surprise to hear that the Obama administration is again working to get smarter delivery of information technology services.

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount from the challenges the administration’s recently faced and have worked  diligently to address this past year,” Beth Cobert, a senior Office of Management and Budget official, said at a recent Association of Government Accountants gathering. “But we know that information technology is important to how the government works today and will be more important to the government going forward.”

As a result, the administration has “a focused effort under way to look at this,” said Cobert, who became OMB’s deputy director for management in October. That includes “many, many conversations” with government employees, contractors and IT firms that do no government business to gather ideas and to think about potential improvements.

There will be more to come on the subject in the months ahead, Cobert said, “but it’s clearly an area that I’m focused on and my team is focused on.”


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Washington, D.C. federal offices open under two-hour delay Friday

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After getting a snow day Thursday, federal employees in the D.C. region can arrive up to two hours late at  their offices Friday, and also have the option of unscheduled leave or telework, the Office of Personnel Management has just announced.

With Monday a federal holiday, some feds may have been hoping for a five-day weekend. That’s still an option, but for tomorrow, it will have to be on their own time.

ACT-IAC announces finalists for excellence in government awards

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The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC), a public-private IT partnership, announced the 31 finalists for its annual Excellence.gov Awards. The program, which recognizes the best practices in the government’s management and use of information technology, will announce the winners on March 24, 2014 at the Arena Stage in Washington DC.

“The Excellence.Gov Awards recognizes government programs that use IT to fuel efficiency, collaboration and cost savings,” said Kimberly Hancher, Government Chair for Excellence.Gov 2014. “This year’s finalists demonstrate creativity in the public sector and serve as a model for innovation across government.”

The following are the finalists for the 2014 Excellence.gov Awards:

Finalists for Excellence in Enhancing the Customer Experience:

  • U.S. Census Bureau – America’s Economy Mobile App
  • U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration – BusinessUSA
  • Department of Education – MAX Authentication
  • Internal Revenue Service – Virtual Service Delivery
  • Department of Homeland Security, Office of The Chief Readiness Officer, Office of Chief Information Officer – Parking and Transit Subsidy Application Tool (PTSAT)
  • Internal Revenue Service, Information Technology, User & Network Services – Convergence Unified Communications

Finalists for Excellence in Intergovernmental Collaboration:

  • Collaboration Branch, PEO, ES, Defense Information Systems Agency – Defense Connect Online (DCO)
  • Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management -Benefits.gov
  • Department of Commerce, Office of Project Management and Information Technology – Modernization of Performance Payout System (PPS)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of the Chief Engineer – NASA Engineering Network
  • Department of the Interior, Office of the Chief Information Officer – eMail Enterprise Records and Document Management System (eERDMS)

 Finalists in Excellence in Enterprise Efficiency:

  • United State Department of Agriculture, Risk Management Agency (RMA) – Crop Insurance Program Compliance and Integrity Data Warehouse
  • Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys – Enterprise Voice over IP (EVoIP)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of the CIO – NASA IT Labs
  • U.S. Army – Network Enterprise Center Fort Bragg (NEC-FB)
  • U.S. Army – Product Director Enterprise Email (PD EE) / Department of Defense Enterprise Email (DEE) Service

Finalists in Excellence in Innovation: Digital Government:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of the CIO – Web Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Federal Sector Enterprise Portal (FedSEP)
  • U.S. Army – Global Combat Support System – Army (GCSS-Army)
  • US Army, Office of The Judge Advocate General – JAGConnect
  • NASA Office of the CIO – Web Enterprises Services and Technology (WESTPRIME)

Finalists in Excellence in Innovation: Pilots and Start-up Projects:

  • Defense Information Systems Agency, Directorate of Network Services – ADNET Advanced Analytics (A3) EPICLink Pilot (A3/E)
  • U.S. Army CECOM – CECOM Equipment Diagnostic Analysis Tool (CEDAT) Virtual Logistic Assistance Representative (VLAR)
  • National Institutes of Health – eVIP – Electronic Vendor Invoicing Program
  • Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center – Identity Management Enterprise Services Architecture (IMESA) and Continuous Evaluation
  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration – Program Integrity Tools (PIT)

Finalists in Excellence in Health IT

  • Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs – Defense and Veterans Eye Injury and Vision Registry (DVEIVR)
  • Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia – Electronic Health and Human Services (eHHR): Innovating Human Services in Virginia
  • U.S. Army, PEO EIS – Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care (MC4)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs – Mobile Applications for Mental and Behavioral Health
  • Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health – Parkinson’s Disease Biomarkers Program Data Management Resource (PDBP DMR)

Washington, D.C-area feds getting a snow day

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Federal offices in the Washington, D.C. area will be closed Thursday, the Office of Personnel Management has announced. The early call came Wednesday evening as snow is already accumulating.

As usual, emergency and telework-ready employees must follow their agencies’ policies. But for those who have the chance to sleep a little later tomorrow morning, enjoy it. And stay safe.

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Now for sale: Navy special operations boat

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How badly do you want to catch some fish? Or do you just want to cruise the waters in style?

Well either way you might want to consider bidding on a Navy special operations craft, currently on sale through the General Services Administration auction program. The initial bid is $100,000 but that won’t meet the reserve.

The 82-foot Mark V special operations craft weighs about 57 tons and can carry about 6,500 pounds with a range of 500 nautical miles. It can fit you and up to 15 of your closest friends/military Special Forces crew seated in relative comfort.

It also has enough room to fit four motor-propelled inflatable boats.

And it can all be yours! Just be careful, it does not come with a warranty and you will need to haul it from its current location in Norfolk, Va. The auction starts on Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.


So what’s up with agency attrition rates?

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Every year, tens of thousands of federal employees retire or otherwise leave their jobs. But some agencies have much higher turnover rates than others. That data nugget is buried in a recent Government Accountability Office report examining government workforce trends. From fiscal 2004 through 2012, the average annual government retirement rate was 3.5 percent, the average resignation rate, 2.4 percent, for a combined “separation rate” of 5.9 percent, according to the report.

But when GAO reviewers looked at 24 individual agencies, they found a pretty big spread around that average. During that 2004-12 period, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency had an average yearly separation rate of 4.3 percent, less than half the figure for the Office of Personnel Management. Here is a ranking of the agencies culled from the GAO numbers. While workforce age would clearly be one factor in explaining the variations, are there others that come to mind?

1. Environmental Protection Agency

Retirement: 2.5%

Resignation: 1.8%

Total: 4.3%

2. Justice Department

Retirement: 2.2%

Resignation: 2.3%

Total: 4.5%

3. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Retirement: 3.1%

Resignation: 1.7%

Total: 4.8%

4. Transportation Department

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 0.9%

Total: 5.1%

5.  Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Retirement: 3.2%

Resignation: 2.2%

Total: 5.4%

6. Department of Health and Human Services

Retirement: 2.5%

Resignation: 3.0%

Total: 5.5%

7. Social Security Administration

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 1.5%

Total: 5.7%

8. Department of Veterans Affairs

Retirement: 3%

Resignation: 3.1%

Total: 6.1%

9. Housing and Urban Development Department

Retirement: 4.2%

Resignation: 2.0%

Total: 6.2%

10. Department of Homeland Security

Retirement: 1.6%

Resignation: 5.0%

Total: 6.6%

11. General Services Administration

Retirement: 3.7%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 6.6%

12. Agriculture Department

Retirement: 3.9%

Resignation: 2.8%

Total: 6.7%

13. Interior Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 3.1%

Total: 6.7%

14. Energy Department

Retirement: 4.3%

Resignation: 2.6%.

Total: 6.9%

15. State Department

Retirement: 2.7%

Resignation: 4.2%

Total: 6.9%

16,  Labor Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 3.4%

Total: 7.0%

18. U.S. Agency for International Development

Retirement: 4.1%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 7.0%

19. Defense Department

Retirement: 3.5%

Resignation: 3.6%

Total: 7.1%

20. National Science Foundation

Retirement: 3.2%

Resignation: 3.9%

Total: 7.1%

21. Treasury Department

Retirement: 3.6%

Resignation: 4.0%

Total: 7.6%

22.  Education Department

Retirement: 4.3%

Resignation: 3.7%

Total: 8.0%

23. Small Business Administration

Retirement: 5.4%

Resignation: 2.9%

Total: 8.3%

24. Office of Personnel Management

Retirement: 3.7%

Resignation: 7.2%

Total: 10.9%


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Postal Service announcing 1Q financials tomorrow

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Just a heads-up that the U.S. Postal Service will be announcing its first-quarter fiscal 2014 financial results on Friday morning. Because of the holiday shipping season, the first quarter is typically the Postal Service’ s strongest, so it will be interesting to see whether the steady (albeit relative) improvement in USPS finances continued in the three-month period from October through December.

The numbers typically are released at a Board of Governors meeting. In this case, however, the Postal Service plans to announce them via a news release, followed by posting of the full quarterly report. Federal Times will have the story.


Washington, D.C.-area federal offices are open Wednesday

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The icy rain pelting the D.C. region notwithstanding, federal agencies are open today, the Office of Personnel Management says,  but employees have the option of unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Click here for the advisory posted on OPM’s website. Stay safe!

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