The linguistic origins of the word “golf” are lost to time. But for 21st century feds, the game often just means trouble.
The latest evidence: Stephen Calvery, head of the Defense Force Protection Agency, gets an unfavorable write-up by the Defense Department’s inspector general for giving employees administrative leave to participate in the agency’s 2009 and 2010 golf tournaments.
Under the rules, such leave is allowable only if it benefits the agency’s mission, furthers a particular DoD function or has “a government-wide recognized and sanctioned purpose,” according to a redacted copy of the report posted today on the IG’s website.
“DoD regulations do not list a golf tournament as a common situation in which agencies generally grant excused absence,” the report says.
Calvery responded that the tournament was one of several team-building “esprit de corps” initiatives he had launched at the agency, which was created after 9/11 to protect the Pentagon and its workforce.
In his further defense, Calvery noted that only four employees received administrative leave to attend the 2009 tournament. After checking with lawyers, however, he required participating staff to take annual leave for the 2011 event. The IG was unmollified, citing the wrongful use of administrative leave as one of several allegations to have merit.
The IG also found that Calvery misused his position to have his office staff pick up his lunch and bring him coffee, arranged for someone (the name is blacked out, but it wasn’t a DoD employee) to use the force protection agency’s firing range and provided preferential hiring treatment to a subordinate.
Calvery still heads the agency, according to its website. What disciplinary action he faced, if any, is unclear. A DoD spokesman said today that he didn’t know and that—if the punishment was administrative in nature-could not disclose it, anyway.
But let’s take the opportunity to review a few other examples of federal employees who ran into links-related trouble, drawing on information compiled by the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight.
There was, for example, the Bureau of Land Management district manager who accepted tickets to golf tournaments from oil and gas companies. Or the Department of Homeland Security employees found to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on training at golf and tennis resorts. Or the Justice Department officials who came under fire for awarding a $500,000 grant to the World Golf Foundation.
Katherine Archuleta officially became the 10th director of the Office of Personnel Management this morning following a private swearing-in ceremony, the agency said in a news release. Archuleta, confirmed by the Senate last Wednesday to a four-year term, began the day by greeting employees in the lobby of OPM headquarters.
“OPM touches so many lives and has such a significant impact on government service,” Archuleta said in the release. “I look forward to getting to know the many dedicated, hard-working men and women who serve the public every day.”
Archuleta replaces John Berry, who left in April en route to a new gig as ambassador to Australia. Filling in as director was OPM General Counsel Elaine Kaplan, who officiated at this morning’s swearing-in ceremony, attended by Archuleta’s husband, Edmundo Gonzales.
Among other activities, Archuleta will spend the week meeting with senior staff and getting briefed on various issues facing the agency.
NASA has extended the deadline for bids on its $20 billion Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract, following last month’s government shutdown.
The agency has extended the due date to Nov. 15, according to an online notice. Originally, companies had until Oct. 14 to bid.
NASA said the 16-day shutdown delayed its response to industry’s questions as well as changes to the solicitation.
The contract will provide agencies with desktops, laptops, servers and other information technology equipment.
Employees at the IRS and Customs and Border Protection should get at least some shutdown-related back pay at soon as tomorrow, senior leaders at the two agencies said today.
“You will receive your back and regular pay a full four days earlier than Oct. 28, the day most people would receive pay,” Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in an email to employees. In a similar note, Assistant CBP Commissioner Eugene Schied said that employees there should see retroactive salary payments show up “as early as Thursday.”
The two agencies, whose combined workforces total almost 150,000, are both paid through the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents workers at both IRS and CBP, is “grateful” that agency leaders “made this a priority and that employees at the agency and at the payment centers worked diligently to get this done,” Colleen Kelley, the union’s president, said in a statement. As early as tomorrow, CBP workers should receive back pay for Pay Period 19, which includes the first week of the shutdown, Kelley said, while a deposit for Pay Period 20 should follow on Monday, Oct. 28.
Thousands of federal workers got a welcome arrival in their bank accounts today: An ahead-of-schedule deposit for back pay owed from the partial government shutdown.
While the Obama administration had said that the money would show up in employees’ next paychecks after the shutdown ended last week, the Interior’s Department’s Business Center scheduled an “off-cycle” payment today for most Interior employees, along with many of those at NASA, the National Science Foundation and 39 other agencies who also get their paychecks through the center, spokesman Mike Fernandez said in an email.
The payments came one week ahead of the next normal biweekly pay date, Oct. 29, Fernandez said, and represented an effort “to provide retroactive pay as quickly as possible.” The center, which last month suffered a processing glitch that delayed some paychecks, handles payroll for about 240,000 employees.
For all the talk of gold-plated federal pay and benefits, the American Federation of Government Employees estimates that some 250,000 feds don’t enroll in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) because they can’t afford the premiums.
If you fall in that category, Federal Times wants to get your view on whether the Affordable Care Act (widely known as “Obamacare”) will help provide coverage or not. To weigh in, please call Staff Writer Sean Reilly at 703-750-8684 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks very much!
Beth Cobert’s arrival at the Office of Management and Budget is getting a particularly warm welcome from Steve VanRoekel, the federal chief information officer. In a Twitter message this afternoon, VanRoekel hailed Cobert ‘s confirmation as OMB’s deputy director for management, noting that he can now go back to being “full-time US CIO!”
Cobert, who comes from consulting firm McKinsey & Co., was sworn in today, five days after winning Senate confirmation. She replaces Jeff Zients, who stepped down at the end of April; on top of his day job, VanRoekel had been filling in as deputy management director since May. Also applauding Cobert’s confirmation was Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Throughout the executive branch, the deputy management director plays a “critical leadership role” in “helping to guide agencies through these challenging financial times and promoting long-term management reforms that will deliver both better results and savings for taxpayers,” Carper said in a statement today. Cobert’s “private sector experience has prepared her well for this role,” he said, “and I look forward to working with her as she helps promote better management throughout our government.”
For anyone who’s keeping score, incidentally, this is the first time since January 2012 that the three top posts (director, deputy director for budget and deputy director for management) at OMB have all been filled by Senate-confirmed appointees.
Attention, Thrift Savings Plan participants: You can now check your online account information at tsp.gov more easily via smartphone.
Although the site was previously available via phone, the mobile version is designed to work with Android and iOS operating systems to provide an “optimal viewing experience,” the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said in a news release today. (And there’s no need to download an app.)
The board actually launched the mobile version Sept. 30, but held off from an announcement because of the partial government shutdown that began the next day, spokeswoman Kim Weaver said. The word is apparently getting around, though. Just in the last week, there have been more than 60,000 smartphone log-ons to the mobile version of tsp.gov, according to the release.
As agencies come back to life, there’s a lot of housekeeping to attend to. In guidance released this morning, the Office of Personnel Management tackles a topic of interest to any fed furloughed during the 16-day partial government shutdown: How agencies should handle retirement contributions, “use or lose” annual leave and other complications. Check it out!
The 16-day partial government shutdown is officially over as President Obama has signed a stop-gap spending bill, Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell said in a message released early Thursday morning.
“This evening, the President signed a continuing resolution that reopens the federal government and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance to all departments and agencies to resume operations in a prompt and orderly manner,” Burwell said. “In the days ahead, we will work closely with departments and agencies to make the transition back to full operating status as smooth as possible. This has been a particularly challenging time for Federal employees and I want to thank our nation’s dedicated civil servants for their continued commitment to serving the American people.”
Feds will receive back pay in their next paychecks, a Burwell spokesman said in a follow-up email. Agencies are “strongly encouraged” to use telework and other ”workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work for employees,” OPM said in a statement on its website.
The bill, approved today by the House and Senate, will fund the government through Jan. 15.
The legislation would also allow a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase for federal employees, according to a joint news release from Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Ben Cardin, D-Md. The release does not make clear whether added steps will be needed to ensure that the proposed raise takes effect. Here is a cut-and-paste version of the release:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today announced that the bipartisan legislation to end the Tea Party Republican shutdown and reopen the federal government allows a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees and ensures that federal employees furloughed through no fault of their own receive their full pay.
“I’m proud to have fought on the front lines for federal employee pay as hard as federal employees fight on the front lines each and every day for America,” Senator Mikulski said. “The promise of a modest pay raise and back pay for furloughed government employees are good first steps in recognizing the value of federal workers. They have been the targets of unending attacks. They’ve been furloughed, laid off and locked out through no fault of their own. I believe federal employees should never be scapegoats in fights over deficit reduction.”
“The government shutdown was a real punch in the gut to federal workers who were already reeling from multi-year pay freezes, sequestration cuts and furloughs, as well as threats to health and retirement benefits. These hardworking public servants did not cause our economic crisis, but they paid a heavy price. I’m proud we were able to fulfill our promise to make them whole again with back pay and finally break through the pay freeze with a modest adjustment for next year,” said Senator Cardin. “As they return to doing their work on behalf of the American people, I will continue to fight to keep federal workers from being pawns in every budget battle that lies ahead.”
As Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Mikulski fought to ensure the final agreement to reopen the federal government would permit the President to implement his plan for a 1 percent pay raise in January, 2014. Senator Cardin introduced the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, which was cosponsored by Senators Mikulski, Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The Cardin bill, which was included in the final agreement approved Wednesday, guaranteed that federal workers who were furloughed because of the lapse in federal funding or government shutdown would receive their full pay.
Federal employee pay has been frozen for three years with no cost-of-living adjustments, leaving families stressed and stretched. They have been subjected to rolling furloughs since March due to sequester and have also been required to pay 2.3 percent more from their salaries into their retirement plans.
Maryland is home to the headquarters of 20 major federal agencies, from the Social Security Administration to the Food and Drug Administration. More than 130,000 federal employees live and work in Maryland, serving the nation and serving the world.
The bipartisan legislation passed today funds the government through January 15, 2014 and extends our nation’s debt limit through February 7, 2014. It also starts the budget conference that Democrats have been fighting to start for the past six months so Congress can come together on a long-term solution. The House and the Senate will name conferees and the agreement will call for the budget conference to finish by December 13th. The legislation now moves to the White House to be signed into law by President Obama.