Federal employees will be able to take leave to attend to their sick or deceased domestic partners beginning July 14, under final regulations issued today by the Office of Personnel Management.
Feds also will be able to take up to 13 days of sick leave to care for their domestic partners or their partners’ parents, children or grandchildren. And agencies will be able to advance feds up to 13 days of sick leave if they are out of leave.
Take note that these changes will apply equally to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual domestic partnerships. The Obama administration recently extended long term care and other benefits to only same-sex domestic partnerships. OPM said that heterosexual partnerships were not included in those changes because straight couples can gain those benefits through marriage. The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The five healthiest federal chefs in the Washington area will square off Wednesday afternoon at the Office of Personnel Management’s headquarters. The finalists in OPM’s Feds Get Fit Healthy Recipe Challenge will cook their original, tasty meals for judges, and the winner will be published in a special Feds Get Fit cookbook.
Recipes will be judged by OPM Director John Berry, nutritionist and chef Robyn Webb, Top Chef finalist Carla Hall, and former New England Patriot Darryl Haley. Berry has made encouraging federal employee wellness a top priority at OPM.
The finalists come from the Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development and Interior departments, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Social Security Administration.
I’ve made no secret of my skepticism about the Obama administration’s purported desire to “make government cool again.” But Matt Collier, a senior advisor to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, is sticking with it, and at IRMCO this morning threw out a recruitment pitch I honestly had never considered:
You know there’s someone in the Inspector General’s office at Homeland Security who has to do penetration tests. How cool is it to try to sneak a gun through airport security?
Traffic’s gonna be ugly next week in Washington — way uglier than usual. President Obama and the leaders of more than 40 other countries will be meeting at the Washington Convention Center Monday and Tuesday for a major nuclear weapons summit, and several nearby streets will be completely closed. So the Office of Personnel Management is advising Washington-area federal employees to telework or use alternative work schedules on Monday and Tuesday.
The road closures are likely to snarl traffic throughout downtown Washington, and parking restrictions, detoured buses and the temporary closure of the Mount Vernon Square Metro Station won’t help either.
OPM Director John Berry yesterday issued a memo to the government’s chief human capital officers that “strongly urged” eligible employees to telework. Employees under alternative work schedules were also advised to take Monday or Tuesday off. Non-essential, non-emergency employees can request to use annual leave, leave without pay, or compensatory time off to steer clear of the District those days. OPM advises employees who have to show up next week to carpool or take the Metro to reduce traffic, but be prepared for your commute to take a lot longer than normal.
Remember how much fun it was driving that first week after the snowstorms? Sounds like we’re in for more of those good times.
As you may have heard by now, many senators are proposing to back off of creating a government-run health care plan to cover uninsured Americans and instead want to task the Office of Personnel Management with running a smorgasbord of private health insurance plans that would serve Americans needing coverage. Senators appear to be modeling the idea after the existing Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the health insurance program that serves about 8 million federal employees, retirees and their families.
Do you think that’s a good idea? Is OPM up to the challenge? Do you think such a plan might impact the FEHBP in some way?
Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md.,Â tomorrow morning will announce a new program to forgive theÂ student loansÂ of people who work in the public and nonprofit sectors for 10 years. Sarbanes’ Public Service Loan Forgiveness Option will cover civil servants, as well as teachers, some health professionals and public interest attorneys.
And beginning July 1, people enrolled in the program might also be able to lower their monthly student loan payments based on a debt to income ratio. Take a look at this online calculator from the Education DepartmentÂ to find out if you might qualify for an income-based repayment plan, and if so, how much your monthly payments might be.
Federal agencies will start collecting food nationwide underÂ the Feds Feed Families program this week, the Office of Personnel Management said. Canned and other unperishable food items will be picked up the last Friday in June, July and August, but agencies will put out cardboardÂ collection bins a few days earlier, OPM Director John Berry and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., saidÂ at a press conference at a Northern Virginia food pantry.
OPM itself already has filled theÂ 10 cardboard bins it has at the entrance to its Washington headquarters three times over, Berry said. The government hopes to collect 1 million pounds of food by the end of summer.
OPM launched the food drive because food banks often run low during the summer months, when people are often on vacation and forget to donate. Also, low-income children who are on summer vacation don’t get school lunches or breakfasts and could go hungry, Berry said:
So right when parents need the most help and they turn to the community food banks, unfortunately many of those shelves are getting thin, because the demands in our economic times are tough. [...] Federal employees know how blessed they are. They’ve got good jobs, they’re respected by their nation. This is an opportunity for them to give back to their communities and I know they’re going to step up to this plate.
And Berry said OPM is cooking up a contest to see which agency can donate the most pounds ofÂ food per employee, thoughÂ he hasn’t yet settled on aÂ prize.
OPM plans to track how much food has been donated at theÂ drive’s officialÂ Web site,Â www.fedsfeedfamilies.gov.
The Office of Personnel Management has a lofty goal for federal workers this summer, challenging them to donate one million pounds of food to the Capitol Area Food Bank.
OPM Director John Berry and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., will announce details of the “Feds Feed Families” national food drive Tuesday afternoon at Food For Others’ Virginia warehouse in Fairfax. They’ll be joined by Lynn Brantley, director of the Capitol Area Food Bank.
President Obama has called upon all Americans to give back to their local communities, and the federal workforce has quickly mobilized. This is an unprecedented undertaking by federal workers to meet the needs of our neighbors by collecting one million pounds of food in this short amount of time,” Berry said in a news release.
The Office of Personnel Management has buried the hatchet with Hewitt Associates over a faulty retirement calculator, according to a statement Hewitt released earlier today:
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Hewitt have settled their dispute related to the implementation of the RetireEZ program. OPM has rescinded its October 16, 2008 termination of the contract for default and the contract has now been terminated by mutual agreement.Â We’re happy this matter has been resolved and we believe bothÂ parties are pleased with the outcome.Â We look forward to continuing to deliver outsourced retirement solutions for our current and future clients.
OPM and Hewitt aren’t saying anything about the terms of the settlement, and aren’t saying how much, if any, money OPM has recovered from Hewitt. OPM paid Hewitt $21 million before stopping work on the contract in May; the contract was originally valued at $290 million over its 10-year lifecycle. Hewitt’s calculator passed only 33 percent of tests OPM administered in early 2008, when it was contractually obligated to pass testsÂ 95 percent of the time.
OPM still hasn’t decided how it will move forward on creating an automated annuity calculator, which was meant to ensure retirees no longer had to wait months to get their full pensions. “We’re assessing our options and will move accordingly,” OPM spokesman Mike Orenstein said.
The Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports this morning that John Berry, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park, has accepted an offer by President-elect Barack Obama to become director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Berry previously served as executive director of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the nation’s wildlife, and before that, as assistant secretary of the Interior Department for management. In the mid-1990s he directed government relations for the Smithsonian and, between 1985 and 1994, served as legislative director for Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
Among the first to welcome the news was the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley. In a statement released today, the union leader hailed Berry as someone who will “help return respect to the federal work force and help attract the best and the brightest to public service.” Kelley said she worked with Berry while he was an aide to Hoyer in the creation of the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act, which created locality pay rates and customized pay scales for specialized groups of federal employees, such as administrative law judges and certain law enforcement officials.
What do you think of the choice of Berry as OPM director? What will be his biggest challenges?