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FMA Washington Report: May 10, 2024

This report provides an update on issues affecting federal managers. As always, I encourage you to visit www.fedmanagers.org on a regular basis for more information on these and other matters.

Also, be sure to look for the monthly FMA Grassroots Update, where we offer links to action letters and FMA-PAC matters we do not address in the Washington Report. The grassroots newsletter is sent exclusively to non-governmental email addresses to avoid any Hatch Act violations. If you are not receiving it, contact the national office to provide your non-governmental email address.

Please feel free to provide feedback any time by emailing Greg Stanford at gstanford@fedmanagers.org or by calling the National Office at (703) 683-8700. Thank you for your membership in FMA. It’s an honor to represent your interests before Congress and the administration.

Agency Outreach
Rob Shriver Assumes OPM Reins as Acting Director

On May 6 Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Deputy Director Rob Shriver announced he has been appointed Acting Director of the agency. This followed the April 16 announcement that then-Director Kiran Ahuja was stepping down from her position.

FMA has worked with Shriver during his time at OPM and looks forward to continuing the good working relationship we have developed with him in his new role. In addition to working as deputy director, Shriver has served the agency as deputy general counsel for policy, associate director of national healthcare operations, and associate director for employee services.

Ahuja leaves OPM as the longest serving director in more than ten years at the agency.

IRS Commissioner Makes Case for Funding

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on Tuesday, May 7, urging appropriators to extend the funding boost for the agency included in the Inflation Reduction Act through Fiscal Year 2034. The hearing allowed Werfel to testify on behalf of President Biden’s budget request for FY2025.

Current funding for the agency would allow for 25,000 IRS employees for taxpayer services. Werfel stressed that the agency needs 38,000 employees to meet demand from the nation’s taxpayers.

Social Security Administration Announces New Efforts to Improve Customer Service

In early May, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a new online tool to track its performance on improving its customer service goals. Social Security Administration Commissioner Martin O’Malley, sworn into office in December 2023, launched Security Stat, an “agencywide cross-cutting performance management program” in February 2024. You can access the tracker at www.ssa.gov/SecurityStat.

“SecurityStat offers a new and unprecedented level of transparency for Social Security’s stakeholders and customers,” said SSA Commissioner O’Malley. “Now, on our new SecurityStat website, the public can easily view the progress we are making on certain priorities, like our 800 Number performance, average processing time for disability determinations, and average processing time for retirement, survivor, and Medicare benefit claims.”

Biden Revokes COVID Executive Orders

On April 12, President Biden formally revoked three COVID-related Executive Orders issued in 2020 and 2021 that sought to prevent the hoarding of medical supplies, required mask-wearing in federal facilities, and created the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. Biden revoked those orders with an Executive Order on COVID-19 and Public Health Preparedness and Response, which you can read here.

OPM – Retirement Quick Guide

Are you approaching retirement? The Office of Personnel Management website offers a Retirement Quick Guide that shares what feds can expect as they navigate the retirement application process, how benefits are determined, and guidelines related to their interim and annuity payments. You can also view a three-page printable PDF version of the quick guide here: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-center/retirement-quick-guide/opm-retirement-quick-guide.pdf.

What's Affecting Feds?
Biden Calls for 2 Percent Pay Raise for 2025

President Biden is calling for a 2.0 percent raise for the federal workforce in 2025. Federal Managers Association (FMA) National President Craig Carter issued a press release on the day the President released his budget request. Carter expressed full support for the 4.5 percent raise proposed for the uniformed military in 2025, but also urged the President and Congress to provide an equal raise for federal employees, rather than the proposed 2.0 percent.

“For very good reasons, pay parity has a longstanding tradition and should be honored in 2025, Carter wrote. “While feds received a bigger boost in 2024, federal pay continues to lag far behind inflation, and retention of feds remains a severe risk. The Federal Salary Council reported in November 2023 that federal workers earned more than 27 percent less than private sector counterparts, a growing disparity that will only force more of the best and brightest out of federal service. In January, FMA endorsed the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates (FAIR) Act (H.R. 7127 / S. 3688), which would provide for a 7.4 percent pay raise in 2025. We will continue to advocate for the FAIR Act this year,” Carter said.

Federal Managers Association Applauds New Rule Aimed at Keeping Civil Service Non-Partisan

On April 4, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published the final rule to reinforce and clarify protections for a non-partisan career civil service. The Federal Managers Association (FMA) supports the new rules and submitted comments during the rulemaking process. FMA National President Craig Carter made the following comments upon publication of the final rule:

“On behalf of the managers and supervisors currently serving our nation in the federal government, and whose interests are represented by the Federal Managers Association, we are pleased for the implementation of the new rules clarifying and protecting the longstanding merit-based system governing our civil service. FMA commented in favor of the proposed rule and the effort to reinforce and clarify important civil service protections for federal employees who may shift from the competitive service to the excepted service, or from one excepted service schedule to another.

Legislative Outreach
Latest Motion to Vacate the House Speaker’s Office Fails

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R- LA) will remain in the top position in the House of Representatives for now, after a motion to vacate was tabled by an overwhelming majority vote of 359-43. Johnson has faced criticism from some due to recent appropriations and an aid package for Ukraine.

While the failed motion to vacate was filed weeks ago, the vote this week came as a surprise to many in the House. Johnson met earlier in the week with some of his critics, and the effort was put on hold at that time. Eleven Republicans voted to move forward on the motion to vacate. While Johnson survived this effort, his harshest critics continue to threaten to pursue another motion to vacate the office of the Speaker in the future.

FMA Submits Testimony for House Subcommittee Hearing on GPO/WEP

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision (GPO/WEP) on April 16. Repeal of these provisions, which reduce Social Security benefits for millions of Americans, is a longstanding FMA issue brief, and FMA National President Craig Carter submitted testimony for the official record of the hearing.

The Social Security Government Pension Offset law prevents government retirees who receive a government pension, but did not pay into Social Security, from collecting both a government annuity based on their own work, and Social Security benefits based on their spouse's work record. This is unfair to many spouses, especially widows, who often lose the Social Security protection their spouse provided for them. Under current law, a Social Security widow’s benefit is reduced by $2 for every $3 earned if the widow is eligible for a pension based on a public sector job that was not covered by Social Security. According to the Congressional Research Service , as of December 2022, more than 730,000 Social Security beneficiaries had their benefits reduced by the GPO, with 52 percent widows and 48 percent widow(er)s. No such offset affects spouses receiving pensions from private sector employers.

Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Cap Telework in Federal Workforce at 40 Percent

On May 7, Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Back to Work Act (S. 4266), legislation that would cap federal employee’s telework usage at 40 percent of a pay period. The bill could also jeopardize current remote work agreements for most feds.

“It has been nearly a year since President Biden formally ended COVID-19 public health emergency declarations, yet most of our federal office buildings remain empty -- wasting millions of taxpayer dollars every day. Americans deserve to have a federal workforce that is both present and productive,” Senator Romney said in a press release upon introduction. “Our bipartisan legislation would require federal employees to work in the office for a majority of the time, while still allowing reasonable flexibility for telework. Federal employees play an important role in ensuring that the government works for the American people, and it is past time for them to get back into the office to do the work that our constituents expect from their government.”

Get Involved At These Events!
Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey Coming Soon

On April 26, the Office of Personnel Management announced the annual Federal Employment Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) will launch and hit email inboxes beginning in mid-May. OPM uses this tool to get a snapshot of federal employee opinions on employee engagement, morale, and factors related to their work experience. Agencies cite the results in making decisions affecting feds, and the Partnership for Public Service uses the data for its annual Best Places to Work in government rankings.

OPM Director Kiran Ahuja briefed agencies about the survey in a memo. “The FEVS remains a true data asset for every single participating agency, providing leadership with a reliable method for capturing and analyzing employee feedback, benchmarking successes, and identifying emerging opportunities and challenges, keys to retaining the best employees and recruiting talented new hires into the Federal government. Overall, the FEVS is one of the most powerful platforms for Federal employees to share their work experience, a voice critical to achieving effective agencies and responsive public service in times of significant change and adaptation. To promote candid feedback from agency employees, OPM prioritizes the confidentiality of participant responses and the protection of participants' personal data throughout the FEVS process. Survey results are aggregated for reporting purposes, and results for work units are only reported when ten or more employees in the unit participate,” Ahuja wrote.

Public Service Recognition Week: May 5-11, 2024

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) 2024 is nearly over. Celebrated since 1985, PSRW occurs during the first week of May to honor civil servants across the country. Visit Performance.gov for a virtual toolkit on how to celebrate PSRW this year. You can access the toolkit directly at this link.

President Biden issued a proclamation on May 3 to celebrate PSRW. “Our Nation’s over 20 million public servants work hard to deliver for our families, communities, and country,” Biden wrote. “Their work matters to people’s everyday lives: They keep neighborhoods safe and the buses running, and build futures for people in their hometowns. They are the lifeblood of our democracy, acting as brave first responders, election workers, and service members defending our country. This week, we recognize our Nation’s public servants, who do the humble yet critical work of keeping our country running.” To read the full proclamation, click here.

Free Webinars Available for Feds on OPM’s Future of the Workforce Playbook

In February, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) shared a new Workforce of the Future Playbook supporting "a federal workforce that is inclusive, agile and engaged, and equipped with the right skills to deliver for the American people." The Playbook provides actions that agencies can take to build and equip the workforce of the future, incorporating new strategies and sharing best practices across government. OPM will make periodic updates on the Workforce of the Future webpage.

OPM is hosting free virtual informational webinars about specific topics from the playbook in the coming months to give managers and supervisors an opportunity to take a deep dive into the specific topics, such as implementing pooled hiring, skills-based hiring, cultivating early career talent, supporting employee health and well-being, fostering an inclusive work environment and much more. Hear from subject matter experts, learn from other agencies about promising practices, and engage in a lively Q&A session. The remaining schedule for the Workforce of the Future Playbook webinars is as follows:


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