Monthly Archives: July, 2009

Postal Service to review 1,000 post offices for closure

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The U.S. Postal Service wants to study roughly 1,000 post offices for possible closure – the latest cost-cutting step from an agency that is scrambling to deal with a projected $7 billion deficit this year and larger losses in 2010. The agency started its review earlier this year with approximately 3,200 post offices, and decided about 1,000 of them are “candidates for further review.” Postal managers say they will consider several factors in deciding whether to close those facilities: mail volume, proximity to other post offices, and the potential savings in labor and utility costs. Post offices only generate about…

FEHBP open season starts Nov. 9

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The Office of Personnel Management just released guidance on the upcoming open season for choosing next year’s plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Federal employees will be able to select health, dental and vision insurance plans and enroll in a Flexible Spending Account between Nov. 9 and Dec. 14. Anyone already enrolled in a health, dental or vision plan will stay enrolled in their current plan unless they choose to change or cancel it. But Flexible Spending Accounts don’t carry over from one year to another — enrollees must set up an account again if they want to keep directing pretax…

OMB to release procurement policies today!

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The Office of Management and Budget will release three policy memos today that promise to reform how government uses contractors. One memo directs agencies on how to manage the multi-sector workforce. This memo states that agencies don’t have a handle on how contractor employees are used in their offices. It orders agencies to: Coordinate their program, human capital, acquisition and finance offices to strategically plan for outsourcing. Conduct a pilot program to test multi-sector workforce management plans Develop guidelines to insource inherently governmental functions, work that closely supports those functions and work that could be more cheaply performed by federal…

Senator: Feds welcome in Orlando, Las Vegas

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Sen. Bill Nelson isn’t happy that some federal agencies are shying away from booking conventions and training sessions in resort cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas. After media reports that some federal agencies had formal or informal policies to avoid scheduling conferences in resort areas because of image concerns, Nelson, D-Fla., took to the Senate floor Monday to defend his state’s reputation. When you compare the cost of a hotel room in Orlando during the season with the cost of a hotel room, let’s say, in Washington, D.C., during the season, you will find that the Orlando hotels on…

USPS joins GAO high-risk list

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Update, 11:43 a.m.: Here’s a slightly eye-popping statistic from the GAO report: The Postal Service is projecting a $7 billion loss in FY2010 (next year) — even after reducing its expenses by $8 billion. Put another way, there is a $15 billion gap between the Postal Service’s projected FY2010 revenues and its current expenses. Update, 11:37 a.m.: That was quick. Here’s GAO’s report (pdf) about why the Postal Service is on the list. Update, 11:25 a.m.: Here’s a link to GAO’s current 2009 high-risk list (pdf). The list was started in 1990 and is updated biennially; it documents agencies that…

Why is the Fed so unpopular?

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A new Gallup poll finds the Federal Reserve is the least popular among nine “key” federal agencies. You can read the poll as an example of why government transparency is important — because the Fed’s low ranking is due, in part, to its opacity. There’s a serious debate in economics circles right now about the Fed’s performance during the economic crisis, and whether Ben Bernanke should be reappointed. But I doubt most of Gallup’s respondents are privy to that debate; many Americans simply don’t understand what the Fed does. It’s just an opaque entity that handles the economy — and…

FedFleet: By the numbers

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FedFleet, the year’s biggest conference for federal fleet managers, officially begins tomorrow in Chicago (although lots of folks are there already, attending agency-sponsored meetings and getting ready for tonight’s welcome reception at Chicago’s Navy Pier). I’m flying out this afternoon from Washington, but before I do I thought I’d share a few interesting facts that come directly from Becky Rhodes, deputy associate administrator of govermentwide policy at the General Services Administration, which is hosting the conference: 1,490 people were registered to attend the conference as of July 17, which is up slightly from the 1,449 people who attended last year’s…

A few billion here and there

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The latest report (pdf) from the Postal Service’s inspector general looks at the payment schedule for the retiree health care trust fund. It concludes that the Postal Service is overpaying. A lot. If the Postal Service continues the payment schedule required by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (the Act), our calculations indicate that the Postal Service could overfund its retiree health care liability by $13.2 billion by the end of fiscal year 2016. The Postal Service could pay on average $4.0 billion less each year from FYs 2009 to 2016 to prefund its retiree health benefits and…

Towns: Health care bill requires some FEHBP benefit changes

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House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns said in a letter yesterday that the health care bill now before Congress would require “some administrative and a small number of benefits-related adjustments” to some plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Those changes would be necessary to make sure all FEHBP plans meet the government’s standards of a “qualified health benefits plan,” Towns said in his letter to Ranking Republican Darrell Issa. The health care bill, HR 3200, would require all citizens to have a minimum level of insurance coverage through a qualified health benefits plan or other form of…

NFFE names new secretary-treasurer

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The National Federation of Federal Employees has appointed William Fenaughty as its new national secretary-treasurer. The post was previously held by William Dougan, who took over the organization after National President Richard Brown died June 30. Fenaughty was approved unanimously by NFFE’s National Executive Council Friday and will take office in the next few weeks, according to a news release. Dougan said Fenaughty will bring great experience to the job. There could not be a better man for the job as far as I’m concerned. His knowledge of the issues, opportunities and challenges our union faces brings much-needed expertise to…

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