Monthly Archives: May, 2012

Postmasters: What do you think of the buyout offer?


In connection with a story, Federal Times is interested in getting postmasters’ views on the $20,000 buyouts that the Postal Service is offering. Does this look like a good deal to you (or not)? Are you considering it and, if so, what factors are on your mind? If you’d like to discuss this, please shoot me (Sean Reilly) an email at and let me know how best to reach you or give me a call directly at 703-750-8684. Thanks very much. Sean

NIST explains cloud computing in plain language


The National Institute for Standards and Technology wants to demystify cloud computing. NIST released a special publication on Tuesday to “explain cloud systems in plain language” and provide information technology executives with recommendations, concerns and the benefits of migrating to the cloud. The 81-page document explains the level of service agencies can expect in various cloud environments and what potential pitfalls they should be aware of, such as abrupt changes in service agreements by the cloud providers and scheduled service outages, depending on the type of cloud.  Recommendations include: – Develop a plan for migrating data to and from the cloud and for…

Are you a victim of the TSP hack?


Did you get a letter this week informing you that your Social Security number and other personal information was stolen in last July’s hacking of a Thrift Savings Plan data center? If so, Federal Times would like to speak to you. E-mail me at if you’d like to talk. If you’d prefer to speak anonymously, that’s fine.

U.S. Postal Service cutback numbers: Handle with care


When it comes to predicting the impact of its proposed mail processing plant cuts, the U.S. Postal Service has been throwing out some pretty big numbers that don’t always seem to jibe. Back in February, for example, a USPS spokesman said the downsizing would eliminate 35,000 jobs; under a revised plan unveiled this month, that figure dropped to 28,000. And while USPS officials have pegged the projected savings at about $2.1 billion, they’ve also used the figure, $4.1 billion. What gives? Well, it’s complicated and some of the figures are in flux, the Postal Service acknowledges. The estimated job effect,…

Postal Service offering mail handlers $15,000 buyouts


It’s official: The U.S. Postal Service is dangling more employee buyouts. The buyouts, available to most mail handlers, will amount to $15,000 total, payable in separate $7,500 installments this December and December 2013, according to a Thursday bulletin on a Postal Service web site. With a few exceptions, all career employees covered by the Postal Service’s national agreement with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union are eligible, the bulletin says. Full-time employees wanting to sign up must do so by July 2, and agree to leave or retire by Aug. 31. Part-time career mail handlers are eligible on a pro-rated…

Appearances notwithstanding, transparency board still at work


Casual observers might be forgiven for thinking that things are a bit slow over at the Government Accountability and Transparency Board.  This is the 11-member panel, you may recall, created last summer by President Obama as “a critical next step” in White House efforts to cut costs, crack down on fraud and open up the government’s books to the public. Almost five months after the board’s chairman, Earl Devaney, retired, Obama hasn’t named a replacement. During the same time, the panel, made up mostly of inspectors general and financial management folk, has met just once, in April. But work on recommendations…

Library of Congress to preserve Prince, Bo Diddley, 'Rapper's Delight'


The Library of Congress said today it will preserve everything from a tinny 1888 recording of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to Prince’s incendiary album “Purple Rain” as part of its latest slate of entries to the National Recording Registry. The Library each year preserves 25 recordings it feels are “cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures for generations to come.” This year, a wide variety of recordings will be added, including: Bo Diddley’s songs “Bo Diddley” and “I’m A Man,” Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” recognized as the first hit rap song, Booker T and the MG’s “Green Onions,” Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy soundtrack…

Survey: Feds see short-term goals as barrier to sustainability efforts


The biggest barrier to agency sustainability efforts is a focus on short-term objectives over longer-term goals, according to 51 percent of federal employees interviewed in a survey released Wednesday More than 36 percent also said they don’t have enough resources for sustainability programs at their agency, according to LMI, a nonprofit organization that helped develop greenhouse gas reporting protocols. Jennifer Bitting, a senior consultant and environmental engineer at LMI, said feds are under pressure to accomplish short-term goals such as acquisitions, construction or budget requests as opposed to longer-term energy efficiency and environmental targets. “Sustainability is like a marathon and…

Senators to GSA: Focus on structural reforms to Public Buildings Service


The General Services Administration should focus on structural changes to its Public Buildings Service, a group of senators from both parties said in a May 21 letter to GSA’s acting administrator Dan Tangherlini. Senators Tom Carper, D-Del., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said in the letter that GSA should also address “long-standing property management problems” in order to minimize wasteful spending. GSA is conducting an agencywide review after an embarrassing scandal that centered on a lavish 2010 conference in Las Vegas that cost $822,000 for 300 employees. The scandal forced out the agency’s top leaders,…

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