Monthly Archives: February, 2013

As sequestration looms, OMB tells agencies to detail plans for furloughs, contract cuts

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With the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration set to begin Friday, the Office of Management and Budget posted new planning instructions to agencies this evening. The bottom line: It’s time to get specific. Agencies should detail the number of employees who will be furloughed, for how long and when furlough notices will be issued, OMB Controller Danny Werfel wrote. Agencies should also spell out any major contracts they plan to cancel, re-scope or delay. Ditto for grants. Federal Times will have more on this subject tomorrow, but in the meantime, you can read Werfel’s memo here.

Former Social Security chief happy to reclaim free speech rights from OMB

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In a radio interview last week, former Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue voiced regret at leaving behind a workforce that he described as “very dedicated” and talented. Astrue, who stepped down earlier this month, was happier at no longer having to run his every statement—even including proposed messages to SSA employees about sequestration—past minders at the Office of Management and Budget. “I don’t miss having everything I say being cleared by a 28-year-old at OMB,” Astrue told WBUR, a National Public Radio member station in Boston. “And I’m not critical of OMB for that. Don’t get me wrong. I…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: 'Ghostbusters', 'Miracle on 34th St.'

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Welcome to a new ongoing feature here at FedLine: Silver Screen Feds! Your trusty FedLine bloggers don’t just breathe federal government news day in and day out. We’re also die-hard pop culture geeks, and nothing entertains us more than seeing how federal employees are portrayed on television and in film. Hollywood’s depiction of feds runs the gamut — from dashing heroes to hissable villains, from incompetent comic relief to self-sacrificing martyrs. In this series, we’re going to take a lighthearted look at the Best and Worst feds in television and movie history. Every Friday, we’ll profile two characters — one…

Furlough fears: We want to hear from you

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Federal Times would like to hear from federal employees about the upcoming furloughs that are looking more and more likely. How will losing 20 percent of your take-home pay — as might happen to most Defense Department employees — hit you and your family? What are you hearing from your managers? What is the threat of sequestration and furloughs doing for your office’s morale and productivity? E-mail Stephen Losey or Sean Reilly with your thoughts. If you’d like to stay anonymous, that’s fine.

How the U.S. Postal Service legally justifies five-day mail delivery

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For anyone with a background in appropriations law and a little time on their hands, FedLine has obtained a copy of the legal opinion that the U.S. Postal Service is using to justify its decision to end Saturday mail delivery this August. The gist: The long-standing congressional ban on curtailing six-day delivery doesn’t apply at present because the federal government is operating under a stopgap continuing resolution. And even if did apply, lawmakers don’t have to continue the ban when that resolution expires March 27, Postal Service lawyers write in the nine-page opinion. The underlying reasoning is complicated enough that…

Memo to feds: It could be worse

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No doubt, many federal employees will remember Feb. 20 as a dark day. The Defense Department formally unveiled plans to furlough most of its almost 800,000 civilian workers if sequestration comes to pass. More agencies could soon follow suit. But such sacrifices are old hat to state and local government employees who have been enduring stiff cutbacks since the economy tanked in 2008. In recent years, for example, dozens of states have furloughed employees, resorted to outright layoffs and/or required workers to pitch in more for benefits, according to a rundown by the National Conference of State Legislatures. One of…

GSA seeks industry input for cloud security program

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Federal officials are working to streamline the government’s security program for cloud products and services. A critical part of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)mandates that cloud vendors hire a third-party organization to verify they meet federal security requirements. Today, the General Services Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology must first approve those third party-organizations, or 3PAOs. Then there’s the task of monitoring the performance of the 3PAOs and recommending whether to renew or revoke their status. In a request for information to industry, GSA asked for input on how to privatize the accreditation process for 3PAOs. As FedRAMP…

Health insurance: What the Postal Service has in mind

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Lest anyone forget, Postmaster General Pat Donahoe remains keenly interested in creating a stand-alone health insurance plan for about 1.1 million U.S. Postal Service employees and retirees. The latest reminder came at last week’s Senate hearing on the USPS’s financial crisis. Although lawmakers’ attention was predictably focused on the agency’s decision to end Saturday mail delivery, Donahoe also stressed the urgency of pulling out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. “An astonishing 20 cents of every revenue dollar the Postal Service takes in must go toward health care costs,” Donahoe said in prepared testimony.  “By moving away from the…

Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker to resign

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The Veterans Affairs Department’s chief information officer told employees Friday he will resign, the department confirmed.   In a message to IT staff, Baker did not say when his last day will be and offered no explanation about his resignation. The DorobekINSIDER hinted that Baker may leave as soon as March 1. Here’s some of what Baker told employees: I would like to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication in serving our VA customers and our Nation’s Veterans.  Over the last four years, VA IT has come to be recognized as a leader in federal IT.  We have improved our…

GSA administrator appoints new agency CFO

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Dan Tangherlini, acting administrator of the General Services Administration, has appointed Michael Casella as the agency’s new chief financial officer, according to a Feb. 13 blog post. Casella managed the development and humanitarian assistance budget at USAID and has worked at the Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department. “This experience promises to provide us with significant insights into the needs of our customers,” Tangherlini said. The General Services Administration saw the resignation or firing of top leadership in April after an inspector general report detailed nearly $823,000 in wasteful spending at a 2010 conference in Las Vegas.…

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