Monthly Archives: August, 2013

Crash landing


While many feds sit in the office most of the day, a few at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., recently spent their work day smashing a Marine CH-46E helicopter fuselage filled with 15 dummy passengers into the ground. The experiment aimed to test seats and seat belts and gauge the odds of surviving a helicopter crash. You can read more about the testing here, but for an inside look at what goes on when a helicopter falls from 30 feet, check out the video released by NASA. The guys in the front row didn’t seem to far too…

Fellowship program ISO feds interested in Japan


The Mansfield Fellowship Program is looking for a few good federal employees interested in spending some quality time in Japan. The program, named for the late Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Mont., who also served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, couples seven weeks of language training with ten months in Japan placed with the government and other organizations. The program is designed for 10 fellows; more information is available here. Among other requirements, fellows must have two consecutive years of federal service by next July, obtain their agencies’ approval and be willing to spend at least another two years with the…

OPM administering new benefits survey


The Office of Personnel Management is again asking feds what they think of their benefits, according a recently posted memo on the agency’s web site. OPM will be administering the Federal Employee Benefits Survey this summer by email to a random sample of workers, acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan said in the Aug. 13 heads-up.  The survey was last done two years ago after traditional benefits questions were dropped in 2010 from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Completing the benefits survey should take about 15 minutes and doing it during work hours is OK, Kaplan indicated. The survey’s chief purpose…

MSPB gaining ground on furlough appeals


The Merit Systems Protection Board is making headway in containing an unprecedented surge in appeals fueled by Defense Department employee furloughs. As of yesterday, the board had docketed almost 16,600 appeals, or about half the total. It now expects to have most of the remainder done soon after Labor Day and then begin the adjudication process for the DoD cases, according to the latest update posted on its home page. Challenges of sequester-related furloughs–most of them from Defense Department workers–have swollen the MSPB’s workload to roughly five times its normal level. Consider some numbers provided today by Board Clerk William…

NARFE debuts retirement ticker to show federal brain drain


How to dramatize the largely hidden loss of experience and expertise as federal workers call it quits? Here’s the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association’s solution:  On its web site, the group has built an online ticker  that seeks to track the impact of that exodus down to the hour. Based on Office of Personnel Management data, NARFE calculates that the nation has lost an average of 10,000 years of federal worker experience every day since Jan. 1. It also suggests that the current political and fiscal climate is not inconsequential. “Sure, people retire,” the group says on the…

Postal Service IG launches review of agency conference spending


The Postal Service’s Inspector General’s office is launching a review of conference spending at the agency. The office said that conferences can be an effective method of communication or they can be abused. Agencies have made great strides to reduce those costs by promoting teleconferencing and reducing the number of meetings, the office said in an Aug. 21 announcement. “We are conducting research to determine if the Postal Service properly accounted for and evaluated Postal Service initiatives to reduce meeting and conference costs,” the announcement said. The inspector general’s office is also asking attendees at recent Postal Service conferences and…

EPA cancels Aug. 30 furlough day


More than 17,000 Environmental Protection Agency employees will be spared a final furlough day that had been scheduled for Aug. 30, Administrator Gina McCarthy announced today. In a message to EPA staff, McCarthy attributed the decision to savings found elsewhere in the agency’s budget. “The choices we made are difficult, but we continue to be flexible—applying good management decisions to ensure we continue to carry out our mission and reduce the impact of sequestration on each employee,” McCarthy said, according to a transcript provided by the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many EPA staff. In recent weeks, the…

Have you been affected by travel spending cuts?


Travel spending at federal agencies have been cut drastically in the last year or two. OMB asked agencies to cut travel spending and in some cases agencies cut them by up to 30 percent. How have all of you been affected by these drastic cuts in travel spending? Feel free to comment below or to email me at

IBM to integrate Air Force pay, personnel systems


The Air Force on Monday awarded IBM an $11.8 million contract to integrate its military personnel and pay processes into one system. As part of the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System Program (AF-IPPS), IBM will design “an enterprise resource planning-based solution to meet all personnel and pay requirements,” according to a Defense Department announcement. Work is expected to be completed by December 2014. The new personnel and pay system will replace the Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS) and the Defense Joint Military Pay System (DJMS) for the Air Force, according to a December 2012 Mitre report. The new system will…

DHS gets new cybersecurity chief


A senior officer at McAfee, Inc., will be the newest deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity at the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, according to an Aug. 19 blog post by secretary Janet Napolitano Phillis Schneck, the vice president for the global public sector at McAfee, Inc., has also held positions at IBM, NASA, the University of Maryland, CygnaCom solutions, and other companies. Phyllis has been a close partner in our cybersecurity mission for many years. She served for eight years as chairman of the FBI’s InfraGard National Board of Directors and founding president of InfraGard Atlanta, growing the InfraGard…

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