Browsing: 2012 Budget

Job security in uncertain budget times


Are you a federal or contractor IT professional who’s concerned about job security and workplace morale during these uncertain budget times? Are you considering work elsewhere, or are you hoping for the best and staying put in your current position? Federal Times would like to hear from you. Contact Nicole Johnson at 703-750-8145 or

G-Fund and postal benefits fund made whole, GAO says


It’s official: The Thrift Savings Plan’s G-Fund is back to full strength after losing almost $400 million courtesy of last year’s debt ceiling showdown. The confirmation comes from a Government Accountability Office review of the Treasury Department’s maneuvering to head off an unprecedented U.S. default after Congress initially deadlocked over raising the nation’s borrowing limit. The standoff was resolved (at least temporarily) last August with approval of the Budget Control Act, which traded a debt-ceiling increase for spending cuts. But in the months before the act’s passage, Treasury resorted to a number of “extraordinary actions” to buy time. One involved…

The SAVE award competition is back


Attention, feds: It’s once again your chance to change the government, or at least one small piece of it, as the Obama administration this week launched the fourth annual SAVE Award competition. If not quite on par with the summer Olympics (another competition getting under way  shortly), the contest does provide a useful outlet for federal employees with tips for cutting costs or improving efficiency. And there are plenty of them; according to the White House, the previous three competitions have drawn more than 75,000 ideas. You have to get your suggestions in before July 24, but can encourage your…

Following budget cut, inspector general slashes staff by half


After their agency took an almost 50 percent budget hit, officials with the inspector general that monitors AmeriCorps and other community service programs warned that big reductions in staffing and oversight weren’t far behind. They weren’t bluffing. From 33 employees in mid-January, the IG’s workforce has since shrunk to 17—in part because of a reduction-in-force–and another four employees are expected to leave soon for other jobs, Counsel Vincent Mulloy said in an email last week. The office’s acting chief, deputy IG Ken Bach, was “heartened” that many employees were able to find work elsewhere, Mulloy said, “and regretted that he…

Senate scuttles measure that would have required billions in program cuts this year


Federal program managers may be breathing a little easier this afternoon after the Senate killed an amendment that would have ordered the Obama administration to zap at least $10 billion from this year’s budget. Although the provision, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., received a simple majority of 52 votes, that total fell short of the 60-vote supermajority needed to add it to a highway spending bill.  Under the amendment, the Office of Management and Budget would have had to use its administrative authority to “eliminate, consolidate and streamline” duplicative and overlapping programs singled out by the Government Accountability Office…

Carper seeks trip details from Postal Regulatory Commission chairman


As expected, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has formally asked Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway to explain all official travel since she assumed the position 2-1/2  years ago. In a letter to Goldway sent today, Carper sought a detailed itinerary and justification for each official trip she’s taken–along with similar information for her two most recent predecessors—by Feb. 20. Carper, who chairs a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service and the PRC, also requested details on the commission’s travel policy and any procedures in place to prevent wasteful or unneeded travel. “Given the Postal Service’s ongoing financial…

Reduction-in-force looming at inspector general's office


The RIF clock is officially ticking for most of the staff at the inspector general’s office for the Corporation for National and Community Service. Reduction-in-force packages went out Friday to 26 of the office’s 33 employees, said spokesman Bill Hillburg, who was among those receiving notification that he could be out of a job by March 17. “It can change for some if some folks find work elsewhere, but unless funding is found and restored,  [it’s] irrevocable,” Hillburg said in an email. The move comes after Congress whacked the IG’s funding by almost half to $4 million in a fiscal…

Postal Service's 2011 losses narrow (but only because of a gimmick)


If only on paper, the U.S. Postal Service’s financial condition has just shown some stunning improvement. That’s because Congress pushed back a $5.5 billion retiree health care payment originally due last Friday (i.e., Sept. 30) until Nov. 18, according to short-term spending legislation approved in the last week. Sept. 30 was the final day of fiscal 2011, for which the Postal Service had been predicting a total loss of about $10 billion, in part because of that legally required retiree health care obligation.  With that payment now delayed until November, the expected 2011 deficit plummets to $4.5 billion. Of course, the…

Living people to be pictured on postage stamps and other USPS news


Once again, there’s so much happening with the U.S. Postal Service that it seems simplest to package (no pun intended) the latest developments together. Here goes: 1) In that rare bit of news that doesn’t revolve around the mail carrier’s cratering finances, the Postal Service today announced that it’s changed a long-standing policy so living people can be depicted on postage stamps. Under the previous guidelines, an individual had to be dead for at least five years to be so honored; starting next year, Americans “will see acclaimed musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and nationally-known figures” on stamps while they’re…

Funding extension bill for FAA and highways now on deck


Some welcome news for Federal Aviation Administration employees: A soon-to-be-introduced bill would extend funding  authorization for various FAA programs through the end of January. It would be the latest in the series of stopgap extensions, the most recent of which expires this coming Friday, Sept. 16. The bill, posted Friday night on the House Rules Committee’s website, is sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla. It can’t actually be introduced before Monday, a Mica spokesman said in an email. Whatever happens after that, FAA employees can only hope that the ensuing congressional debate proceeds a little more decorously than the last time…

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