Browsing: Labor

Senate votes to confirm new Labor secretary

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The Senate voted today to confirm Thomas Perez to be the next Secretary of Labor in a 54 to 46 vote. Before his confirmation Perez led the Justice Department’s civil-rights division and was previously Maryland’s labor secretary. President Obama said in a statement that Perez had dedicated his career to keeping the American dream alive for families across the country. “At the Department of Labor, Tom will help us continue to grow our economy, help businesses create jobs, make sure workers have the skills those jobs require, and ensure safe workplaces and economic opportunity for all,” Obama said.

Labor app to track companies' workplace conditions

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The Labor Department wants to make it easier for consumers to track which businesses are treating their workers fairly. Labor announced an app development contest Tuesday that it hopes will “help empower consumers to make informed choices about where to bring their business,” according to an agency news release. The smartphone app will include Labor’s publicly available enforcement data, data from consumer ratings and geopositioning websites and other data available through state health boards. “The app could also prove a useful tool for job seekers and for companies that are deciding which firms they may want to do business with,”…

Association of Government Accountants honors agency reporting

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Twenty agencies big and small were recently noted for top-notch financial and performance reporting by the Association of Government Accountants. The “Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting” (CEAR)  singles out “high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) and Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) that effectively illustrate and assess financial and program performance, accomplishments and challenges, cost and accountability,” the accountants association said in a news release. The association also spotlights the teams of dedicated federal professionals who (often unsung) put the reports together. “Given the fiscal status of the United States government and the public’s perceptions about government fiscal accountability and transparency,…

Watchdog group: Four IG offices now leaderless for years

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Hard to believe, but the State Department’s Office of Inspector General has been without a permanent head for more than four years. That fact, highlighted this week by the Project on Government Oversight, puts the office in an unlucky class of four IG agencies that have had vacancies at the top for at least 1,000 days. The others are the Interior and Labor departments and the Corporation for National and Community Service. While the Obama administration last fall nominated attorney Deborah Jeffrey for the inspector general’s job at the national service corporation, the Senate has yet to confirm her. But the…

Postal Service woes could undermine federal workers' comp fund

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What happens at the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t necessarily stay at the Postal Service. The latest example: A federal workers’ compensation fund could run out of money within three months if the cash-strapped mail carrier skips a $1.2 billion payment due in mid-October, according to the Labor Department. The department runs the fund under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Should the Postal Service miss the October “chargeback” for past claims, officials estimate that the program would have no money to pay any benefits during the last four months of fiscal 2012, running from next June through September, according to a…

Contract compliance agency seeks data

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The agency that ensures federal contractors are meeting federal employment rules is seeking more information from contractors. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) says the changes should make the process easier on contractors while also providing better data for their evaluations. But corporate law firms and consultant groups are alerting contractors via their blogs and websites that the additional data OFCCP wants will actually be a new burden for them. OFCCP, which checks contractors’ compliance with federal affirmative action and equal employment opportunity requirements, sends what’s called a Scheduling Letter to contractors selected for a compliance evaluation. That letter lists what data the…

Labor: FMLA covers same-sex partners' children

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The Labor Department yesterday said it interprets the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow an employee to take leave to care for any child for whom that employee is the primary caregiver, “regardless of the legal or biological relationship.” This new interpretation of how FMLA defines “son and daughter” means that any employee in the United States will be able to take unpaid time off to care for any child he is serving as parent to. That includes an employee’s nephew or grandchild, if the employee has stepped in to raise the child, or the son or daughter of an employee’s unmarried domestic…

New rule: contractors must give employees union info

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Government contractors and subcontractors are now required to post signs that “inform their employees of their rights as employees under federal labor laws.” Acquisition workers will have to write the provision into every contract they write from now on. The rule went into effect yesterday, about a month after the Labor Department published it in the Federal Register. It’s based on a Jan. 30, 2009 executive order from President Obama. The president wrote at the time that his order was “designed to promote economy and efficiency in government procurement.  When the Federal Government contracts for goods or services, it has…

Feds begin investigation into mine blast

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A 25-year mine safety veteran will lead the federal team investigating last week’s explosion at a West Virginia coal mine that killed 29 miners. Norman Page, manager of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s District 6 in Pikeville, Ky., will lead the accident investigation team, according to an agency announcement. The 14-member team, scheduled to arrive at the mine today, is made up of employees outside the district office that oversees the Upper Big Branch South Mine. On Saturday, search teams found the bodies of the final four miners who had yet to be recovered, dashing hopes that any of the…

Extreme Makeover: Federal Edition

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A trio of federal agency heads strapped on hard hats and lent their support to Sunday’s episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which featured two building projects just outside the nation’s capital. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined show host Ty Pennington for a tour of the two projects, in which the popular ABC program built a new home and community center that will be used to provide after-school programs to at-risk youths in Prince George’s County, Md. Chu praised the projects for incorporating green technologies such as solar panels, bamboo floors,…

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