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Federal Employees News Digest : Jan. 21, 2013
January 21, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 25 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com the most elementary principles of fairness and equity?" Threlkeld asked. "Service- contractor spending has grown twice as fast as the civilian personnel spending---so why is the DOD focused on cutting civilian personnel? And that's the case in sequestra- tion [too]. "We think the civilian workforce is slated to make its own sacrifices, a lot of them ones that the department is not prepared to ask contractors to make," he predicted. "The work that those civilian employees have to do still will have to get done, even if they're gone. Who will do it?---contractors or mili- tary personnel? We're concerned. What will happen to the workload? "If nothing changes, why won't more work-shifting---and even direct conver- sions---move work to contractors illegally or to military service members inappropri- ately?" Threlkeld said. "And all this would be contrary to policy and contrary to federal law---so why doesn't the department speak out on this, and make sure it doesn't occur? And tell us what steps it is taking to reverse this trend?" The leading federal employer is the DoD, Threlkeld reminded. The problem is this: the policy itself is "transparent, and very weak." "If all DOD can do is talk about reviewing contracts and a danger of inappropriately directly converting functions to contractors, nothing good is going to happen. "The guidance from December 2011 con- tained a line in which the Pentagon warned managers that when 'revisiting both our civilian and military force structures'---all code, really, for downsizing---'we must be particularly vigilant to prevent the inappro- priate conversion' of civilian jobs to contrac- tors," Threlkeld said. "Well, If they felt they had to be 'particularly vigilant' to prevent direct conversions, then imagine how they must feel now after the 5 percent arbitrary cuts called for in the [National Defense Authorization Act] and in the face of sequestration---what are they feeling now?" Threlkeld was referring here to the 36,000 job cuts---or 5 percent of the DOD civilian workforce---called for under the House- Senate NDAA compromise bill, which cleared the House last December. Thousands more jobs threatened "What we have here [in the new guid- ance] is the failure to take into account that service contractors must also make a sacrifice," Threlkeld said. "The failure to ask [contractors] to bear more than a nominal amount is baffling---there are huge amounts of money allocated in the contractor bud- gets. The failure means civilian employees will be hit harder as a result. It doesn't make sense in terms of managing the workforce or in terms of fairness." Threlkeld said he was unable to estimate the total number of DOD employees whose jobs could be threatened by the combination of current budget constraints, impending sequestration, and the very weak guidance in place to stop inappropriate furloughs and conversions. He did say that the number is "obviously in the thousands." "We don't know how this will play out," Threlkeld told FEND. "To the DOD's credit, many people over there are trying to mini- mize the impact on the workforce. Maybe it will be sorted out by [the time of the seques- tration deadline] in March. But maybe not." March deadline is the key Threlkeld told FEND he believes that an early resolution to the crisis is unlikely, primarily because the two party leaderships hold such deeply different views on the key issues that have led to the continuing budget standoff and sequestration threat. "The March deadline will produce a lot of last-minute negotiating," he told FEND. "I'll just say I hope they can work out a deal that ensures sequestration doesn't come to hit DOD, or other agencies." OIG sees benefit in vast USPS infrastructure While many proponents of significantly downsizing the U.S. Postal Service have characterized its extensive infrastructure as a detriment, one internal postal organiza- tion sees it as an asset to be harnessed. A new paper from the USPS Office of Inspector General makes a case for leverag- ing the U.S. Postal Service's digital infra- structure---as well as its physical network--- to increase the efficiency of the federal government and make government services more accessible to citizens. According to the paper, many agencies have "expensive and many parallel field office network structures" across the coun- try, but still fail to provide many citizens with easy access. The paper details a range of e-government services that agencies need--- and which USPS could provide---to better serve the public. The OIG said it has identified five basic categories of needed services. Communications management. For these services, the OIG said USPS could combine existing applications such as its Electronic Postmark with secure e-messaging and dig- ital-physical hybrid services to support gov- ernment communications and transactions. Online and in-person identification. USPS could use its extensive retail network to facilitate the transition of government trans- actions online by offering digital and in- person identification services. Front-office services for direct citizen con- tact. The OIG said that agencies that require front-office personal contact with citizens could use the Postal Service's national retail network for applications, status changes and in-person witness certifications. Electronic payments. The USPS retail net- work could serve as an enrollment and cash redemption and reload channel for agen- cies that issue prepaid cards. The OIG said USPS also could offer postal money orders and its own prepaid cards---on behalf of other agencies---which citizens could use for secure refunds, loan and grant proceeds, and benefit or entitlement payments. Broadband access. In underserved com- munities, USPS could expand broadband availability by providing access points in post offices, as well as aerial access to expand broadband coverage. "In each category, the Postal Service could assist agencies in increasing efficiency and improving the quality and convenience of services," the report stated. "The Postal Service could establish a one-stop, shared, continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
Jan. 14, 2013
Jan. 28, 2013