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Federal Employees News Digest : Jan. 28, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 January 28, 2013 • Vol. 62, no. 26 Sequester already having effect, lawmaker says Pressure has continued to mount in recent months for federal employees and their union representatives to prepare for deep cuts in agency budgets that could come as a result of an ongoing standoff between the Republican-led House and the Democratic White House. Several federal employee unions over the last few weeks have argued that cuts discussed in legislation so far, as well as the threatened sequestration, would unfairly affect employees more than con- tractors. Last week, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) who represents a northern Virginia district that is home to a large number of federal employees and many federal contractors, ramped up his own warnings that Congress must soon reach a final agreement because some damage already is being done---both to the fed- eral workforce and to contractors. "The clock is ticking," Connolly told FEND last week. "It's been three weeks since Congress voted to delay the effects of sequestration for two months, yet we're no closer to averting the painful across- the-board cuts than we were then." Public, private sectors suffer Connolly reminded that the sequestra- tion threat---a blunt instrument written into a worst-case scenario law that would injure constituents of all political persua- sions---incorporated such harsh terms as a means to facilitate a later compromise. But, instead, at this late date the sequestration threat is having a different, unintended effect. "Though it was never meant to actu- ally take effect, sequestration already is having a chilling effect across the fed- eral government," Connolly told FEND. "We've already seen an uptick in federal retirements and turnover. Positions are going unfilled and agencies are either slowing the rate of spending on contracts or holding them in abeyance. "Many employers in my district already have pivoted their business model just in response to the threat of sequestra- tion," Connolly continued. "And in its most recent guidance to agencies, OMB confirmed what has been suspected all along---that furloughs, an extended hir- ing freeze, layoffs for temporary workers and offering early retirements or buyouts are all on the table alongside reduced grant and contract opportunities." Connolly: Revenue side neglected "Of course, this is only looking at half of the equation," Connolly told FEND. "The whole point of sequestration was to prod Congress into taking bold, biparti- san action on a balanced deficit reduc- tion package that includes both spending cuts and revenue. "Our long-term challenges cannot be solved on the spending side alone, yet some of my colleagues seem intent to try Image problem The problem---for the image of the average, non- crook federal civil servant---is that most ordinary taxpayers can't tell one govern- ment worker from another. In their minds, a senator and a sanitation worker are the same. (Maybe that was a bad example, and an apology is owed the sanitation person). There is a big difference between being dog catcher in a small town---or the head of the animal control bureau--- and being part of the Mars probe team at NASA. And agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operate at a different level from your county sheriff or small-town cop. When most people think of Washington, D.C., they focus on the federal side of the city---the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. But we also have a mayor here (who is under investigation), and we have a former mayor on the city council (who has done jail time). In the sub- urbs, we have a number of officials--- including a former county executive and his spouse---who are doing time. The District of Columbia, as you may know, is 69 square miles of diamond- INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • Joint Chiefs issue warning 3 • In Brief 3 • Legal Matters 4 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3
Jan. 21, 2013
Feb. 4, 2013