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Federal Employees News Digest : Feb. 11, 2013
February 11, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 28 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com become necessary, because by 2009 "seri- ous human capital, performance manage- ment, and employee morale issues had developed." Or, as then-incoming Chairman Pope said in a 2009 a radio interview: "I inher- ited the agency, I would say, at the lowest point in its 30-year history." "We were the 34th small agency in the employee satisfaction ranking---out of 34. My tagline was 'We have nowhere to go but up,'" she added. With FLRA a low priority under the Bush administration, the agency's prob- lems mushroomed. Perhaps worst among those problems was the agency's failure to hire and manage its funds efficiently---and Congress responded by trimming the agen- cy's budget. At that point, the then-roughly 130-person agency suffered an even deeper drop in morale as workload and funding became even less well-matched. After her appointment, Pope and the rest of the new leadership worked to turn around what she noted as "the lack of enthusiasm" among employees and frus- tration by agencies with FLRA's delays in handing down decisions. Crucial cures, according to Pope and observers, have included revamping office technology, redesigning the agency's web- site, and reducing case backlog---and invit- ing employees to participate in addressing these and other key problems. Last but not least, the agency also was able to drum up the necessary resources to effect the needed improvements. So far, the reforms have worked. Just two years into reform, the 2011 Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey found FLRA had rock- eted up from 34th to 7th in employee satisfaction among small agencies---with employee satisfaction with agency leader- ship rising from 30 percent to over 71 percent. Since that time, the latest OPM survey in 2012 shows FLRA has main- tained those gains, coming in 8th. "Through the effective management of resources and the hard work and dedica- tion of agency leadership and employees, the FLRA has, since 2009, transformed itself from an agency marked by numerous deficiencies to one marked by numerous successes," Spooner told FEND. Spooner said she is committed to "carry- ing out the vision of the FLRA's leadership, emphasizing mission accomplishment and performance improvement through transparency, employee engagement, and collaboration so as to inspire public con- fidence in our mission performance and management." awaiting Senate action Until Spooner's appointment and Pope's renewal as chairman are approved by the Senate, the agency is operat- ing with only one confirmed member, DuBester, who now also is serving as temporary chairman But in a statement issued last month, the FLRA insisted that "without excep- tion, work continues uninterrupted" at the Office of the General Counsel, Office of Administrative Law Judges and the Federal Service Impasses Panel "because these components are not affected by the lack of a quorum in the Authority component." With all other components functioning, only a relatively small number of cases handed up to the three-member decisional authority are being held up because of the missing members. Obama urges Congress to 'finish the job' Speaking from the White House brief- ing room Feb. 5, President Obama said he believes that Congress "can finish the job" and avoid impending sequester cuts, but called on lawmakers to pass a smaller spending package in the meantime. During the briefing, Obama urged law- makers to get "serious" about addressing the deficit, contending that savings from recent tax reforms should be used to pay it down. "I think this balanced mixed of spending cuts and tax reform is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction," Obama said. However, the president acknowledged that a full budget will not likely come in time to avoid the March 1 mandatory across-the-board spending cuts triggered by sequestration, and he urged Congress at minimum to pass a smaller spending package and tax reform plan to again delay the effects of sequestration. Meanwhile, he stated that the deals he has already put forward to reduce spend- ing, such as reforms to entitlement pro- grams, are "still on the table." "Our economy is headed in the right direction and it will stay that way as long as there are no more self-inflicted wounds," he said. alternative plan dies in House On the same day the president urged Congress to take action to head off seques- tration, the House Rules Committee denied a vote on a Democratic amendment to the Require a Plan Act (H.R. 444) that would have replaced the looming sequester with what the amendment's supporters called a "more balanced" alternative plan. "Once again, House Republicans have made clear they are more interested in budget gimmicks than budget solution," said the amendment's sponsor, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who serves as ranking member of the House Budget Committee. Criticizing the sequester's "meat-ax style spending cuts," Van Hollen said the Democratic plan "includes the Buffett Rule to reduce the deficit without hitting working families, and cuts unnecessary subsidies for agriculture and Big Oil." The head of the National Treasury Employees Union had registered support for the Van Hollen amendment, and urged the Rules Committee to allow a vote on it. "With the devastating across-the-board cuts required by the sequestration pro- visions of the Budget Control Act less than a month away, it is critically impor- 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
Feb. 4, 2013
Feb. 18, 2013