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Federal Employees News Digest : March 18, 2013
March 18, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 33 5 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement bashing the measure. Cox credited Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for trying to preserve the president's 0.5 percent pay raise slated to begin in April. Cox said Senate Republicans, however, “objected to even that small pay raise." "It's hard to imagine the federal gov- ernment becoming a less attractive employer than it is today after this deci- sion," Cox said. See the House bill at http://docs.house. gov/billsthisweek/20130304/BILLS- 113hr933ih.pdf, and the Senate bill at www.appropriations.senate.gov/news. cfm?method=news.view&id=729722e4- 2b84-4651-ae53-cad2b62e548e. ••• In Brief Sequester time is no time to hire, senator says One lawmaker says halting new hir- ing may help prevent furloughs of cur- rent employees. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), in a let- ter to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients, noted that on March 4---the first busi- ness day after sequestration---there were 606 new jobs posted to the federal gov- ernment career website, and there are thousands more still available that will be closing during sequestration. "While some of these positions may be essential to the mission of the agency, others plainly are not," Coburn wrote, adding that each agency needs to "deter- mine whether it is more critical to fill any of the five thousand federal vacancies currently advertised than it is to avoid furloughing current employees." He estimates that at a cost of an aver- age $76,000 annual salary for a single government employee, the average new hire equals the cost of a one week fur- lough for 52 current employees. Included in the letter is a short list of vacancies Coburn suggests are non- essential and should not be advertised or filled under current circumstances, including librarian and leadership posi- tions for museum history programs. He suggests that freezing recruiting for unfilled positions for "unnecessary ser- vices" would save valuable resources that could be used to help prevent furloughs of critical employees. The letter is at: www.coburn.sen- ate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files. Serve&File_id=bbaf9903-eb8c-4848- bdbc-8d276240cf0d/. TSP warns against phone app A warning on the Thrift Savings Plan website says TSP account holders should stay away from an unsanctioned smart phone application. According to a posting on the TSP site, the Apple App Store lists a free iPhone application called TSP Funds that asks TSP participants for their account login information. TSP that the application is not being offered through TSP, and that TSP does not recommend using the app to access accounts. The app could represent a security risk, TSP said. The warning is posted at: https:// www.tsp.gov/whatsnew/plan/planNews. shtml#iPhoneApp. TSa union bashes knife rule change The union that represents airport screeners lashed out against a rule change that would allow passengers to carry small knives onto planes. The change to the Transportation Security Administration's official "prohibited items list" is slated to become effective April 25. "Any knife, regardless of blade size, can be used as a weapon," AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a state- ment. "TSA has created a situation where TSOs will be required to discern the length and width of a knife blade in a very short period of time. Disagreements over the TSOs' determination as to whether the knife will be allowed through check- points may result in a confrontation." Cox said TSOs are already are threat- ened often enough by irate passengers, and that the new policy could increase those incidents. Cox also said that the rule was changed without consulting the TSA employees who work at check- points, and that the union's TSA council was not included in the committee that reviewed the prohibited items list. AFGE TSA Council 100, which repre- sents the screeners, is pointing people to an online petition asking for a reversal of the decision. The petition was started by flight attendants (www.noknivesonplanes. com) on the White House's "We the People" petition website. According to the union, the Flight Attendants Union Coalition, the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association also oppose the change. February retirement claims spike The Office of Personnel Management this month said that it received more than three times the number of new applica- tions for retirement than it had predicted for February. According to its monthly update on its progress on cutting the retire- ment claims backlog, OPM said that it received 20,374 new claims in February from employees retiring under the Civil Service Retirement System and Federal Employees Retirement System. OPM had predicted it would receive 5,600 new claims in February, a month when applications typically drop off after what is generally a big rise in January. At the same time, OPM processed more claims in February than it had pro- jected---15,333 actual claims processed versus the 11,500 it had predicted. While OPM has been making prog- ress in whittling down the backlog of claims, the big jump in February fil- ings pushed the end-of-month inven- tory of claims still to be processed to continued from page 4 continued on page 6
March 11, 2013
March 25, 2013