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Federal Employees News Digest : May 20, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 MAY 20, 2013 • VOL. 62, NO. 42 Agency preparations moderated some sequester effects This week, FEND's Nathan Abse talks with Stephen Fuller, Ph.D., an economist and public policy expert, about the prospects for federal employees in the medium- and long-term in light of continued retrenchment in the federal budget---including the across- the-board cuts demanded by the sequester and furloughs that have hit some agencies. Fuller is a well-respected economic forecaster and the director of the Center for Regional Analysis at the George Mason University School of Public Policy. The center studies economic and demographic change in the nation's capital area. Q&A with Stephen Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis Prof. Fuller, how much has the down- turn in federal hiring---along with job cuts from sequester and furloughs, more recently---affected the federal workforce? Fuller: There are a couple of different ways to look at this. Our federal workforce peaked in 2010. Through the end of 2012, we had lost about 8,700 off that peak---all before the sequester. Those reductions represent about 2.25 percent off the federal workforce, and that was largely due to agencies simply leaving vacancies open after retirements and regular turnover. Why did agencies do that---slow their hiring even before the sequester? Fuller: Well---and I'm surmising in part---they were managing their workforce in a way to make sure they accumulated some surplus payroll, so that when and if the sequester happened, they would have cash on hand to give some back, if required to. That's why a number of federal agencies that earlier this year were talking about furloughs have since said they don't need them. Specifically, over the course of the fiscal year, they accumulated payroll money over their targets, the continuing resolu- tion level. Now we're down about 3,000 employees from a year ago---if you look at the figures for each month, that's 3,000 less than a year ago. And we're on a trajectory of slow erosion of the federal workforce. That's occurring as an indirect effect of both the hiring freeze and a continuing need at agen- cies to generate funds to meet the require- ments of sequestration. Any other factors in play here, in helping agencies meet their spending cut targets? Fuller: Yes, the third factor that's help- ing agencies to meet their requirements for sequestration is an increase in retirements. Nationally, based on current rates, we're looking at as much as 10 percent of the federal workforce that may retire this year. That's taking some higher-wage employees out of the federal workforce, and when they are replaced, usually that's with lower-cost, Fresh scandals It's probably safe to assume that most adult Americans---whether honest hard-working tax- payers or serious tax avoiders---know what the initials IRS stand for. It is also likely that they have some idea what the giant agency does, even if they don't understand its many responsibilities and the different hats revenuers wear. The IRS depends on voluntary compli- ance, whereby the vast majority of people who owe taxes pay them. That allows the IRS to go after tax deadbeats, ranging from low-paid individuals to Hollywood millionaires to Wall Street tycoons. It also operates an excellent service helping (honest) taxpayers settle problems with the IRS. One of the many IRS functions most people don't know much (if any- thing) about is deciding which groups get tax-exempt status. And as the public now is learning through news reports, that can be a very big deal indeed! It's also probably safe to say that most adult Americans know that there is a State Department and have a rough idea what it does. And even know that its people do more than attend cocktail par- ties---like carry out some tricky, some- times dangerous missions and, from time INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • DOD announces furloughs 5 • OPM to examine pay gap 6 • In Brief 7 • Informed Investor 8 • Federal Benefits Q&A 9 continued on page 3
May 13, 2013
May 27, 2013