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Federal Employees News Digest : May 27, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 MAY 27, 2013 • VOL. 62, NO. 43 SEA defends performance awards Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) this month introduced a bill (S.986) that would prohibit performance awards to members of the Senior Executive Service during sequestra- tion periods---including the current one. "The idea that some of the highest-paid federal government employees could be get- ting bonuses while others are being fur- loughed is outrageous," McCaskill said in a statement. McCaskill, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, also released a fact sheet detailing the extent of the performance awards in recent years. Most were awarded as cash awards linked to performance ratings. According to cost calculations com- piled by McCaskill's office, the federal government spent in excess of $340 mil- lion on performance awards---or "cash bonuses," as McCaskill's statement calls them---from 2008-2011 for SES employees. Approximately 86 percent of the SES awards distributed in 2011 were ratings-based, totaling $68 million in all. More than four out of five SES mem- bers, according to the fact sheet, receive the cash awards---6,519, or 81 percent of SES employees, got them in 2011. While the value of cash awards had been on the increase until 2010, an Office of Personnel Management directive in 2011 limited the money that could be spent on SES cash awards to no more than 5 percent of aggre- gate salary. SES members also are eligible for Presidential Rank Awards, the fact sheet noted. Winners of that award---chosen by agencies and approved by the presi- dent---receive either a "Distinguished Rank" award (35 percent of annual basic pay), or "Meritorious Rank" award (20 percent of annual basic pay). From 2008 to 2011, 1,070 awards worth a total of $39 million went to SES members, according to the fact sheet. In all, agencies gave more than 6,300 cash awards totaling more than $78 million to SES employees in 2011, the fact sheet says. SEA questions figures The Senior Executives Association---the organization representing feds in the SES--- disputes that any problem of excessive com- pensation for government executives exists, beginning with the bill proponents' appar- ent claim that the level of performance awards is excessive and has remained so. "OPM has not issued anything publically on SES performance awards since 2011," SEA General Counsel William L. Bransford told FEND. "I suspect that there has been a substantial reduction in recent years. I have a Freedom of Information Act request to get that information. I know that [the govern- ment] has taken some steps to substantially reduce these performance awards." "It seems to me that now [the bill's spon- sors] want to forbid performance awards during sequestration, but it doesn't make sense that past performance award history should be relevant to whether they should be paid during sequestration---starting with the idea that the number and costs of awards are 'too high.'" Good news, bad news The good news is that you are all over the news---TV, radio, newspapers, magazines. Blogs every- where. For example, on May 16 five of the six Page 1 stories chosen by the Washington Post were about federal workers. That's the good news. Way to go! The bad news is that you continue to be all over the news---TV, radio, newspapers, magazines. Blogs everywhere. For example, on May 16 five of the six Page 1 stories chosen by the Washington Post were about federal workers. That's the bad news. Sorry about that! The issue du jour is the conduct of federal agencies. Some days the main emphasis is on the Justice Department. Others it is on the IRS. For variety, the General Services Administration still pops up now and again. And the State Department. Definitely State. The lead story these days often concerns the Justice Department probe of the IRS. On the same page there may be a demand for an investigation of Justice for tailing a State Department official and a Washington reporter. Or for getting the phone records of Associated Press employees. Or for probing the news-gathering habits of a Fox TV reporter. There is the story about the secretary of defense ordering retraining of military recruiters and other individuals following allegations of sexual harassment by a Ft. Hood Army sergeant who was charge of an INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • VA attacks claims backlog 3 • Lawmakers question DOD furloughs 5 • In Brief 6 • Informed Investor 8 • Federal Benefits Q&A 9 continued on page 3
May 20, 2013
June 3, 2013