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Federal Employees News Digest : May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 43 7 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com "The plan that the administration has submitted to Congress is very good news for CBP," CBP Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski said in a May 17 message to employees. "It means that we can continue our work of securing the nation without the disruption of employee furloughs." But Winkowski noted that even if Congress approves the plan, sequestration would continue to hinder the agency in other ways. "For example, for the remainder of this fiscal year, CBP will continue the hiring freeze for non-frontline personnel, main- tain limited reductions in overtime, and forgo 'On the Spot' and 'Special Act' mon- etary awards in fiscal year 2013," he said. "While these reductions are not without significance and will continue to impact our mission, they are preferable to the personal hardships and operational impact of incurring furloughs at this point in the fiscalyear." In a May 20 statement, National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley called the request a "posi- tive development for CBP," and urged Congress to give its quick approval to the reprogramming plan. Kelley also called for an end to the sequester. "Significant financial challenges remain for the agency as long as sequestration is in place," Kelley said. "No federal employee should be forced to take furlough days. NTEU urges Congress to stop the seques- ter and prevent furloughs for all federal employees." Furloughed feds get credit union help The National Association of Federal Credit Unions said that furloughed feds suffering the financial effects of sequestra- tion may be able to get help from their credit unions. NAFCU has published a "Credit Union Furlough Assistance" page on its website that contains a links to credit unions that are offering special programs for federal employees whose finances are taking a hit because of furloughs. The 1.2 million-member Pentagon FCU, for example, has an online financial hard- ship center where members can look into mortgage rate modifications and refinanc- ing, as well as borrower relief and assistance on outstanding consumer loans that were obtained through the FCU. And the Navy FCU, which has more than 4 million members, has a seques- tration hotline, and offers members experiencing financial hardship help in the form of loan assistance, penalty- free early withdrawals on certificates of deposit, and a lower rate on its checking overdraft line of credit. The NAFCU said that even if a credit union is not on the list, "the industry has a history of standing by its members," so feds in need still should contact a credit union representative to see if some assis- tance is available. The list of credit unions is at: www.nafcu. org/furloughassistance/. IRS fills in furlough details The Internal Revenue Service this month released specifics on furloughs at the agency. Unlike agencies that are handling the mandatory unpaid leave days by short- staffing facilities, the IRS plans a complete shutdown of operations on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30, and perhaps one or two additional days to be announced later. "Due to the current budget situation, including the sequester, all IRS operations will be closed on those days," the IRS said in a May 15 statement. "This means that all IRS offices, including all toll-free hot- lines, the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the agency's nearly 400 taxpayer assistance cen- ters nationwide, will be closed on those days. IRS employees will be furloughed without pay. No tax returns will be processed and no compliance-related activities will take place." The agency noted that because none of the furlough days are federal holidays, vari- ous tax-filing and tax-paying deadlines will be unaffected. The IRS also said it "will be unable to accept or acknowledge receipt of electronically-filed returns on any day the agency is shut down." The agency offered more details on its website related to the furloughs' effects on deadlines for providing other documents, such as summonses, records and other mate- rials---and information on which web-based tools and phone-based automated services will function on furlough days, and which will not. To see more, go to: www.irs.gov/uac/ Newsroom/IRS-To-Be-Closed-May-24,-Four- Other-Days-Due-to-Budget-and-Sequester;- Filing-and-Payment-Deadlines-Unchanged. Treasury to halt retirement fund investments Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this month informed congressional leaders that the Treasury Department will begin to imple- ment "the standard set of extraordinary measures" to protect the nation's credit standing now that Congress's suspension of the debt limit has expired. To prevent a government default, Congress at the end of January temporar- ily suspended the debt limit until May 18. With the expiration of that measure---and the lack of additional congressional action to increase the debt limit---Lew on May 17 sent a letter to House and Senate lead- ers outlining the implementation of a now familiar set of measures the department has used in the past, and will now use again, to preserve credit in the wake of legislative impasse. Among its available measures, Lew noted, the Treasury Department will use its statu- tory authority to suspend new investment in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, which provides defined benefits to retired and disabled employees in the Civil Service Retirement System. The department also has authority to redeem certain existing investments in the CSRDF. Additionally, the department has authority to suspend rein- vestment in the government-issued secu- rities held in the Government Securities Investment Fund, or G Fund, of the Federal Employees Retirement System. Congress in 1987 gave the Treasury Department statutory authority to lever- age both programs when outstanding debt reaches the debt limit. Since the tactics continued from page 6 continued on page 9
May 20, 2013
June 3, 2013