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Federal Employees News Digest : June 10, 2013
June 10, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 45 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com get rid of it. But---no---they say they 'can't' get rid of it. They give an exception or two, but they are adamant it has to be there always. But the federal government can bor- row from it." Accelerating cutbacks, closures USPS also issued notices in February and March that it was "advancing implemen- tation" of parts of a plan---already in the works---to close numerous post offices and sorting facilities. The earliest closures are set to begin at more than 50 sites around the country. "The reason for this change," the official February notice began, "is that the Postal Service has identified the opportunity to accelerate the anticipated savings while still maintaining the [legally required] ser- vice standard." But APWU's Davidow questions that motive. "Unfortunately, the Postal Service is taking advantage of the dysfunction in Washington to proceed to close mail pro- cessing plants to hurt service---and to hurt the American people," Davidow told FEND. "They absolutely are." "A major outrage here, for us, is that the Postal Service is closing plants this year that it publicly promised it would not close until at least 2014," Davidow continued. "The commitments here were made not just to postal workers, but to the communities those processing plants serve, and to mem- bers of Congress and other elected officials. This is a terrible breach of faith. This is a prime example of them taking advantage of inaction by Congress to push a very danger- ous program." "Our hope was that postal reform would make this unnecessary," Davidow conclud- ed. "This is not just a matter of their moving up the schedule a little bit. These are clo- sures that---with time and reforms---likely wouldn't have had to happen." "We've been pushing Congress relent- lessly to pass postal reform legislation," Davidow said. "The crisis in the Postal Service is emblematic of the crisis facing our country, at so many levels. Congress just seems incapable of solving the nation's pressing problems. Meanwhile our progress is stalling as a nation." Think tanks urge cost-cutting at DOD Representatives from a diverse collection of think tanks told congressional leaders and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week that the cost of the Defense Department's current excess capacity is threatening DOD's ability to fulfill its mission. In an open letter addressed to the leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and Appropriations defense subcommittees, signers from a range of policy groups said they shared "a striking bipartisan consensus" that DOD and con- gressional leaders need to address "growing imbalances within the defense budget that threaten the health and long-term viability of America's volunteer military." The letter appeared in The Hill, a Washington politi- cal publication. The 25 signers of the letter represent 10 policy organizations from across the political spectrum, ranging from the lib- eral Center for American Progress to the conservative American Enterprise Institute to the bipartisan Center for Strategic and International Studies to the libertarian Cato Institute. "It is our shared belief that the Department of Defense urgently needs to close excess bases and facilities, reexamine the size and structure of the DOD civilian workforce, and reform military compensa- tion," the letter stated. "While we do not all agree on the best approach to reform in each case, we agree that if these issues are not addressed, they will gradually consume the defense budget from within." In its call for trimming physical infra- structure, the paper states that "by DOD's own estimates, it currently pays to maintain some 20 percent excess capacity in its infra- structure---resources that could be better used to sustain our military muscle." The group also took aim at the growth of DOD's civilian workforce. "The size and structure of the civil- ian workforce is another area in need of careful examination and restructuring that Pentagon leadership has been reluctant to address," the letter states. "From 2001 to 2012, the active duty military grew by just 3.4 percent. Yet over the same timeframe the number of civilian defense employees grew by 17 percent, an increase five times greater than the armed forces." "It is past time for the Pentagon to right- size this workforce and make permanent reductions in a thoughtful and targeted manner," the letter said. The signers also called for "a comprehen- sive evaluation and modernization of the military compensation system," pointing in particular to "outdated forms of payment for the 80 percent of service members who serve less than a full 20-year career." "From FY 2001 to FY 2012, the compen- sation cost per active duty service member grew 56 percent, adjusting for inflation, or a rate of 4.1 percent annually," the letter said. The signers faulted Congress for failing to approve DOD proposals to deal with that growth, and noted that without efforts to address rising military compensation costs, those costs will "continue to grow as the defense budget shrinks, crowding out funds needed for training, readiness and for the replacement of worn out equipment." "None of these reforms will be easy, painless, or popular," the groups concluded. "But they are absolutely essential to main- taining a strong national defense over the long term." Union: Letter lacks balance The American Federation of Government Employees, however, said the recommen- dations outlined in the letter "fail to meet the laugh test because they focus on mas- sive, indiscriminate and destructive across- the-board cuts in civilian and military per- sonnel, while in most cases leaving the more expensive and less efficient contractor shadow workforce intact..." AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. called the groups' recommendations "academi- cally lazy." He said a "blatant failure to show 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
June 3, 2013
June 17, 2013