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Federal Employees News Digest : July 22, 2013
July 22, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 1 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com veterans compared to non-veterans and for employees with disabilities compared to those without them. Power of data "We strongly believe in the data," Helfrich told FEND, explaining that good analysis of the data can guide managers and employees forward by helping to identify where prob- lems lie and to develop solutions---particu- larly in educational programs on diversity and inclusion. "[The data] tells us more broadly that--- not just for the federal government---those organizations that talk about and empha- size diversity and inclusion are the ones that move the needle [in the right direction] on this topic," Helfrich said. Currently, there "is [no] government- wide, commonly used course or educa- tion that accomplishes this, not perfectly," Helfrich told FEND. And that isn't neces- sarily really the aim, he said, because the best solutions can be developed at agencies in partnership with other agencies and out- side organizations. "Some, like OPM, are engaging in con- versations with industry and other agencies to gather best practices and fashion that into educational tools---OPM can and will play a role in this," he said. "There are agen- cies that work with organizations like ours, to take stock in their specific situations, to create a customized scenario and simula- tion-based learning, that can be developed quickly and make a huge impact on those who go through it. We're already seeing that in some agencies and departments." Agencies, offices on cutting edge Helfrich didn't list many specific depart- ments where such efforts at deeper train- ing had been initiated, but he said that "several organizations in the Department of Defense" are among the most active in "taking a long hard look at the intersection of leadership, diversity and inclusion." Helfrich noted that DOD is ahead of many other agencies on this issue because it now has to quickly develop effective tools to manage diversity in the wake of the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. That decision is forcing the entire defense estab- lishment to study and manage inclusion of gays---and to more generally to enhance at all levels the inclusion and diversity part of existing leadership training, he said. Among other specific agencies making fast progress are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others "that deal in financial services---meaning all of those covered by Dodd-Frank, which are facing the issue head-on, too," he said. "There are stipulations in the law that they have to make diversity plans and hire a certain amount of diverse hires---and they are asking us a lot of great questions about how to be a model of inclusion," he told FEND. More than ‘sensitivity training’ "People's perceptions in the workplace are driven by the people closest to them--- their supervisors, managers, executives in the field," Helfrich told FEND. "Therefore, first, what progressive agencies can do is to break down the data to a lower level than agency-wide, to analyze it and come up with solutions." "The second thing they can do---and I argue it's the most important thing---is investing in really teaching our supervisors, managers and leaders how to be inclusive leaders, actually how to put diversity and inclusion front and center in the way you conduct yourself and your work." Helfrich said that although many leaders in government already get some amount of diversity training, it's often not the kind of deep instruction that reliably leads to profound change. "Have many of them been to 'sensitivity training'? Absolutely," he told FEND. "But what I'm talking about is a kind of diversity and inclusion that meets leadership devel- opment training, in a way that folks start to learn how to bring this to life in their day- to-day work. I think we see that the people who move things forward the most on this issue make this leap, and see ways to drive this kind of change into their organization at the lower levels, and things happen." Helfrich added that high-performers in the survey are as likely to consult him and other diversity-oriented organizations as the lower performers are. "The types of agencies talking to us about this are at every part of the spectrum of results in the survey," he said. "We have ones at the top that want to extend their lead, ones at the bottom trying to figure out [what went wrong] and ones in the middle not satisfied being there." "I think the data we do have allows us to dig into the issues at individual agencies, and we have the expertise to help organi- zations deal with these issues, now, in the moment," he added. "There are solutions and improvements that can happen right away, if agencies believe that this data is a key focus area, as we believe it should be." To see the report, go to: http://ourpub- licservice.org/OPS/publications/download. php?id=226. House committee reviews FECA reform proposal A House panel this month took a closer look at proposals that would cut the cost of providing benefits to disabled feder- al workers under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. The Labor Department, which adminis- ters FECA, has put forward plans to encour- age long-term disabled employees to move off FECA rolls at Social Security retirement age and into the regular retirement system. The department says some current FECA beneficiaries stay on FECA rolls past retire- ment age because FECA benefits are higher than those beneficiaries would receive by entering the Federal Employees Retirement System. Currently, total-disability beneficiaries with an eligible dependent are compen- sated by FECA at 75 percent of gross wages at the time of injury. Beneficiaries without a dependent are compensated at 66 2/3 percent. Those benefits are adjusted for inflation, are not taxed, and are not subject to age restrictions. According to the Government 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
July 15, 2013
July 29, 2013