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Federal Employees News Digest : Aug 12, 2013
Did judges over a 20-year period sim- ply favor power? Devine: There were several roads to this problem. First, President Reagan appoint- ed all of the first judges on the new court. Second, all the judges who had any experi- ence in personnel law came from mili- tary court of appeals---that is, President Reagan packed the court with judges from the military court of appeals. For these folks, whistleblowing is synonymous with treason, in many cases. Finally, it's just a strange court as well. It has a monopoly on appellant review on patent and copyright decisions, international trade rulings---and federal civil service law. Strange bedfellows. Next week: Devine discusses the future of the WPEA, the Office of Special Counsel, and Presidential Policy Directive 19, which covers national security whistleblowers. DOD eliminates five furlough days The Defense Department announced that it will reduce the total number of unpaid furlough days for DOD civilian employees from 11 days to six. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who made the announcement Aug. 6, credited the reduction to “DOD’s efforts to identify savings and help from Congress." Nonetheless, Hagel also warned that if Congress does not address the financial pressures brought on by sequestration, more trouble lies ahead. “As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges,” Hagel said in a statement. "If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, DOD will be forced to cut an additional $52 bil- lion in FY 2014, starting on Oct. 1. This represents 40 percent more than this year’s sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion." "Facing this uncertainty," he said, "I can- not be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs." Hagel thanked the department's civilian employees "for their patience and dedication during these extraordinarily tough times." In a statement issued after the announce- ment, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said that Hagel's announcement suggests that the secretary "has finally realized that furloughs are costly in terms of dollars, readiness, and morale." But the labor leader pressed for more. "The terrible economic harm and injus- tice that has already been done to the 650,000 DOD civilians who should have never been furloughed has yet to be addressed," he said in the statement. "I am calling on Secretary Hagel to take immediate action to reim- burse the furloughed employees for the six days of income they have lost." Cox maintained that DOD employees "were exploited by Pentagon officials to send a political message to Congress about sequestration." “Now that these same officials have admitted that the furlough was unneces- sary, the only fair thing to do is to make full financial restitution to the employees who were harmed," Cox said. To see more, go to: www.defense.gov/ releases/release.aspx?releaseid=16191 and http://afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=PressReleases &PressReleaseID=1522. 'Stop Abuse' bill clears House The House passed the Stop Government Abuse Act, legislation that House leaders say "gives families and small business own- ers some of the tools they need to guard against needless government harassment," but which opponents say cultivates a dis- trust of federal employees. Among other things, the bill (H.R. 2879) would limit bonuses for federal employ- ees during sequestration, provide for new investigative leave requirements for mem- bers of the Senior Executive Service, and establish procedures to permit individuals to record in-person or telephonic interac- tions with executive branch employees. The bill, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) on July 31, combines three bills that failed this week to gar- ner the two-thirds majority support that would have been necessary to pass them under suspension of House rules. The new bill, which incorporates the Common Sense Compensation Act (H.R. 1541), the Government Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 2579) and the Citizen Empowerment Act (H.R. 2711) passed the House Aug. 1 on a vote of 239-176. Federal Managers Association National President Patricia Niehaus on Aug. 2 released a statement on the bill FMA said combines "toxic pieces of legislation." "FMA believes transparency and accountability are necessary,” Niehaus stat- ed. "However, H.R. 2879 creates an envi- ronment of distrust and vilifies hard-work- ing men and women. By capping award bonuses at 5 percent, Congress eliminates incentives and creates morale problems in the already suffering public sector. "Additionally, H.R. 2879 allows for the recording of either in-person or telephone interactions with federal employees with the public, without the consent of the employee. The bill makes no exemptions, including law enforcement-related inves- tigations," she said. "All this provision does is create suspicion of hard-working patri- ots, who despite a three-year pay freeze and seemingly constant vitriol, serve their country and community on a daily basis." Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was equally critical in arguing against the bill before its passage. “Do we need oversight?” he asked. “Of course. Do we need honesty in perfor- mance of public duties? Absolutely. But we also need respect and consideration shown for those who work for America. The best civil service in the world. The most com- petent, best educated civil service in the world -- and we treat them as second-rate citizens. We ought not to do that." Hoyer offered a broader criticism, as well. "This Congress has been the worst Congress for federal employees in which I served," Hoyer said. In a statement on the House floor, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said he was “surprised that Democratic leaders have urged opposition to several of these August 12, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 4 4 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com continued from page 3 continued on page 5
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