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Federal Employees News Digest : Sep 9, 2013
September 9, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 8 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com pensate for the furloughs and three years of frozen pay, it is a welcome development," American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox said in a statement. "We are working with Congress and the admin- istration to make sure this raise will be extended to federal blue-collar workers as well." "To call this raise inadequate is an understatement but it is good news all the same," he added. Furlough pains continue NTEU, AFGE and other unions have noted that this year's sequester-driv- en spending cuts and furloughs have added pain on top of the multi-year pay freeze---both of which have hit federal employees hard. Under such conditions, getting at least a modest pay raise is even more necessary, according to Kelley. "This year and last year, the [furlough and pay freeze] have had a very harm- ful effect," Kelley told FEND. "And in agencies where employees have had to serve unpaid furlough days, it's had a devastating effect." In any case, "most people would agree that three years is far too long to go without a pay increase," she said. GSA announces per diem rates The General Services Administration published new per diem rates for federal travelers. The new fiscal 2014 rates will take effect Oct. 1. Most of the counties in the 48 conti- nental United States (CONUS)---about 2,600 in all---are covered by the fis- cal 2014 "standard area" per diem rate of $129, which includes $83 for lodg- ing, and $46 for meals and inciden- tal expenses. The lodging portion rose from $77 in fiscal 2013. There will be several changes to the list of 400 "non-standard areas" (NSAs), where different per diem rates are paid. Two locations will be added to the list of NSAs in fiscal 2014: Big Spring, Texas (Howard County); and Pearsall, Texas (Frio, La Salle and Medina Counties). In other changes, Hershey, Pa., now will be a separate NSA from Harrisburg, Pa.; Pasco, Wash. (Franklin County), and Richland, Wash. (Benton County), have been merged into a single NSA; and Hendry County, Fla., is now included with the Palm Beach County, Fla., NSA. Additionally, 29 locations that were NSAs in fiscal 2013 will move into the standard CONUS per diem rate cat- egory in fiscal 2014. Since fiscal 2005, NSA rates have been based on average daily rate data obtained under contract from the lodg- ing industry. This year, federal per diem rates are 5 percent below the average daily rate of the market. GSA noted that in fiscal 2014 it will eliminate a conference lodging allow- ance that had allowed federal travelers to spend 25 percent above per diem rates for conferences. The change is expected to save an estimated $10 million. GSA sets rates for the continental United States. The State Department establishes foreign rates, and the Defense Department sets non-foreign rates for areas such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam. To see more, go to: www.gsa. gov/portal/content/104877?utm_ source=OGP&utm_medium=print- radio&utm_term=perdiem&utm_ campaign=shortcuts. OPM answers Affordable Care Act questions The Office of Personnel Management is conducting an education effort to equip human resources officers to answer employee questions concern- ing the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Elaine Kaplan, OPM acting director, announced the effort in an Aug. 27 memo. While the ACA has sparked some level of anxiety generally among insured Americans, the ground rules for FEHB coverage remain largely unaffected for eligible federal employees, retirees and dependents. The main effects of the law on the FEHB are provisions that allowed OPM to expand FEHB eligibility and offer additional consumer protections. Among those, OPM extended family member coverage beginning in 2011 to offer coverage under a parent's FEHB plan to adult children up to age 26, just as non-FEHB plans were required to do. The same year, FEHB plans were required to begin to fully cover, with no enrollee co-pay, preventive health ser- vices such as childhood immunizations, cancer screenings and tobacco cessa- tion services. Under the act, OPM also required all FEHB plans to eliminate annual and lifetime limits on essential health benefits beginning with the 2013 contract year, OPM noted. While ACA-mandated health insur- ance marketplaces, which will give indi- viduals and small employers a central place to obtain coverage, will launch soon across the country, they will have no effect on FEHB enrollees, OPM noted. The OPM document that answers common questions concerning the ACA is at: www.chcoc.gov/files/the-afford- able-care-act-and-the-federal-employ- 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
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Sep 16, 2013