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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct 14, 2013
October 13, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 13 8 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com tapped into a new law to recall most of its furloughed civilian employees. The move was based on an interpreta- tion of the Pay Our Military Act, which DOD and Justice Department attor- neys concluded allowed the department to eliminate furloughs for "employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members." According to DOJ's interpretation, however, the law does not allow DOD to issue a blanket recall of all civilians. "I expect us to be able to significantly reduce---but not eliminate---civilian furloughs under this process," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in an Oct. 5 statement announcing the move. "We have tried to exempt as many DOD civilian personnel as possible from fur- loughs. We will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible." Employees called back to duty include civilians who provide ongoing support to military members, including health care activities and providers, sexual assault prevention and response pro- viders, behavior health and suicide pre- vention, transition assistance programs for military members in active service, commissary and payroll operations and family support programs and activities. DOD also called back civilians whose work, if interrupted by the lapse for a substantial period, would cause future problems for military members. These include those who work on acquisi- tion program oversight, contract logis- tics, financial management, intelligence functions and supply chain manage- ment. DOD Controller and Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale said the depart- ment is "glad we're getting most of our employees back, [but] we haven't solved all the problems associated with the lapse of appropriations by any means." To see more, go to: www.defense.gov/ releases/release.aspx?releaseid=16293. NATCA says furloughs could pose air safety risk The National Air Traffic Controllers Association this month sent a letter to congressional leaders warning that while controllers still remain on duty, the furloughs of other aviation person- nel could threaten air safety. "No one should be under the illu- sion that it is business as usual for air traffic control under a shutdown," stated the letter to lawmakers from NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. "Even though air traffic controllers and other aviation safety professionals have been maintaining the safety of the system, this furlough is rapidly eliminating the layers of redundancy and safety that we rely on." In the letter, the group maintained that air traffic controllers are part of "a complex team" that also includes sup- port staff such as air traffic support staff specialists, aviation technical systems specialists, and infrastructure, equip- ment and construction engineers---all of whom have been furloughed. "These men and women must work together with our certified professional controllers for the [National Airspace System] to function at top safety and efficiency," the letter said. "We wouldn't ask a surgeon to perform an operation without the assistance of a support team, and we shouldn't be asking air traffic controllers to continue working traffic error-free without support staff. Today we are asking our controllers to maintain the safety and efficiency of the system without the necessary con- tribution of 3,000 safety professionals." NATCA noted that sequestra- tion already has hobbled the sys- tem by forcing the Federal Aviation Administration into a hiring freeze, rendering it unable to replace control- lers who have retired---and that the shutdown has brought training to a halt for new hires made before the sequester took effect. Both those issues may lead to an eventual staffing shortage, the letter said. To see more, go to: www.natca. org/news.aspx?zone=Top%20 News&nID=6535#n6535. ••• In Brief OPM answers shutdown questions Federal employees looking for answers to many questions on how the shutdown will affect their pay and benefits can find them in a new online guidance. While many agencies have taken steps to anticipate and address those questions, the Office of Personnel Management has posted a new guide on its website to bolster those efforts. The new Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs, issued Sept. 30, provides 30 pages of answers in a Q&A format. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board also has posted a document on its website to answer a handful of questions about a shutdown's effect on the Thrift Savings Plan. That document dates to March 2011, when the federal government faced a similar shutdown threat. See the documents at: www.opm. gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/fur- lough-guidance/guidance-for-shutdown- furloughs.pdf and https://www.tsp.gov/ PDF/formspubs/oc11-5.pdf. VA offers vets shutdown info The Department of Veterans Affairs has posted help on its website to inform beneficiaries on how its services and programs may be affected by the gov- ernment shutdown. The materials include a two-page continued from page 5 continued on page 9
Oct 7, 2013
Oct 21, 2013