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Federal Employees News Digest : Oct 28, 2013
continued from page 4 October 28, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 15 5 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com news/newsarticle.aspx?id=120968. USPS work hours, mail volume still out of balance, IG finds A study that examined the U.S. Postal Service's progress in improving overall plant efficiency in fiscal 2012 found that the organization had not yet fully adjust- ed work hours in response to declining mail volume, and continued to expend millions of extra work hours. The latest assessment, conducted by the USPS Office of Inspector General, said that as a result of its failure to adjust those hours to mail volume, the Postal Service in fiscal 2012 used more than 14 million work hours in excess of what was necessary to process that mail volume. Results of the study also showed that USPS had not achieved all the possible efficiencies in its mail processing opera- tions, the IG said. The report is a follow-up to a similar IG report released in 2012 that studied performance for fiscal 2011, with the same goal---to review the "Postal Service's efforts to 'raise the bar' on productivity levels for those plants that were the least productive in the network nationwide." In that earlier report, the IG recommended that the Postal Service reduce more than 14 million work hours by fiscal 2014. While USPS still remained short of that goal in fiscal 2012, the new report nonetheless noted that USPS in fact had made "substantial progress" in reducing work hours in the network in 2012. "Plants that were the least produc- tive reduced more than 3.4 million work hours, achieving 23.9 percent of the recommended work hour savings," the report stated. "The Postal Service made these work hour reductions while increasing service scores from [fiscal years] 2011 to 2012. In addition, the Postal Service reduced overtime at plants by more than 13 percent compared to the prior year." Productivity did show some decline in all plants in fiscal 2012, dropping by slightly more than 1.6 percent over the prior fiscal year, the IG report said. Part of that decline in productivity was because the plants processed more pack- ages as a percentage of total volume in fiscal 2012---and processing packages decreases overall productivity because it is more labor-intensive to sort packages than other mail. Among other recommendations, the IG recommended that the vice president of network operations work reduce work hours by 14.4 million, for a savings of $629 million, by no later than fiscal 2018. See the report at: www.uspsoig.gov/ sites/default/files/document-library- files/2013/no-ma-13-007.pdf. ••• In Brief TSP touts new mobile version of website The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board said smartphone users who access tsp.gov now will be directed automatically to a new mobile version of the Thrift Savings Plan website. FRTIB said plan participants will not need to download an app to use the new mobile version. TSP mobile access offers the same informational, transactional and interactive functionality of the regu- lar tsp.gov site, according to the board. The board said the system relies on a new "responsive web design" that pro- vides optimal viewing for the type of device the participant is using to access tsp.gov. The system recorded about 60,000 smartphone log-ons to tsp.gov via mobile access over the past week, the board said. See more at: www.frtib.gov/pdf/reports/ PressReleases/PR_2013-10-21_TSP- MyAccount-Mobile-Access.pdf. OPM orders FMLA rule changes to include same-sex spouses The Office of Personnel Management directed agency and department heads to implement rule changes that will allow federal employees to use Family and Medical Leave Act leave to care for same- sex spouses. OPM acting Director Elaine Kaplan issued a memorandum Oct. 21 directing departments and agencies to discontinue use of the definition of spouse found in OPM's current FMLA regulation, and instead define spouse as a partner in any legally recognized marriage, regardless of the employee's state of residency. The agency issued the memo to serve as interim guidance while OPM com- pletes changes to its FMLA regulations in response the Supreme Court deci- sion earlier this year that overturned a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act that had prevented the government from extending benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees. The directive is effective June 26, 2013. While employees will not be able to ret- roactively invoke entitlement to FMLA leave under the directive, the memo noted that those "who took otherwise- qualifying leave for a same-sex spouse between June 26, 2013, and the date of this memorandum will be permitted to re-designate such time off as FMLA leave." See the memo at: www.chcoc. gov/transmittals/TransmittalDetails. aspx?TransmittalID=5834. New OPM guidance settles shut- down questions The Office of Personnel Management this month released new post-shutdown guidance to agencies to help them resolve remaining pay and benefits questions in the wake of the government shutdown. In an Oct. 17 memo to chief human capital officers, OPM acting Director Elaine Kaplan said OPM created the guidance in consultation with the
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Nov 4, 2013