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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 9, 2013
Phil Piemonte, Managing Editor E-mail: email@example.com What's Inside44 DECEMBER 9, 2013 • VOL. 63, NO. 21 Grim outlook Beginning in January, members of Congress will no longer be part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Many con- gressional staffers are also going to have to go to the D.C. (as in Washington, D.C.) health exchange. Over time, if not immediately, that might not be a pretty or easy transition. It is hard to imagine a state exchange that will be better for the majority than the FEHBP is now. Although some federal workers don't like to hear it, the FEHBP is considered by most experts to be the best employer- sponsored health plan in the nation. It has long been the model used by various groups---and cited by politicians---seeking to improve the nation's health care system. While the FEHBP is the gold standard for workers, it is platinum-plus for retirees. One of the key reasons the FEHBP is so good is that it currently covers the men and women who make the laws. It covers ex-presidents and their families, current and former senators and repre- sentatives and, equally important, their staffs. It covers the people who actually draft legislation and who, by altering or adding a word or phrase, can make laws beneficial. To them. INSIGHT BY MIKE CAUSEY continued on page 2 For more news...see Federal Daily at www.FederalDaily.com • APWU pans retail pilot 3 • New TSP fund proposed 4 • In Brief 5 • Informed Investor 7 • Federal Benefits Q&A 8 continued on page 3 Telework is bright spot in poor year for feds This week, FEND's Nathan Abse talks with Cindy Auten, general manager of the public- private partnership Mobile Work Exchange, to discuss progress in federal telework in 2013, examine some of the impediments to more fully implementing telework in the federal workplace, and explore some pos- sible solutions to these problems. Auten's group conducts research and advocacy on the mobile federal workplace through its federal "Town Hall Meetings" and other events. Q&A with Cindy Auten, telework advocate Recently, the Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) revealed spe- cific problem areas for feds concerning pay and the federal workplace---obvious- ly including the long pay freeze, sequester and furloughs, and the continuing bad press for feds this year. However, one bet- ter area, according to employees, was the sense of opportunity for telework in fed- eral jobs. Yet that same survey and other research also show continuing impedi- ments to telework. Auten: Yes, the Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey told us that telework is a shining moment in an otherwise hard year for federal employees. With furloughs, pay freezes, and tough times for feds, they certainly saw telework as a perk in their jobs. Year over year, we've seen improvements in this area as well. But, here's the catch: it's a gradual change. Those who think one can set up telework overnight will be disappointed. You have discussed this before, and called it a "cultural change." Can you dis- cuss this? Auten: As with any cultural change, we do struggle with barriers---gaining manage- ment acceptance that telework is a benefit not only for employees but for the agency is critical. It's a cultural shift in how we work. Technology must enable a remote work- force, not hinder it. Other than a successful cultural change, what other elements are required to go beyond current partial measures? Auten: Adopting the right technology. Setting up the right infrastructure is criti- cal. If technology fails, then productivity fails. Finally, too, managers must under- stand how to measure performance based on work output. Seeing [how to do tele- work properly] does not equal productivity. Agencies have to break down this manage- ment misperception. With that in mind, training is critical. Management and tech- nology are keys to making telework last. What are you at Mobile Work Exchange doing to help overcome all the obstacles we've just discussed? Auten: While our website offers a vari- ety of resources---such as the eligibility gizmo and ROI calculator---Mobile Work Exchange also hosts events throughout the year to promote telework and mobility
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