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Federal Employees News Digest : Dec 9, 2013
December 9, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 21 5 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com continued on page 8 indicator of good management, financial success and long-term stability." According to proponents, the Corporate Responsibility Index would include "stocks of companies that maintain strong corporate governance, sustainable envi- ronmental policies and practices, solid workplace relations, positive community involvement, safe products and respect for human rights around the world." To see more, go to: http://langevin.house. gov/press-release/langevin-and-white- house-support-good-corporate-governance. Many agencies score poorly in plain writing A group that promotes clearly written government and business documents last month issued its 2013 report card on how well federal departments and agencies are complying with the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires publicly distributed documents to be written in a "clear, concise, well-organized" manner. The Center for Plain Language gave depart- ments and independent agencies two grades -- one for compliance with the basic require- ments of act, and one based on the group's assessment of how well their documents stick to the principles of plain language. Top honors went to the Social Security Administration, the only one of the 20 orga- nizations analyzed to get an A grade in both compliance and plain writing---and the only one to get an A in plain writing. Several others got an A in compliance, but scored lower in plain writing. These includ- ed the Department of Agriculture, which got a B in writing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which got a C in writing, and the Small Business Administration and Department of Transportation, which got D and C grades in writing, respectively. The lowest grades for compliance went to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Homeland Security, NASA and the Treasury Department, each of which got an F. The lowest writing grade went to the Labor Department---the only organiza- tion in the report to get an F for writing. But plain writing appeared rather elusive at other agencies as well, with nine of the 20 departments and agencies receiving a D grade, six receiving a C, and only three receiving a B. See the full 2013 report card at: http:// centerforplainlanguage.org/resources/plain- writing-laws/plain-language-report-card/. ••• In Brief Tricare enhances online customer service access Tricare has upgraded its website to give beneficiaries better access to customer ser- vice features. The Tricare.mil home page on Dec. 1 debuted a new "I want to..." section that pro- vides beneficiaries with a gateway to a range of quick links to secure login portals where they can access various self-service features for managing their health care coverage. The new web design provides secure login portals to customer service features that allow beneficiaries to manage prescrip- tions, enroll or purchase a plan, find a physician, update personal information, file or check on claims, pay a bill, book appoint- ments at a military hospital or clinic, change a primary care physician, or view military health records, among other tasks. Tricare said the new function also accom- modates other common requests, such as comparing plans or checking what is covered. See more on the new function at: http:// tricare.mil/CoveredServices/BenefitUpdates/ Archives/12_3_13_Iwantto.aspx. Group targets after-dark mail delivery A grassroots postal activist group wants the U.S. Postal Service to end after-dark mail deliveries in the wake of the killing of a Washington, D.C.-area city carrier assistant while on his mail delivery route. Community and Postal Workers United, whose primary mission has been to fight postal privatization efforts and closure of mail facilities, faulted the Postal Service for management decisions which it said produced conditions that contributed to the death of Tyson Jerome Barnette. According to the group, "the tragedy was set up by the consolidation of mail processing and understaffing in the clerk craft, which has forced carrier start times later in the day" and lengthened routes beyond eight hours. "We call on USPS management to end delivery after dark, to fully fund staff car- rier and clerk positions to allow early start and end times for letter carriers, to adjust overburdened routes to eight hours, and to restore mail processing capacity," said a statement on the group's website. The organization maintained that "the tragedy will be repeated" without major changes to the current system. Get more information at: http://cpwun- ited.com/home. New debt ceiling deadlines loom As Congress continued to work on a new budget agreement, the Congressional Budget Office last month offered a snapshot of the new fiscal deadlines facing lawmakers. The current continuing resolution again suspended the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. But if the suspension is not extended--- or if lawmakers fail to agree to a higher debt limit before Feb. 8---the Treasury once again will not be able to borrow under standard procedures. So to avoid exceeding the debt ceiling, the Treasury would once again start using "extraordinary measures" to continue to borrow for a short time. CBO said the government's "well-estab- lished toolbox" of extraordinary measures include, among other things, suspending the investments of the Thrift Savings Plan G Fund; suspending the issuance of new secu- rities to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund; and redeeming in advance securities held by those two funds that are equal in value to benefit payments that are due in the near future. Law requires all those funds to later be made whole---that is, restored to where they would have been had they not been touched. While CBO estimates those measures would probably be exhausted in March, there may be more breathing room avail- able: According to the CBO report, "the continued from page 4
Dec 2, 2013
Dec 16, 2013