USPS Is Still Far From Stable – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports the number of "open" jobs -- positions that employers advertise but have not found "qualified" applicants for -- has doubled from 1,900,000 jobs in June 2009 to 3,900,000 vacant positions in June 2013. Most of those positions fall in the IT category. One solution is knowledge partnerships between industry and government. We get insights from Cisco’s Don Neault.

But up front:

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Congress has yet to pass legislation that will financially stabilize the U.S. Postal Service despite warnings from the postmaster general that the organization will soon run out of money. The New York Times notes that the USPS has used up its $15 billion borrowing limit from the Treasury Department and defaulted on its last three required annual payments into a health care fund for future retirees. Each payment was worth $5.5 billion. The organization, overall, is raking in a loss on an annual basis. Last year, total revenue equaled $65 billion while operating expenses totaled $81 billion.

  2. Five Bureau of Prisons employees have filed a collective action suit against the federal government for failing to pay “essential” employees for working without pay from October 1-5. According to the employees, they should have received backpay on October 17 at the latest for those work days, given that they were not compensated on the next scheduled payday due to the shutdown. The Federal Times observes that since the suit was filed, hundreds of federal employees have attempted to join it.

  3. New legislation designed to reform DHS’ overtime pay policies will be introduced in the House in the next couple of weeks by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The legislation is expected to provide DHS border agents with fairer pay and to eliminate abuses such as the misuse of “Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime,” which some agents have taken to increase their paychecks while failing to work during those periods. The Washington Post reports that the bill’s primary change will be that unscheduled overtime exceeding 100 hours will be rewarded with compensatory time off, while scheduled overtime will be paid.     

  4. TSA Administrator John Pistole has ordered a review of security policies with airport police in the aftermath of the shooting at LAX. The review will evaluate security measures both at LAX and other airports throughout the country and will include an analysis of options for improving the safety of TSA workers. The Government Executive notes that among these options is the idea of arming TSA employees. This suggestion is supported by the American Federation of Government Employees union, but opposed by certain members of Congress.  

  5. Federal employees have received a small increase in per diem lodging rates for work-related travel in fiscal year 2014. The increase took effect on October 1, reports the Government Executive, and allows federal workers to now spend $83 per day on lodging as opposed to $77. Despite this small boost, GSA is keeping the per diem rate for meals and incidentals at $46 per day and has decided to eliminate the Conference Lodging Allowance, which enabled employees to spend 25 percent above per diem rates when attending a conference. This latter move is expected to save the federal government $10 million during the next fiscal year.  

  6. The GAO claims that there are more than 200 ways for federal agencies to integrate their IT services and that these consolidation strategies could save the federal government $5.8 billion by the end of 2015. NextGov notes that GAO’s estimates exceed those of the White House’s Chief Information Officer, Steven VanRoekel, whose PortfolioStat program is designed to combine agencies’ IT portfolios with an expected savings of $2.5 billion for the federal government. GAO attributes the discrepancy in savings to the fact that many federal agencies have failed to develop an effective plan for consolidating their IT portfolios and have neglected to report their IT integration strategies to the White House.    

  7. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved this week their version of the DATA Act, which establishes new requirements for agencies to standardize and make their data more transparent. Federal News Radio reports, however, that government officials question the feasibility of implementing the new law, arguing that steps can be taken in the direction of standardization and transparency, but that the degree of change the DATA Act requires may take longer than the legislation stipulates.

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