In This Issue
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FMA Washington Report: April 12, 2021
This report provides an update on issues affecting federal managers. As always, I encourage you to visit www.fedmanagers.org
on a regular basis for more information on these and other matters.
Also, be sure to look for the FMA Grassroots Update, where we offer links to action letters and FMA-PAC matters we do not address in the Washington Report. The grassroots newsletter is sent exclusively to non-governmental email addresses to avoid any Hatch Act violations. If you are not receiving it, contact the national office to provide your non-governmental email address.
Please feel free to provide feedback any time by emailing Greg Stanford at email@example.com
, or by calling the National Office at (703) 683-8700. Thank you for your membership in FMA. It’s an honor to represent your interests before Congress and the administration.
FMA Working For You!
FMA a Contributor to the NAPA Comprehensive Congressionally-Mandated Report on OPM
On March 17, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) released its report titled, “Elevating Human Capital: Reframing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Leadership Imperative.” The report was mandated by Congress to study OPM’s functions and “the associated challenges in executing those functions.”
FMA was interviewed and contributed insights to NAPA for its report. FMA National President Craig Carter, National Vice President Ron Gryga, and President Emeritus Patricia Niehaus provided their expertise to NAPA researchers, as did Executive Director Todd Wells and Director of Government and Public Affairs Greg Stanford.
NAPA examined OPM’s mission, functions, and procedures as well as documents from Congress, executive policy, and literature on human capital management best practices. The final report provides recommendations for improving OPM’s functioning including sections on OPM’s role, leadership, and mission; OPM’s core mission functions and programs; and, supporting functions enabling mission execution. FMA was proud to contribute to NAPA’s comprehensive effort and looks forward to continuing to work with NAPA President and CEO Teresa Gerton and her team toward the mutual goal of improving OPM to better serve managers and all employees of the federal workforce.
FMA Supports Improved Whistleblower Protections
On April 1, FMA joined a letter to President Biden and congressional leaders, “to support freedom of speech protections for whistleblowers who strengthen our nation’s democracy, challenge abuses of power that betray the public trust, and catalyze accountability.” The letter, spearheaded by the Government Accountability Project, gathered signatures from 263 organizations in addition to FMA.
The letter states, “Improvements to whistleblower protections, historically passed by Congress with bipartisan and nearly unanimous support, and supported by 86 percent of Americans according to a recent Marist poll, are a crucial first step to ensuring accountability and establishing safeguards in the federal government. Public servants should be able to disclose evidence of wrongdoing without fear of reprisal or futility. Truth shared by whistleblowers fuels oversight mechanisms by shining a light on existing weaknesses, inefficiencies, and injustices. We must protect those who courageously speak out about abuses of public trust that undermine our nation’s safety and security and threaten our democracy.”
FMA Endorses Bill to Reform the Windfall Elimination Provision
The Federal Managers Association (FMA) has for years supported bringing an end to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), an unfair law that punishes some retired civil servants by drastically cutting the amount of Social Security benefits they are eligible to receive. We are pleased to report there is new legislation in the House of Representatives, the Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act of 2021 (H.R. 2337), to reform WEP and end the harm to retired civil servants. The bill was introduced by Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
In a statement issued to announce the introduction of the bill, Neal wrote, “The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act garnered more support in Congress last year than any previous WEP reform bill. This year, I look forward to building on that momentum to advance the bill even further, and we’re off to a running start with 139 original cosponsors . . . The WEP negatively affects nearly 2 million retired public servants across the country, including 83,000 in Massachusetts. Public employees like firefighters, teachers, and police officers should not miss out on the Social Security benefits they earned over decades of hard work. With this legislation, these valued members of our communities will have greater retirement security and peace of mind.”
FMA Joins Fed-Postal Coalition Letter to Restore Merit Systems Protection Board
On March 23, FMA joined nearly 25 organizations within the Federal-Postal Coalition (FPC) on a letter to the Biden Administration urging quick action to restore a quorum on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is the primary forum available to federal employees to enforce their workplace rights. As we have noted recently, FMA has been active in our efforts to restore the MSPB, which has lacked a quorum for four years – since January 2017 – and has not had any Senate-confirmed members since March 2019. In that time, more than 3,000 federal workers have been deprived of an opportunity for justice and an adjudicative hearing before the body, leaving both them and their former agencies in limbo. FMA has been vocal on this issue for years, and again included it as an issue brief in 2021.
The FPC letter said, “Traditionally, the MSPB sustains roughly 85 percent of personnel actions. In these cases, the finality of an MSPB decision provides clarity to agencies regarding their handling of personnel matters. In the 15 percent of cases where the MSPB rules in favor of the employee, the employee often returns to work with back pay. Each day the MSPB operates without a quorum, the back pay agencies will need to provide to reinstated employees grows. Some reports estimate agencies will owe at least $60 million in back pay once final decisions resume. Without a functioning MSPB, thousands of federal employees, including critical federal whistleblowers, are denied justice at a costly expense to taxpayers.”
OPM Deems Health Plans “Essential”
On April 2, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a final rule stating federal employees will not lose their health benefits during government shutdowns. The rule implements provisions within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020 to make certain federal health and life insurance services “essential.”
Employees who have been furloughed as a result of a government shutdown will continue to be able to make changes to their Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) services. The rule also allows employees to keep coverage under their Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP).
FMA Manager of the Year Kimberly Price Spotlighted in FEDManager.com
FMA publishes the Hear It from FMA monthly column in the FedManager.com newsletter, which has a circulation of 60,000. In the April edition, we felt it was important to spotlight the achievements of FMA Manager of the Year and President of FMA Chapter 191, Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), Kimberly Price. Kimberly has been an employee of the RRB since 1990, and over the course of her three-decade career has risen through the ranks to her current position as Director of Policy and Systems. She is the first woman and the first African American to hold this coveted executive level position at the RRB.
Kimberly serves as a model for congenial and productive engagement with unions, and works closely with the local AFGE chapter on issues of agreement while ensuring that potential hotspots do not disrupt the smooth operation of her office and the RRB as a whole. FMA’s Adam Kay interviewed Kimberly as part of an article that will appear in the summer issue of The Federal Manager, our quarterly magazine. While the interview touched on a wide variety of subjects, from her tips for new supervisors to her staff’s heroic efforts over the course of the past year, many readers may be particularly interested in what she sees as one of the greatest challenges – and potential opportunities – facing federal agencies; the silver tsunami of retirements that is beginning to crash across the federal workforce.
Get Involved At These Events!
Engaging Your Chapter with Your Community: An FMA Town Hall with Sue Thatch (Chapter 21)
FMA will hold our April Town Hall on Tuesday, April 13, at 8:00 PM Eastern. The title of this event is “Engaging Your Chapter with Your Community: An FMA Town Hall with Sue Thatch.” Sue is a longtime leader within Chapter 21, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and originated the idea that became the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, which has secured additional sick leave for tens of thousands of wounded veteran feds.
Sue will present on how to most effectively engage your chapter with your community, installation, or agency. In addition to hearing from Sue, there will be time for Q&A, socializing, and for you to share your own experiences.