On today’s edition of the DorobekINSIDER
- Making leadership count at your agency. Tips from Tom Fox with the Partnership for Public Service. Click here for the full story.
- One fed is pioneering scientific discoveries that could lead to significant advances in health care. You’ll meet him. His work has made him a Service to America Medal finalist. Click here for the full story.
Yesterday, we discussed some of the challenges facing governments. Those inevitably impact how you do your job. And there are many challenges — I don’t have to tell you that. One of the big issues is pensions. And many see one of the states where there is a potential for a pension meltdown is in California, where the state’s government, Jerry Brown, is looking to pass retirement reforms — and where two of the state’s largest cities, San Diego and San Jose — have already passed retirement reforms.
Meanwhile, Federal Times notes that an online petition to extend federal health benefits to seasonal wildland firefighters is spreading like… wildfire.
John Lauer, a temporary firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, and thousands of his colleagues aren’t eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan because they only work for the government six months out of each year. But those six months are extremely busy — Lauer and other firefighters usually work 16-hour shifts each day — and dangerous. They started an online petition on change.org in late May, hoping to get 100,000 signatures and send it to President Obama. The National Federation of Federal Employees, of which Lauer is a member, said it gathered about 700 signatures over the next couple of weeks. On June 13, NFFE heard about the petition and began pushing it to its Forest Service bargaining unit employees. As of today — they have 107,000 signatures to that online petition.
Government isn’t alone facing a pension problem. The Wall Street Journal notes that big companies are finding no quick fixes for their pension-fund obligations. General Motors has said it would pare its pension obligations for retired white-collar workers by billions of dollars, in part by offering them a lump-sum payout. Ford plans to reduce the size of its pension plans. Lump sums may work for auto makers, but few other companies are expected to follow suit, pension experts say.
The SEVEN stories that impact your life for Thursday the 21st of June, 2012
- The negotiations surrounding the transportation bill are improving. The Hill Newspaper says lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are more optimistic after the intervention by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Funding for federal transportation projects will expire on June 30 without a deal.
- The Government Accountability Office says the government knows very little about its federal properties. The Washington Post reports, some federal buildings listed as in “excellent” condition had damaged ceilings, collapsed roofs, radiological contamination or severe roof damage caused by large fallen trees. The government is the largest holder of real estate in the US.
- The Army has suspended a firm in Afghanistan after news broke about the owners’ tax debts and the admission by one owner that he launched an online campaign against journalists. USA Today says Congressman Hank Johnson, has asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to expand the Pentagon investigations into Leonie Industries. In a letter, Johnson says the company may have misrepresented its finances while bidding for federal contracts and had started an online smear campaign directed against two USA TODAY journalists.
- The government is getting quicker at processing security clearances. But the Government Accountability Office says now that the government has made progress they need to continue to improve. Federal Times says the government had been plagued for years by a sluggish pace of background checks, which left hundreds of thousands of federal employees, military service members and contractors waiting for months for their clearances.
- Wired Magazine’s Danger room says the tJoint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia offered a class urging senior U.S. military officers to wage ‘total war’ on Islam. According to an inquiry ordered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the class was the result of ‘institutional failures in oversight and judgment’ at one of the military’s top educational institutions. Those are the results of a months-long, military-wide review into the U.S. armed forces’ educational programs, prompted by a series of Danger Room articles on counter-terrorism training that sought to portray the world’s billion-plus Muslims as enemies of the United States.” The instructor of the course, Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, spent weeks arguing that the US was at war with the Islamic faith. Dooley has now been stripped of his teaching position at the college and formally reprimanded — but not cashiered from the Army.
- The House has passed a new FDA bill that will help fund the agency. The Wall Street Journal says the bill will let the Food and Drug Administration collect about $6 billion in user fees from medical companies to help fund the agency. The bill, passed in a bipartisan majority voice vote, is expected to reach a final vote in the Senate next week. The $6 billion in fees would be paid over five years by the brand-name and generic drug industries and the medical-device industry.
- And on GovLoop, have you seen our new guide to workforce planning? The guide highlights best practices, tips and tricks and provide you with a starting point to improve your workforce development strategy. We have a video, audio and tons of blog posts to help walk you through the guide.
A few closing items
- Somebody in government finally asks a taxing question about the next war–At last, after 11 years of the United States at war, a few minutes of public discussion of a tax to pay for the fighting. But that would be for the next war. “What would be the impact of going to war again without committing to pay for that war with up-front taxes, something we did not do in either Iraq or Afghanistan, for the first time in the history of the country?” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta at a Senate Defense Appropriation subcommittee hearing on June 13. That’s a question that should be asked before any president sends U.S. forces into a fight overseas or members of Congress propose legislation that authorizes some sort of military action abroad, writes Walter Pincus.
- Many lawmakers not mentioning word ‘Congress’ in campaign ads–Across the country, something is missing from the campaign ads of men and women running for Congress: the word “Congress.” Likewise, “Senate,” “senator” and “representative” are making only rare cameos in these campaign ads. The absence is especially pronounced in the case of incumbents who are asking voters to reelect them in November, reports Rosalind S. Helderman.