A Labor Department proposed rule would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees and applicants who inquire or discuss compensation. "Workers cannot solve a problem unless they are able to identify it," said Patricia Shiu, director of the DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in a Sept. 15 statement. "And they cannot identify it if they aren't free to talk about it without fear of reprisal."
The Veterans Affairs Department plans to bump pay for VA doctors and dentists in an effort to recruit more top talent, a Sept. 18 Federal Register Notice says. "These annual pay ranges are intended to enhance VA flexibility to recruit, develop and retain the most highly qualified providers to serve our nation's veterans and maintain a standard of excellence in the VA healthcare system," the notice says.
The House Tuesday passed a bill that would make it easier to discipline or fire poorly performing senior executives governmentwide. The bill (H.R. 5169) would expand the criteria for firing Senior Executive Service employees and allow agencies to suspend them for up to 14 days without pay.
Nearly 45 percent of agency decisions to dismiss employee discrimination claims were overturned by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal 2012. That's up 15 percent from four years prior, a Sept. 15 EEOC report says. In the equal employment opportunity process for federal employees, federal agencies initially process complaints of employment discrimination. Agencies can dismiss complaints without investigation on a variety of procedural grounds, the report says.
A former civilian Defense Department employee pled guilty last week to collecting more than $2.2 million in fraudulent federal healthcare claims, a Sept. 8 Justice Department statement says. Jonathan Hargett, who was living in Germany, was indicted in October 2013 and extradited in July for trial, the statement says. Hargett will be sentenced Nov. 18 and faces a likely prison term of 46 to 57 months and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000.
As the Office of Personnel Management kicks of the 2014 federal charity season, the agency launched a new initiative to let federal workers donate to charities outside their locality. OPM launched its universal giving program as part of the Combined Federal Campaign. With it, feds are no longer limited to donating to the charities listed on the local CFC charity list, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said in a Sept. 10 blog post.
The Office of Personnel Management plans to not review its contract with the company that allegedly defrauded OPM by not properly completing security clearance background checks and trying to cover up the situation. The move comes after the USIS--one of the contractors responsible for federal background checks--suffered a cyberattack in August that compromised the files of 25,000 Homeland Security Department workers and is under investigation by the FBI, the AP reported on Sept. 10.
A House bill that would stop the government from continuing to pay demoted senior executives their executive salaries would likely only affect one federal worker per year, a Sept. 8 Congressional Budget Office report says. The bill (H.R. 5169) would lead to lower discretionary spending for salaries and expenses for those removed from the SES for misconduct or underperformance, CBO says in the report, but the savings would be small because so few employees would be affected.
The Office of Personnel management issued a final rule Tuesday that will allow agencies to give flags to the next of kin of federal workers who die from on-the-job injuries due to terrorism, natural disasters or other circumstances determined by the president.
The Office of Personnel Management continued to reduce its retirement claims backlog in August, processing about 1,000 more claims than it projected it would, Sept. 5 OPM statistics show. OPM project it would receive about 7,400 claims and process about 8,000. That would have left the agency with nearly 14,000 claims still unprocessed in its backlog.