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Joe Davidson's Federal Diary column monitors workplace issues for federal government employees.


Saving the goverment a million here, a million there and more

Tue, 22 Mar 2011 06:41:00 EDT

If you want ideas on how to save money, ask the people who spend it. That's what President Obama did when he began the SAVE Awards two years ago.

OPM's John Berry calls for new performance-review system for federal workers

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 10:16:00 EDT

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry calls for a new performance-management system, without big changes to the General Schedule.

OPM's John Berry calls for new performance-review system for federal workers

Thu, 17 Mar 2011 00:37:00 EDT

OPM Director John Berry calls for a new performance-management system, without big changes to the General Schedule.

Court faults USPS in firing of decorated Afghan war veteran

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 19:49:01 EDT

Federal court overturns a ruling that favored USPS in a dispute with a decorated sergeant major, finding that he had not abandoned the post office for military service.

Wis. slashing of collective-bargaining rights jars federal unions

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 19:47:01 EDT

The decision to severely slash public employee collective-bargaining rights in Wisconsin is sending a jolt through federal unions in Washington.

Battle royal over federal worker pay

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 22:37:01 EST

All that Wednesday's House hearing on federal pay needed to be complete was an announcer with a booming voice asking the packed room, "Are you ready to rumble?"

Hearing highlights need for Foreign Service training, lack of congressional interest

Tue, 08 Mar 2011 22:30:01 EST

At a time when some North African and Middle East states are in chaos and America is posting large numbers of civilians in war zones, the United States is sending Foreign Service officers abroad poorly equipped to deal with the critical situations they face.

Historic union vote for airport officers begins

Mon, 07 Mar 2011 20:39:01 EST

At a time when basic public employee union activities in state governments are under attack, Uncle Sam is staging what labor leaders say is the largest federal union organizing effort in history.

Higher federal withholding is taking a bite out of retirees' annuity checks

Thu, 10 Feb 2011 23:10:03 EST

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. From time to time, we give readers a chance to speak out on issues affecting federal workers.

Presidential recognition finally comes for 28 who died in Texas Tower #4 collapse in 1961

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 21:36:01 EST

Little things can mean a lot, even when those little things are a long time coming.

Republicans aiming to stamp out new TSA collective-bargaining rights

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST

Even before the nation's transportation security officers get collective bargaining rights, Republicans on Capitol Hill are working to block them.

Reagan's complicated legacy for federal workforce

Mon, 07 Feb 2011 23:54:01 EST

This week marks the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth. When it comes to federal employee issues, he's probably most remembered as a big union-busting president.

Deficit-cutters must also weigh cost of contractors

Thu, 03 Feb 2011 19:34:01 EST

When the Obama administration released figures showing Uncle Sam spent less on outside contractors for the first time in 13 years, the data pointed to a little-publicized difference in the way Democrats and Republicans approach deficit reduction.

Sen. Daniel Akaka talks about federal workforce issues

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 22:18:00 EST

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka is starting his fourth year as chairman of the Senate subcommittee on the federal workforce. It promises not to be like the last.

Employee group shows impact of proposed cuts on government services

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 00:25:00 EST

Federal employee organizations have been speaking out against plans to cut the federal workforce that have gained traction since the Republicans won the House in November. The pushback has come in mostly predictable ways that probably has done little to show the public that cutting the workforce cou

U.S. Park Police Chief Chambers is reinstated

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 19:20:00 EST

Teresa Chambers is back in her office. Ultimately, she overcame an unworthy effort to boot her from her job as chief of the U.S. Park Police. She was reinstated Monday, bringing to an end a long, high-profile battle in which a whistleblower scored an uncommon victory over Uncle Sam. Victories, ho...

Federal Diary: 1980s hostages reflect on captivity, U.S.-Iran relations

Thu, 27 Jan 2011 18:49:01 EST

Three decades don't help the ugly look any better. It was 30 years ago this month that a few hundred Iranians took American diplomats hostage in an act of political kidnapping that still poisons relations between the two countries. "It was wrong on every conceivable count," said L. Bruce Laingen,...

Employee input key to reorganization effort

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 23:31:02 EST

"Presidents have taken to reorganizations the way overweight people take to fad diets - and with about the same results." - James Q. Wilson in "Bureaucracy: What government agencies do and why they do it."

Federal Diary: Freshman lawmaker, put in charge of workforce panel, says cuts are a must

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 01:00:02 EST

Let's begin with a cautionary tale on governmental efficiency and how not to impress the new chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the federal workplace.

Media Files:

Federal workforce budget cuts would mean customer service cuts for taxpayers

Mon, 24 Jan 2011 22:21:01 EST

If you thought the two-year pay freeze President Obama and Congress imposed on federal employees would mollify Republican calls for harsher worker sacrifices, you would be wrong.

Small agency conducts big election

Thu, 20 Jan 2011 22:25:01 EST

The final stretch of the nation's largest union organizing contest is about to begin.

A call to federal service, in President John F. Kennedy's memory

Wed, 19 Jan 2011 20:09:04 EST

"Government service must be attractive enough to lure our most talented people. It must be challenging enough to call forth our greatest efforts. It must be interesting enough to retain their services. It must be satisfying enough to inspire single-minded loyalty and dedication. It must be import...

How to keep talent? Money alone won't guarantee job satisfaction.

Tue, 18 Jan 2011 20:30:01 EST

Uncle Sam doesn't have a big problem retaining his workers - at the moment.

Federal retirees shouldn't be getting workers' comp, senator says

Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:34:00 EST

To ensure that people too old to work aren't cheating the system, Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) wants the Government Accountability Office to study the program that provides income to injured federal workers.

Coalition's letter opposing cuts in benefits carries risk

Thu, 13 Jan 2011 20:35:01 EST

Fighting for its members in the face of proposed budget cutbacks, a coalition of federal employee organizations has asked President Obama to reject proposals to cut health and retirement benefits, reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent and freeze pay for three years.

A victory for former Park Police chief might not be a victory for whistleblowers

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 22:55:00 EST

A Federal Diary column last April carried the headline: "Will day of justice finally arrive for Park Police whistleblower?"

Social Security judges facing increasing threats of violence

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 22:50:02 EST

Losing Social Security disability benefits can be devastating. Potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits can disappear if an administrative law judge rules against those fighting to get money they think they're due.

Federal employees killed in Giffords shooting reflect alarming trend of violence

Mon, 10 Jan 2011 15:05:01 EST

I'm writing this column as if there were a heavy, black drape around its borders. It would commemorate the lives of John M. Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, two federal employees killed, along with four others, by the crazed gunman who critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords just outside Tucson on Sat...

Public opinion, congressional upheaval won't help the federal worker

Thu, 06 Jan 2011 19:14:01 EST

If all the promises in the Republican Pledge to America are honored like the party's quickly broken commitment to cut government spending by $100 billion, federal employees may have little reason for concern.

Pay freeze doesn't leave all federal workers out in the cold

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 20:14:03 EST

While weather forecasters predict the nation will have its coldest January in many years, the freeze has already set in for federal employees, most of whom have had their pay put on ice for two years beginning Jan. 1.

Media Files:

With Voinovich's Senate departure, federal workers lose a champion

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 00:26:00 EST

When Congress convenes Wednesday, George V. Voinovich won't be there to remind representatives and senators, as he often did, "how important it is that we have . . . the right people with the right skills at the right place at the right time."

Top 2010 stories about the federal civilian workforce

Tue, 04 Jan 2011 08:11:00 EST

Happy new year! Let's begin 2011 with a look at the top 2010 stories about the federal civilian workforce. Last year was a mixed bag for federal employees, and the biggest news wasn't good for them. Just as the holiday season was getting underway, President Obama announced a two-year pay freeze f...

Readers share their thoughts

Thu, 23 Dec 2010 05:44:42 EST

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. We like to give readers a chance to speak out by occasionally printing some of those letters.

Readers react to recent Federal Diary columns

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 17:37:00 EST

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. We like to give readers a chance to speak out by occasionally printing some of those letters.

What if negotiated raises and federal pay freeze collide?

Mon, 20 Dec 2010 19:45:01 EST

How will the salaries of federal employees whose wages are negotiated through collective bargaining be affected by the two-year pay freeze proposed by President Obama?

Pay freeze could heat things up at the exits

Thu, 16 Dec 2010 20:00:01 EST

Actions have consequences. One unintended consequence of the two-year pay freeze President Obama asked Congress to impose on federal workers is the impact it may have on higher income employees and those eligible to retire.

Whistleblower protection bill hits sudden stop in Congress

Wed, 15 Dec 2010 23:12:01 EST

After 12 years of working to improve protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on government waste, fraud and abuse, Congress was on the verge of passing legislation to make that happen. Then Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) put up a roadblock that could derail the bill.

Obama plans federal workplace diversity effort

Tue, 14 Dec 2010 19:55:01 EST

If creating a government workforce that reflects the people it serves, particularly at top civil service levels, is a high priority for Uncle Sam, you can't tell it by his record.

Breakdown by sex, race

Mon, 13 Dec 2010 23:21:00 EST


Federal workers may not get payroll tax holiday

Mon, 13 Dec 2010 20:57:02 EST

For hundreds of thousands of federal workers, Scrooge seems to be running the merrymakers out of town.

For federal workers stretched thin, pay freeze would be beyond cold

Thu, 09 Dec 2010 19:54:01 EST

As President Obama and members of Congress move to freeze the pay of federal employees, they should keep people such as Sharon Faison in mind.

Black narcotics agent's unresolved 1977 bias suit illustrates frustrations of discrimination claims

Thu, 09 Dec 2010 00:28:00 EST

It's been 40 years since Henry W. Segar was hired by the federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, but he remembers those days clearly, if not always fondly.

Obama still getting push back on pay freeze for federal workers

Wed, 08 Dec 2010 00:45:02 EST

Despite the opposition to President Obama's plan to freeze federal pay, many federal workers still would have increased income with the freeze because of longevity-based raises and bonuses.

Media Files:

Child-care subsidy is spotty for government employees

Mon, 06 Dec 2010 20:12:03 EST

Uncle Sam strives to be a model employer, as least for now. That goal could take a hit with plans for pay freezes and workforce reductions, but he remains a cut above many private employers, particularly when it comes to benefits. One benefit he provides, at least on paper and to some workers, is ch

Media Files:

High priority for USPS: Solutions to stop billions in losses

Thu, 02 Dec 2010 23:48:01 EST

Patrick R. Donahoe began his first congressional hearing as postmaster general-designate on a sunny note.

Federal workforce would share deficit-reduction pain in various ways

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 22:40:02 EST

The federal workforce would take a hit, along with many other parts of government, under a plan released Wednesday by a presidential commission that's trying to get the nation's finances in order.

Deficit panel sharpening its scissors on federal pay

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 22:51:00 EST

If federal employees feel like President Obama's plan to freeze their pay has Uncle Sam's foot on their necks, they should watch for other shoes to drop.

Obama's plan to freeze federal salaries gets a cold reception

Mon, 29 Nov 2010 23:12:03 EST

Winter is not officially here yet, but a freeze is falling over the federal workplace.

Media Files:

From budgets to benefits, our mailbag overflows

Tue, 23 Nov 2010 22:01:03 EST

The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print. We give readers a chance to speak out by occasionally printing a few of their letters, which may be edited for clarity and length.

Media Files:

In open season for insurance plans, look beyond premium

Tue, 23 Nov 2010 09:09:00 EST

Open season, the period when federal employees can choose health insurance plans, runs through Dec. 8.

Telework legislation is good news for budgets and workers

Thu, 18 Nov 2010 19:02:01 EST

At last. After tons of paper, vats of ink and who knows how many meetings and conferences on a seemingly simple subject, Congress has given final approval to legislation promoting telework for federal employees. Some employees already work away from their offices, though less than 10 percent. The...

Full body scans create new friction for airport screeners

Wed, 17 Nov 2010 19:55:03 EST

John Pistole likes to talk about how employees in the Transportation Security Administration he heads are on the front lines of airline safety.

Officials to give themselves a round of applause for reforms in the hiring process

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 19:27:00 EST

When it comes to the federal hiring process, horror stories once proliferated like dandelions in a spring lawn.

FLRA decision on letting airport screeners vote on union will bring historic election

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 20:19:02 EST

Let the battle begin. Friday's decision by the Federal Labor Relations Authority to allow airport security screeners to vote on union representation clears the way for a history-making election among federal government employees. In a significant victory for organized labor, the FLRA ruled that 5...

Debt-reduction proposals add fuel to criticism of government workforce

Thu, 11 Nov 2010 19:12:01 EST

If federal employees didn't read the handwriting on the wall when Republicans won the House last week, they shouldn't miss the red lights that began flashing with the release of sweeping proposals to rectify the nation's finances.

Just what the heck is our government trying to tell us?

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 22:50:01 EST

You can't work in this town 10 minutes without drowning in gobbledygook.

How to truly honor Veterans Day? Give them more jobs.

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 00:17:01 EST

Tuesday was a good day for veterans at the Office of Personnel Management.

Federal hiring ruling goes veterans' way

Mon, 08 Nov 2010 22:34:01 EST

Attrition is high among new workers at many government agencies

Fri, 05 Nov 2010 02:08:00 EDT

As soon as Uncle Sam finds good employees, he loses a bunch of them.

Attrition is high among new workers at many government agencies

Thu, 04 Nov 2010 18:51:01 EDT

As soon as Uncle Sam finds good employees, he loses a bunch of them.

GOP-controlled House will give some bills new life

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 19:19:01 EDT

What a difference an election day makes. Republican legislation affecting federal employees that went nowhere in an 111th Congress controlled by Democrats will now see the sun in the 112th, with the GOP in control of the House. Bills that would freeze or cut federal pay, fire federal workers who ...

Federal Diary: Despite campaign bashing, workers prove their patriotism

Tue, 02 Nov 2010 20:11:01 EDT

Across the country, a number of federal workers, always a patriotic bunch, took Tuesday off to get involved with government in a way they can't do on the job.

Obama's federal hiring reform efforts 'moving in right direction, OPM director says

Mon, 01 Nov 2010 20:09:07 EDT

It was one of those uniquely Washington moments. A beauty queen led a toast Monday to improvements in the federal hiring process. Let's hail the new and bid farewell to the old, said Jen Corey, Miss D.C. 2009. In a statement issued before the toast, John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel...

Lawmakers receive low marks on key issues

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 19:41:00 EDT

Although the Democratic control of Capitol Hill has been good for federal workers, the second session of the 111th Congress was a bummer compared with the first.

Freshman from Utah is making a name for himself

Thu, 28 Oct 2010 06:42:00 EDT

Union hails agreement with Forest Service on benefits for domestic partners

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 23:55:01 EDT

The National Federation of Federal Employees is hailing an agreement with the Forest Service that will provide certain benefits for the domestic partners of employees as "an historic achievement."

Federal employees engaged, enraged over possible Republican takeover of House

Mon, 25 Oct 2010 22:32:02 EDT

The past two years have been good ones for federal employees, and their unions are trying to make sure the good times don't stop now.

Media Files:

Picking up slack in the Foreign Service

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 08:57:26 EDT

Federal Diary readers have a lot to say. Occasionally, we print their letters, including these:

At OPM, an overhaul of retirement processing

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 13:58:56 EDT

In the latest attempt to fix a dysfunctional federal retiree program, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry announced Wednesday yet another overhaul of a system that leaves retirees waiting months for their checks.

For a Foreign Service officer with MS, what is 'around the world'?

Tue, 19 Oct 2010 22:29:01 EDT

Should medical conditions prevent State Department applicants from joining the Foreign Service if they can't serve in every single post in the world?

Dissatisfaction in federal employee pay sign of disconnect

Mon, 18 Oct 2010 20:32:01 EDT

Like the late bug-eyed comic Rodney Dangerfield, federal employees sometimes get no respect.

GAO: Contractors get federal business despite violations

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 23:31:00 EDT

When Uncle Sam dishes out billions of dollars in contracts to companies doing the government's work, you'd think he'd want to deal with firms that don't break his laws.

Electronic compliance report isn't helping veterans get jobs with private contractors

Tue, 05 Oct 2010 20:33:00 EDT

Everybody loves veterans. Holidays are named for them. Parades are devoted to them. Politicians of all stripes make a public display of embracing them. But when it gets right down to how Uncle Sam serves former service members, the picture can get murky. Testimony submitted for a congressional he...

Health insurance costs are up, but it could be worse

Mon, 04 Oct 2010 19:09:06 EDT

The good news is that the price federal employees and retirees will pay for their health insurance next year won't go up as much as premiums did this year.

Senate approves teleworking bill

Fri, 01 Oct 2010 02:12:01 EDT

Teleworking for federal employees took a major step forward with legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday night.

Senior pay level workforcePercentage of SPL positions in FY 2009
Hispanic or Latino3.62
White men61.15