Escape the Monday Dead Zone

Thanks to alternate work schedules, Mondays and Fridays are low-readership days for those of us in the fed-oriented media. But Senior Correspondent Mike Causey,...

For fed-oriented media outfits (like us) the lowest readership days, when we get the least number of hits, are Fridays and Mondays. That reflects, among other things, that lots of people are working flexible work shifts giving them an extra day off every two weeks.

Our marketing geniuses here (who also do landscaping and give $10 haircuts every other Thursday) say that a lot of people, and feds, don’t read news from their home computers. Pity, but what are you going to do?

For whatever reason, today is part of the dead zone. So if you are with us, thanks. If not, how can we hook you into becoming Friday and/or Monday readers too? And if not hook, punish. As in look what you’re missing.

To that end we are drafting readers to become writers.

Many of the best columns here (and I suspect elsewhere) are based on questions people ask, tips they give us, comments and criticism. We in the media are pretty much in an ivory tower whereas you guys are on the frontline, or in the front-office. So starting today we are going to put an emphasis on reader feedback. Call it Ground Truth. Or Monday Morning Quarter. Unless you’ve got a better name. If so let us know.

Meantime, let ‘er rip and keep ’em coming:

Teleworking Bias: “I’d love to take advantage of telework-flexiplace but as a secretary and mind you – a union dues paying employee… I am still not allowed to work at home. When asking over the last 16 years as to why I can’t, the same flimsy reason comes up repeatedly by management, ‘secretaries are not issued laptop computers!’ So get all of us secretaries a laptop computer so we have the same rights as everyone else in this organization. My defense over the years in all of this has been that with rising gas prices at times… who can better afford a tank of gas to get to and from work: A) a GS-11 or GS-12 bringing in over $60k a year or; B) a GS-5 secretary making far less then that? This needs to be considered for ALL employees to avoid this financial hardship that many of us face. In this bad economy my husband was out of work for ten months and it sure would have been helpful if I had the same rights in this organization, as everyone else making far more then me. As I’m writing this we have the situation in the Gulf where millions of gallons of precious oil are going to waste and you know gas prices will rise so dramatically soon that I’m wondering how I will get to work at all since I live far away from my office and public transportation is not an option for me.

“My preference is to actually work in the office but my personal finances often dictate the opposite at times. It should still be my right to have the same options as everyone else though.” IRS in Stockton

Telework Flip Flop: Folks really don’t know where they stand on the issue of teleworking or alternate work schedules until they need to use these options. When the alternate work schedule (AWS) and telework options first came to our Agency years ago, I was elated – even though I chose not to take advantage of them at the time. But my co-worker strongly opposed them and ranted about how ‘put-upon’ she would be when others were away from the office. Fast forward a couple of years later when, due to a medical situation, she needed to use both the telework and AWS options. Did her tune change!

“Today I telework one day a week. Our Agency does not provide equipment, supplies or services to enable us to telework. I don’t get a tax break because my teleworking is considered for my own convenience and not mandated by the office. I bought my own computer, fax and printer and pay for all services in support of teleworking. Does anyone honestly think I would undertake this expense to ‘goof off’? My telework days are very productive. I’d even go as far to say that one of the main reasons I have remained with my Agency when the going got tough is that I know that I don’t have to guess about being able to telework. Sign me . . . . Teleworking and Proud of It DoT

Golden Portfolio: “In light of the stock market crashing down 1,000 pts from the Greece chaos it is evident we as Federal Employees have real concerns about our vanishing pension funds.

“I do not agree that simply dumping your money in G fund is a good idea either because it is not keeping up with inflation. I was okay with most in stock funds until this Greece situation. The more paper currency (dollars) being printed by the Fed the more money we are losing as federal employees in the G and F funds.

“Is there any way to lobby the Federal Govt for a Gold and Precious Metals Fund as an option for the Thrift Savings Plan as a hedge against inflation (and the Fed printing unknown quanity of dollars causing this) and the volatile stock market?

“I for one am not feeling to good about any of these funds. So if there is some way to get the Federal Govt to include a Gold and Precious metals fund in Thrift Savings I’d sure love to have that option.” PTO Investor

Want a gold fund as a TSP option? Check this space tomorrow!

To reach me:

Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

When given a choice, reports, “Spiders Devour Ants Front-End First“. It seems they prefer the “protein-packed front parts” over the “fattier hind segment”. In other news, ants have fattier hind segments. (Your punchline goes here.)


Contract Overload: Are multiple award contracts out of control?
The proliferation of multiple award contracts across the government has reached a tipping point. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is on a listening tour trying to figure out how to tame this unwieldy beast. The administration’s efforts come as several agencies, including the Homeland Security Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Justice Department plan to recompete or issue new procurements for MACs in the coming year. In our special report, Contract Overload, Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller explores all sides of this complex issue. What is the cost to industry to continually bid on these contracts? How do these costs get passed to agencies? Why do agencies believe they need their own MACs instead of using contracts provided by the General Services Administration, or other governmentwide acquisition contracts? What, if anything, can OFPP do to reel in the explosion in redundant contracts? For more, click here.


Three Roth IRA tax traps to avoid
After weighing the pros and cons, before you decide to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, Ed Zurndorfer, registered employee benefits consultant, told Federal News Radio there are three basic tax traps you need to know about. Read more here.


Monday Morning Federal Newscast
Among the headlines this morning in the Federal Newscast: Postal Service cuts energy consumption, Whit Diffie Joins ICANN, VA call centers fail vets nearly half the time. For more, click here.

Census to use Web in future counts
The Census Bureau continues its 2010 population count, but they’re not wasting any time with a plan to use the Internet 10 years from now in the next census. Director Robert Groves told Federal News Radio the Bureau is already planning to test using the Internet using the American Community Survey (ACS). Read more here.

GAO: Comparison of military, civilian pay & benefits complex
Pay and benefits are a large part of how the Department of Defense attracts and retains members of the military, but some have argued that, when compared to what is available in the private sector, DoD falls short. The Government Accountability Office recently wrote a report, comparing compensation packages of members of the military with their counterparts in the private sector. Brenda Farrell is director of defense capabilities and management issues at GAO and said, part of the problem is that there is no way to directly compare the two. Read more here.

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