GAO: USPS’ retiree health benefits fund could be depleted by 2030

In today's Federal Newscast, the Government Accountability Office said the Postal Service's retiree health benefits fund has over $60 billion in unfunded liabil...

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  • The Postal Service is on-track to deplete its retiree health benefits fund by fiscal 2030. The Government Accountability Office found the fund has over $60 billion in unfunded liabilities. Annual payments of $1 billion to $2 billion could prolong it’s life another 2-to-5 years. About half a million postal retirees receive health benefits. The Office of Personnel Management expects that number to remain about the same through 2035. (Government Accountability Office)
  • The Justice Department wants the U.S. Court of Appeals to expedite its appeal of a recent federal district court ruling which invalidated nine key provisions of the president’s executive orders on collective bargaining, official time and employee removals. DoJ attorneys said the court’s injunction “affects important” agency management issues and has governmentwide reach. Federal union attorneys said they oppose the expedited briefing. (Federal News Radio)
  • Veterans Affairs is appealing an independent arbitrator’s decision that ruled in the American Federation of Government Employee’s favor. The arbitrator said VA violated the terms of its contract with AFGE while implementing certain provisions of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. It instructed VA to start re-hiring employees it had fired without a performance improvement plan. AFGE said it has until October 24 to submit its own arguments. The timeline on a decision from FLRA is less clear. AFGE said the decision could come within a year or so. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senate Veterans Affairs Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) wants to know whether VA is actually using the hiring authorities Congress has given it in recent years to help fill some 45,000 vacancies. Tester said Congress has given VA 15 new hiring authorities since 2014, and VA’s vacancy data shows the agency either isn’t using the authorities, or the authorities themselves aren’t having the intended impact. He asked VA for more detail about the kinds of positions that have mission-critical vacancies. (Senate Veterans Affairs Committee)
  • The Army and Air Force named two new officials to high-ranking information technology positions. Greg Garcia is the Army’s new deputy chief information officer. He assumed the post on Monday after having last served as the CIO at the Army Corps of Engineers. Meanwhile, the Air Force has appointed Eileen Vidrine as its new chief data officer. She replaced Kimberly Crider, who became the Air Force’s first-ever CDO in 2017. Crider has moved on to become a senior advisor to the undersecretary of the Air Force. (Federal News Radio)
  • The military services began transitioning the administration and management of healthcare at all medical treatment facilities to the Defense Health Agency. The transition is part of the 2018 defense authorization act and gives DHA direct management over military hospitals to better integrate medical services. (Air Force)
  • Six contract awards pushed USDA into phase 2 of its IT modernization effort. Just before the clock struck midnight to usher in fiscal 2019, the General Services Administration met its goal of awarding six contracts under phase two of the Centers of Excellence effort. GSA chose a total of 12 contractors to provide the Agriculture Department with a host of IT modernization services around contact centers, customer service, data analytics cloud adoption and business modernization support services. GSA released the solicitations for phase 2 of the CoE effort in August and set a goal of making awards by September 30. (General Services Administration)
  • Federal employees wanting to help the Census Bureau count the population in 2020 can join the effort on their own time. A new memo from the Office of Management and Budget reminded agency leaders that they can allow current employees to have a second job within the bureau. Census expects to begin hiring for the 2020 count this coming January. In the 2010, more than 6,400 federal employees took part in the population count. (White House)

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