Federal Drive Interviews — March 12, 2013

Veronica Villalobos of OPM talks about progress in making federal offices more diverse. Jeff Sessions of Red River discusses a new poll about slashing the feder...

This is the Federal Drive show blog. Here you can listen to the interviews, find more information about the guests on the show each day and links to additional resources.

Today’s guests:

Veronica Villalobos
diversity and inclusion director
Office of Personnel Management

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A year ago this month, agencies responded to President Barack Obama’s order to make federal offices more diverse and inclusive. They released strategies and pledged to hold their leaders accountable for progress. But recruiting, promoting and even keeping employees from different backgrounds takes money, something hard to come by these days. Veronica Villalobos, diversity and inclusion director at the Office of Personnel Management, says agencies are getting creative.

Jeff Sessions
senior vice president of corporate strategy
Red River

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Most Americans aren’t bothered by the slashing of federal budgets. Ninety-four percent of people polled by the firm Red River say the government needs to cut its expenses.

Damon Penn
assistant administrator for National Continuity Programs

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New technology is letting FEMA contact people faster in an emergency than ever before. For example, its emergency alert system now sends text messages to your mobile phone. But with change comes new challenges. The new Amber Alert system has been known to send alerts in the middle of the night, sometimes to users on the other side of the country.

FEMA Video: Integrated Public Alert & Warning System

John Hunt
research mchanical engineer
Forest Products Laboratory, USDA

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Think “forest service” and you probably think trees and fern-lined sylvan canyons. But the agency is dabbling in the glitzy world of Hollywood. Its Forest Products Laboratory has helped build the first 100-percent sustainable studio set for the Fox comedy show “Raising Hope.” [See photo below.] That’s thanks to a recently expanded federal program.

L. Preston Bryant
National Capital Planning Commission

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What might the District of Columbia look like without its century-old law that limits building heights? Powerful lawmakers have asked one federal agency to reimagine the city. The National Capital Planning Commission is working with local officials on a study exploring what taller buildings in the nation’s capital could mean to the landscape, the federal government and national security.

John Mahoney
chairman of the labor and employment practice group
Tully Rinckey

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Picture this. You are a federal retiree. You become disabled. You get disability insurance from Social Security, so the Office of Personnel Management reduces your retirement annuity to offset it. That makes sense. But say you get better and drop the disability benefits. OPM won’t restore your annuity. That’s what the agency has been doing it for decades. But no more. John Mahoney from the law firm Tully Rinckey joins us to explain a new court ruling.


DoD Report

Cybersecurity Update

The Forest Products Laboratory helped build the first 100-percent sustainable studio set for the Fox comedy show ‘Raising Hope.'(Photo by ECOR Global)

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