Federal retirees cleared for CFC donations, following last year’s legal snag

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An operation for a child. Books for a college student. Meals and beds for a family who lost their home in a hurricane.

Since 1961, the Combined Federal Campaign, the federal workforce’s annual giving program, has raised more than $8.3 billion to support charities ranging from disaster relief, housing and education to medical research, the arts and animal welfare.

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“As we know, government alone can’t solve all of the challenges we face in the world. It’s just not possible,” Vince Micone, the chairman of the National Capital Area’s Combined Federal Campaign, said at Thursday’s CFC kickoff event in Washington. “We need others to help us, and that’s where the CFC comes in. We collaborate with partners and nonprofits and charities to help give people a helping hand. As federal employees and retirees, we present a powerful, caring community through the CFC.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which caused major flooding in North and South Carolina, federal employees have come forward, asking what they can do to help. The groundswell of support echoes last year’s effort to provide relief following hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“There are nonprofits on the ground right now that are still doing recovery work in Puerto Rico every day. And there are charities that are already on the ground, and will soon be on the ground, to help our neighbors in North Carolina and South Carolina,” Micone said.

However, the donations the CFC collects over the next four months will continue to focus more on the relief effort from last year’s hurricanes.

“So they’re not right here for right now,” Peace Corps Director Josephine Olsen said. “We can respond to hundreds of CFC charities that take the long view — that support disasters. These can be for the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Texas,” wildfires on the west coast of the United States, and other natural disasters around the world, including a devastating typhoon that recent struck the Philippines.

This year, the Washington metro area’s CFC campaign looks to raise $38 million between now and Jan. 11, 2019. Through an online portal, federal employees can donate to nearly 8,000 charities through payroll deduction, credit or debit cards, or through their bank account.

Federal employees can also volunteer their time. Last year, Olsen said workers pledged 50,000 hours to volunteer to CFC charities.

“We are going beyond the call of public service, year in and year out though the CFC to volunteer and do even more than what we’re called to do,” Micone said.

Last year marked the first time the federal retirees could contribute to CFC through their annuity, or one of the other payments options, but through a legal snag, they had to wait months before being able to donate through the online portal.

The Paperwork Reduction Act puts restrictions on the types of information that agencies can collect, and the number of people they’re able to solicit at any given time.

However, Lennell Quarles, the Client Services and Human Resources Director at the Food and Drug Administration, said federal retirees have been able to donate through the portal since Sept. 10,  the beginning of the solicitation period.

Jeff Pon, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, which leads the CFC, also applauded federal employees for giving back to their communities.

“It’s not about just the money, it’s not about technology. All those things are tools to getting us to changing lives of people — our community, our families.”

Pon said the CRC embodies some of his priorities as the director of OPM, which include digitizing paper processes, celebrating the workforce and modernizing the way federal employees work.