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Thursday July 29, 2010

 
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OPM ADDRESSES THE NEED TO RECRUIT INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James discussed the need for a strong civil service, one that can handle the many challenges the federal government faces daily, before an audience of hundreds of people with disabilities and their mentors at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building.

"President Bush has made it clear that the federal government must be a model employer, and he has challenged us to lead by example when it comes to tearing down the barriers that prevent full participation of every American," said James. "We are indeed in a hiring mode, and OPM is proactive in championing initiatives that will attract the best and brightest."

The speech came during the launch of disabilityinfo.gov, a multi-agency effort to "get the word out" about the many programs offered by the federal government to help those with disabilities. The www.disabilityinfo.gov site includes information on civil rights, education, employment, housing, health care, technology and transportation.

"This event is just one of many ways OPM is strengthening strategic partnerships with other federal agencies," stated James. "OPM's piece of this web site offers a comprehensive source of federal employment information. You can access the USAJOBS listings and find all kinds of information that will help prospective applicants who are disabled, as well as managers and human resources professionals looking to give opportunities to members of that community."

Information about Medicare changes for 2003 can be found at www.hhs.gov.

 
 


SSA COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCES 1.4 PERCENT SOCIAL SECURITY INCREASE

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits to more than 50 million Americans will increase 1.4 percent in 2003, Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security announced Oct. 18.

"Today's news tells us that inflation continues to be low, which is certainly good news for the elderly and disabled," said Commissioner Barnhart. "Inflation is one of the biggest challenges for people living on a fixed income. The annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) ensures that a person's monthly benefit doesn't drop in value over time."

The 1.4 percent increase will begin with benefits that 46 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2003. Increased payments to 7 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31.

Social Security and SSI benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the prior year to the corresponding period of the current year. This year's increase in the CPI-W was 1.4 percent.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $87,000 from $84,900 in 2002.

As a result of the increase in the taxable maximum in 2003, the maximum yearly Social Security tax paid by employees and employers will increase by $130.20 each for a total of $5394.00. For self-employed workers, it will rise by $260.40 to a total of $10,788.00. Of the approximately 155 million workers who pay Social Security taxes, about 9.7 million are affected by the higher wage base in 2003.

 
 


ACT WOULD REVEAL FEDERAL PROGRAMS PRONE TO FINANCIAL MISMANAGEMENT

Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) announced Oct. 18 that the Senate has approved legislation requiring federal agencies to identify and report to Congress on programs that may be susceptible to improper payments. Improper payments result from a variety of causes ranging from bureaucratic, such as paying someone twice, to outright fraud.

The Senate passed H.R. 4878, the Improper Payments Information Act, which clarifies that agencies' reports should be publicly disclosed to Congress and requires the reportS to include a discussion of the causes of the improper payments, the actions being taken to address the situation, and the results of those actions. The House of Representatives is expected to adopt the substitute amendment when it reconvenes in November. "Public scrutiny is often the most effective tool in focusing agency managers' attention on certain issues, and Americans deserve to know if their tax dollars are being mismanaged," said Thompson.

"It is not just the Administration's responsibility to resolve improper payment issues. Congress holds the purse strings and should also be held accountable should this problem fail to be resolved." A recently released report by the Government Accounting Office found six government agencies reporting more than $19 billion in wasted taxpayer money, according to Thompson, and concluded that the actual extent of improper payments government-wide is unknown but is likely to be billions of dollars more.

 
 


NCD RELEASES INAUGURAL PAPER IN ADA POLICY BRIEF SERIES

The National Council on Disability today released the inaugural paper in a series of policy documents addressing specific topics raised by detrimental rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Righting the ADA, explains NCD's rationale for undertaking this comprehensive examination, the high expectations it had for the ADA, NCD's role regarding the ADA, the impact of the ADA, and an overview of this series of policy briefs.

Initially, NCD will respond to certain inaccurate comments about the ADA leveled by Justice O'Connor, and to several key media misrepresentations of and erroneous attacks on the ADA. Subsequently, NCD will examine various specific substantive aspects of the Court's rulings that have weakened or restricted the impact of the ADA, including the highly restrictive interpretation of the ADA's definition of "disability." Another major area to be addressed concerns constitutional limits on the power of Congress to enact disability rights laws such as the ADA and other civil rights legislation.

NCD plans to address some limitations the Court has imposed on the remedies available in ADA cases and take a cross-issue look at the consequences of the Supreme Court's decisions by contrasting the state of the law before the decisions were rendered with the legal situation after the decisions, to identify undesirable and unjust results in the decisions of the lower courts as a result of the Supreme Court's rulings and to summarize instances of unaddressed discrimination and injustices stemming from the Court's rulings that do not result in reported court decisions. NCD will then develop legislative proposals for addressing those issues that appear appropriate for legislative correction.

Finally, NCD will present its legislative proposals, along with pertinent supportive material from the previous papers in a final, comprehensive report Righting the ADA.

 
 


NEW OERM DIRECTOR NAMED AT OPM

Kay Coles James, director of the Office of Personnel Management, recently announced that Clarence Crawford has been named as director of the Office of Executive Resources Management for OPM.

"I look forward to Clarence's contribution to our team at this important time. OPM staff are about to embark on a comprehensive restructuring of the agency and I look forward to the counsel Clarence will provide regarding the SES, OPM transformation, and other strategic issues. Clarence's skills, expertise, and career civil service experience will be a tremendous asset to our team," James said.

OERM's mission is to improve the performance of the federal government by helping agencies select, develop, and manage a quality executive corps that is prepared to lead the continuing transformation of government.

Crawford comes to OPM from the Patent and Trademark Office where he served as the principle management advisor to James Rogan, undersecretary for Intellectual Property and director of the USPTO. Crawford succeeded in reducing his organization's relative cost by 20 percent while increasing customer satisfaction by 33 percent. He has held several positions within the federal government including positions at the Office of Management and Budget, the General Accounting Office, and the Internal Revenue Service. Crawford has also served his community as an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

 

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