Federal grant assistance will be seminar topicWASHINGTON...

Newswatch ... ON FEDERAL WORKERS

June 17, 1992|By Carol Emert and Lisa Richwine | Carol Emert and Lisa Richwine,States News Service

WASHINGTON — Federal grant assistance will be seminar topic

WASHINGTON -- Local government officials interested in learning more about federal grants can get tips from federal agencies at a seminar next week in Annapolis.

The Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and Farmers Home Administration will give presentations and answer questions about their grant programs.

The seminar, which is being organized by Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 22 in the hearing room of the Legislative Services Building in Annapolis. Information: Flo Jolly, 261-2008.

Telecommuting:

Maryland Representatives Steny Hoyer, D-5th, and Tom McMillen, D-4th, have teamed up to attempt to give the area's federal employees a shorter drive to work.

Mr. McMillen introduced a bill last month that would create five "telecommuting centers" in Maryland and Virginia where federal employees with long commutes can spend part or all of their work weeks. Mr. Hoyer, who sits on an appropriations subcommittee, put a $5 million provision for the centers into a funding bill last week.

If Mr. McMillen's bill fails but the funding bill passes, the program still will go into effect.

COLA Protection:

Representative Mary Rose Oakar, D-Ohio, a long-time supporter of federal employees, introduced legislation last week intended to ensure full cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for federal retirees in fiscal year 1993.

The bill doesn't do anything new; it merely states that COLAS already on the books should stay on the books.

As the budget debate continues to rage in Washington, virtually any federal expenditure is fair game, and federal worker advocates fear that retiree COLAs may be targeted.

"There is a tendency to forget these people [federal workers]," said an Oakar aide who did not want to be identified.

The point was driven home when Congress recently voted to exempt Social Security COLAs from cuts, but did not extend the same benefit to federal retirees, many of whom receive pensions TC but not Social Security benefits.

The Oakar bill would exempt all federal annuitants, including military, railroad and civil service retirees, from COLA cuts.

Satisfied executives:

Most federal government executives are more satisfied with their jobs than they were two years ago, but they have "serious reservations" about the political appointees they work with.

A new General Accounting Office study found that workers' attitudes had changed significantly since an identical study in 1989. The number of career senior executives who said they were satisfied with their salaries jumped from 11 percent in 1989 to 78 percent in 1991. A law mandating incremental pay raises took effect in 1990.

But the study's main purpose was to examine the relationship between federal executives and political appointees, whose numbers have increased during the past 30 years while the number of federal executives remained constant.

Other 1991 findings:

* 93 percent of career executives saw their jobs as "opportunities to make positive, long-term government improvements;" 53 percent of appointees agreed.

* 93 percent of career executives said they believed career executives make grant, contract and loan decisions "solely on the basis of merit;" 55 percent of appointees agreed.

"This GAO report clearly shows that while we have made improvement there is still clearly a rift between the two groups," said Rep. Gerry Sikorski, D-Minn., who chairs the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee's subcommittee on civil service.

* 90 percent of career executives and 96 percent of non-career executives said they were satisfied with their duties.

* 64 percent of career executives and 60 percent of non-career said their retirement benefits were sufficient.

* 78 percent of career executives and 39 percent of non-career were satisfied with job security.

* 11 percent of career executives and 36 percent of non-career executives said they were satisfied with the public's image of the government.

About 1,160 senior executives responded to the 1991 survey; 938 responded in 1989.

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