Weekly Updates

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) & Other Updates

March 19, 2021
PMA Updates

This week, PMA met with OPM and OMB to discuss COVID response across the federal government. We are grateful to those agencies for including managers in these discussions so that our concerns can be addressed along with any concerns expressed by federal employee unions. We met with FEW's president, the Honorable Karen Rainey to find ways we can support each other and enhance equity within the IRS. PMA and FEW will work together to shape the administration's workforce policies around accessibility, equity, diversity, and inclusion. That conversation will continue this month as we engage our friends with OPM's EDI team. We also had our FEEA board meeting this week. PMA was elevated to FEEA Board Treasurer and we look forward to supporting our official charity as a demonstration of our gratitude for their work helping many in the IRS. Be sure to check out their annual report, attached to this message, to learn more about FEEA.

Want to get moving this spring? Join the Feds in Motion 35 Challenge

PMA's official charity, the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA) is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The Feds In Motion 35 Challenge kicks off Public Service Recognition Week and is all about moving in your favorite way — walk, run, bike, swim, or roll on your favorite route — to reach the goal of 35 miles (or more!) in 35 days.

Proceeds benefit FEEA’s scholarship, disaster relief, and emergency hardship programs for feds in need. Click here to register and join PMA's team and/or donate to help us meet our goal! Team members can get great swag and prizes, as well as Wellness Wednesday workshops to help meet the challenge. The Challenge Dates are May 2-June 5, 2021.

Help Americans Impacted by Disasters

The IRS is recruiting for a ready pool of employee volunteers to deploy in times of need. The disaster volunteer announcement opened on March 15, 2021.

Eligible employees may be offered deployments/details to fill supporting roles on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Surge Capacity Force (SCF), FEMA or the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA). This a voluntary program for federal employees to potentially deploy to support federal disaster response and recovery activities alongside FEMA and SBA.

For details about the DHS FEMA SCF, FEMA (non-SCF) and SBA ODA volunteer opportunities, see the announcement and the FAQs.

PMA Scholarship Deadline Less Than One Week Away

For the 2021-22 academic year, PMA continues to offer ten $2,000 scholarships through our official charity, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. As a further benefit, FEEA's common application makes it easy to compete for more than 200 awards valued between $1,000 and $7,500. Be sure to apply no later than March 25th at 3PM Eastern (there are no extensions available to this deadline for any reason so please don't wait for the last minute!). Not a PMA member? Use the attached form to sign up today!

News From Washington

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law last week. In addition to a round of Economic Impact Payments and direct child-based payments later this year, the law includes provisions for Federal workers and we've started to receive questions about them.

First, the law includes a provision that grants federal employees, including those in the U.S. Postal Service, up to 15 weeks, or 600 hours, of paid sick leave—capped at $1,400 per week—if they are suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus, if they are caring for a family member who has COVID-19, if they are getting vaccinated or experiencing symptoms related to the vaccine, or if they are caring for a child whose school or child care center is closed or engaging in virtual learning due to the pandemic. This leave is available for use through September 30, 2021.

The other provision codifies the federal government’s policy that states that agencies will presume that frontline federal employees who test positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus during the course of their official duties for the purposes of workers’ compensation claims. The DOL administratively updated its rules regarding COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claims for federal employees to reflect this last May. The so-called “presumption of workplace causation” makes it much easier for workers to receive benefits under FECA.

PMA will keep you updated on these items and you can read more here. Because the law was signed just a week ago, it will take some time for OPM and OMB to develop interim guidance for implementation. Once developed, the IRS works with Treasury to determine how it will work inside of our agency. PMA will continue to press for a rapid response because we know how important these flexibilities are for you and your staff. More news will be forthcoming.

President Biden signed an executive order on expanding Americans’ access to voting in elections, which could expand the availability of time off for feds to exercise their right to vote and volunteer to help administer elections. The order instructs OPM to expand the federal government’s policy to grant federal workers time off to vote in elections at all levels of government, specifically to “include efforts to ensure federal employees have opportunities to participate in early voting.” The new order also instructs agencies to find new strategies to “better support” feds who want to volunteer to work on elections in nonpartisan positions like manning polling stations or serving as election observers. OPM has until September 23rd to develop a framework to move forward.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled in Santos v. NASA that agencies must prove an employee's performance was unacceptable prior to being put on a PIP. This is a landmark decision and increases the burden on managers to document employee performance carefully. Prior to this decision, agencies needed to offer an improvement period (the PIP) and then show the employee was unsuccessful during the PIP before moving to terminate. Never before did an agency need to also prove that the PIP was justified due to poor performance. Read more

Free Professional Development Opportunities

The IRS is offering sessions on how to combat COVID-19-related stress on March 23 and March 24. Read more

Through a new partnership with the White House Leadership Development Program, PMA invites you to “The Invitation,”  a series of 90-minute events that invite Feds to think through how they too can be impactful leaders and play a part in good government. On March 30th from 10:30A-12P Eastern, we will discuss Creating Workforce Flexibility for Achieving Operational Resiliency. Register here to attend - you'll receive a Zoom link via email which you'll need to save in order to access the discussion.

You can attend a four-week, self-directed course through Harvard University's Kennedy School on the foundational principles of exercising leadership. In this introductory course, you will explore strategies for leading in a changing world where adaptive pressures will continue to challenge all of us. You will discover new ways to approach complex organizational systems and take thoughtful action on the work we all face ahead. Most importantly, you will reflect on how to move forward on the leadership challenges you care about most.The course should take about 2-3 hours per week to complete. Click here to sign up and get started. This opportunity is available to everyone and might be a good addition to your and your teams' career learning plans.

News at the IRS

PMA and FMA are working with HCO to put together recommendations to improve incentives for our high performing managers at the top of their paybands. In our pay-for-performance system, there's a hiccup that occurs for managers in those situations which can lead to dissatisfaction and sap morale. We are grateful to HCO for seeing how these issues negatively impact leadership retention and recruitment, and how we fail to adequately recognize managers once they reach that point in their career. This is the second time we are participating in a study about manager compensation since 2018 and, while there's much to improve, we remain grateful that HCO is thinking about this proactively.

The IRS is seeking weekly input from you and your team through April 5th. Please complete the Climate Pulse Survey weekly to help the IRS respond to issues as they arise.

Help Others Become A PMA Member

There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. Through our consultative relationship with IRS HQ, we’ve worked to resolve questions, concerns, and inconsistencies around performance pay, leave administration, professional liability, retirement, safety, and leadership succession to name only a few. We are working diligently to deepen our relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout the center of government and with our sponsors so that we can grow our impact. We do all of this and more for a mere $3.50 per pay period – an incredible value. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form - please forward this newsletter to one person in your network who might benefit from our advocacy and information. If you know a retiree who would benefit from our advocacy, we offer lifetime memberships to them for a one-time $100 payment. Membership also comes with many additional benefits such as discounted rates from our sponsors GEICO and FEDS Protection. PMA members participating in a FEHB plan may be able to get free, state-of-the-art hearing aids through our partner Eargo. Just mention PMA and they will waive your copay for most health plans. This benefit is available to anyone in your family using your FEHB plan!

Don't forget to follow PMA on social media! You can forward this email to your personal address to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are working to better leverage these tools so we can keep in touch with each of you. Soon we will debut our Instagram and LinkedIn pages as we continue to work on refreshing our virtual toolkit.

Would you like to lead a PMA Local Chapter?

PMA’s National Board is looking for members throughout the country who are willing to consider serving as chapter president. If you're in Colorado or Georgia, please reach out today! We’re also always happy to hear from members who’d like to found a local chapter in their area. Local chapters are active around the country and work with local executives, FEBs, and GLCs to promote the interests of management. Chapter presidents also attend national calls quarterly with the National Board as members of our Association Leadership Committee. The Committee will participate in PMA's modernization project, which is already underway. The time commitment is minimal and it’s a great way to improve conditions in your office. If you or someone you know is interested, please reply to our newsletter and we will connect you with resources to get started.

Weekly updates