We continue to monitor negotiations for our budget. The situation is very fluid and discussions are happening as we write this message. Today, the Congress is working to wrap up negotiations for long-term funding. PMA anticipates that the Congress will need to work through the weekend to bridge their remaining disagreements.
At this time, it appears unlikely that both chambers will be able to pass funding bills before midnight. To do so would require unanimous consent in the Senate, and Senate leaders do not feel there is support for that. There is still a possibility, but this is the least likely outcome. More realistically, the Congress will have this work completed after the weekend. Some are working on a two-day CR to buy time but we are not seeing sufficient support on the Hill for that tactic. Again, this is possible but appears out of reach this morning. The third outcome is a lapse in appropriations at midnight. We believe the impact would be limited and that the Congress would have bills passed by Monday. The lapse would last for only a few days. As each hour passes, this scenario is more and more likely. To be sure, a lapse of any duration is detrimental to our government, our taxpayers, and our IRS family.
One funding bill did go to the president - the defense spending bill, or NDAA. The Congress passed the NDAA last week and it remains on the president’s desk. Our friends on the Hill believe there is sufficient support for a veto-override should the bill be vetoed. However, that override vote would need to occur before the next Congress begins on January 3rd. There is also a chance that the bill becomes law through presidential inaction - after 10 days, so long as Congress has not adjourned, the bill is deemed signed. If they adjourn, then the bill does not become law (a pocket veto).
Should a lapse occur tonight, please be sure to monitor our website for updates.
Yesterday, OPM proposed a rule change to how RIFs are handled. Currently, when a RIF is planned, the agency must consider tenure (permanent, seasonal, temp, etc.), veteran preference, years of service, and performance - in that order. The new rule would change this to tenure, performance, veteran preference, and years of service. On its face, this would mean that performance is favored over seniority. In practice, it means that seniority would serve as a tiebreaker of sorts. If two similarly situated employees were subject to RIF and had the same three-year performance rating average, then the senior employee would be retained.
While we generally support policies that favor high performance, we do have concerns about this rule. OPM has not studied disparities in performance ratings and we are not confident that the current systems employed by the IRS result in accurate performance measurement. Those of us on 12450 performance plans tend to have very thin EPFs. We don’t receive regular performance feedback and reviews - instead the system relies heavily on our next-level manager’s writing skills. That lack of documentation makes it difficult to grieve your rating. It’s also a highly subjective system filled with misunderstanding. Think of how many times your rating decreased without an explanation or with an explanation that wasn’t tied to your performance. We seek acknowledgment that overall ratings between BU and NBU are not analogous - in other words, a BU employee receives an Outstanding for “consistently” performing in their CJEs while a manager would receive, at most, an Exceeds for consistent performance.
There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. Our voice is becoming louder and our leaders are listening. 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 strengthen our existing relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout 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.
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.
To ring in the new year, our partner Eargo will host a presentation for our members and anyone hoping to learn more about PMA and Eargo's support of the Civil Service. We will share more details soon but please set aside January 14 from 1-2PM Eastern to learn about Eargo's offerings - no cost hearing aids for FEHB participants. Learn more here.
Our friends at FEEA will join us on January 27 from 2-3PM Eastern to discuss the many ways FEEA works to keep #FedsHelpingFeds. Please plan to attend to learn more about their grant and loan programs, tutoring services, and much more.
PMA’s National Board is looking for members throughout the country who are willing to consider serving as chapter president. 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 gets underway starting on Monday! 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.
Please be sure to check out this year's CFC annual drive! From their site, you can find a CFC-approved charity and learn more about the campaign. If you'd like to support your fellow Federal workers, please consider supporting our official charity, the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA), CFC #11185. FEEA works hard to offer financial assistance, childcare, tutoring services, and so much more for Feds. They are the only charity expressly dedicated to supporting the Civil Service. You have until January 15th to sign up! Don't forget that the CARES Act provides a new charitable contributions deduction for people who don't itemize - most taxpayers can take up to $300 over and above their standard deduction.
What a difficult year this has been for us, our community, and our world. The end of each year causes most of us to look back, reflecting on our joys, our losses, our successes, and our missteps. For many, 2020 can't be over soon enough but we would be remiss if we didn't honor the incredible work you've done to keep our agency and nation functioning. We are so grateful for your dedication, commitment, and support. We also want to acknowledge that making it through this year is itself an amazing accomplishment. It's easy to look back on all the hours stuck at home and wish they'd been more productive but that's unfair. Navigating the stress, the monotony, the disappointment, and for many the depression that came our way this year was very difficult, at times impossible. Many of us had to lead a team from home while also serving as a caregiver, school teacher, and daycare provider. Please be sure to give yourself credit for finding a path through 2020 - your resilience is what we are celebrating this year!