As of today, the House has passed nine of the 12 annual appropriations bills. The legislation to fund the IRS is now pending action in the Senate though there is little hope the bill will pass in its current form. Overall, the legislation provides a modest increase for the IRS and we hope to see that level of investment maintained. The Senate won't be in session for August so the September 30th deadline will likely come and go with a continuing resolution. Unfortunately the Congress will also need to work out an agreement on the debt ceiling at the same time - they had previously suspended the ceiling through July 31st and Secretary Yellen advised Congress to act in September or we may default on our debts. At this time, PMA does not anticipate a government shutdown but a series of last minute CRs to carry us into 2022. A 2.7% pay raise is still likely for Federal workers in 2022. Former Commissioner Charles Rossotti is calling for robust investment in the IRS workforce and we will continue to press for similar investments, both in infrastructure as well as human capital.
Today, OPM issued a series of FAQ documents to help agencies implement new vaccination and testing requirements for the workforce. The CDC is recommending masking for all workers regardless of vaccination status in areas with high levels of transmission and the recent order requires Federal workers to mask up in these areas. For unvaccinated workers, masks are required in all Federal spaces and those workers must have regular COVID tests to enter the workplace. Refusal to comply with testing mandates will lead to disciplinary action. Asserting your vaccination status is based upon the honor system. Lying about your vaccination status will lead to discipline (up to and including termination) and possible criminal charges, with imprisonment a possibility. For its part, the IRS has a Transmission Level Report to help you determine when to where a mask.
Be sure to monitor PMA's blog for professional development opportunities. Join us on August 19th from 12-12:45PM Eastern for a presentation on the internal and external aspects of change and how you can lead your team through it.
The Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (CDP) opens to applicants on Monday, August 9th. Read more on the IRS Source about this opportunity.
Nationwide, more and more people are choosing Medicare Advantage plans over traditional Medicare. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2021, 42% of all Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, up from 24% a decade earlier. Within the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a growing number of plans offer a Medicare Advantage option. Federal benefits expert Tammy Flanagan helps you to make sense of these options.
FEEA's Executive Director and Dr. Lane Neidig talked about how you and your family can keep your skin healthy this summer and year round. You can watch a short video FEEA produced as part of their work supporting the Federal community.
While telework is the future of government work, and certainly is our reality during this ongoing pandemic, it does pose some problems. We are happy to share a concise overview from our friends at FMA which discusses how antiquated rules about locality pay haven't kept up with our modern workplace. Att eh same time, having so many Feds working from home poses a number of cybersecurity challenges and vulnerabilities.