Weekly Updates

Honoring Patriot Day & Other Updates

September 11, 2020
PMA’s National Board remembers the lives we lost on September 11, 2001. Today, we observe Patriot Day and all it represents – those we’ve lost, those we love who continue to recover from their injuries, our resilience, and the strength of our American spirit. We’re reminded of Sandy Dahl’s words, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.” Ms. Dahl had lost her husband, Jason, who was a pilot on Flight 93. Let’s remember 9/11 today and seek the unity that followed in its immediate aftermath.
Weather & Safety Leave Is Considered ‘On Duty’

For those of you with teams on W&S leave, please keep in mind that the leave’s purpose is to substitute hours of work. This is why it is inappropriate to go grocery shopping, see your doctor, visit friends, or spend a day at the beach while charging W&S leave. We should use annual and sick leave as we normally would for those activities during the workday. The PMA National Board recognizes this is difficult, if not impossible, to enforce and that the result is many people treat W&S leave as though it was analogous to annual, sick, and other types of leave where we are considered ‘off duty.’ This misunderstanding can lead to very, very bad outcomes. We want you to be careful, especially with regard to the Hatch Act.

At PMA’s request, GLS prepared this article to explain how W&S leave and Hatch interact. Employees receiving W&S leave are subject to the Hatch Act’s on-duty restrictions during all hours when they’re receiving W&S leave, excluding their regular lunch break. That means it is a violation of law to, for example, share a partisan political post on social media while home on W&S leave if that post is shared at a time of day when the employee would be working. The article also include helpful reminders for those of us teleworking as well as for when we’re attending video conferences.

Social Security Withholding Deferral for Certain Employees

There are still more questions than answers regarding this program. PMA continues to work with our partners in the House and Senate to press OMB for answers. Please think of this as a loan that will have to be repaid in January. We continue to await the repayment terms and will continue to press for flexibilities – especially for those of us at IRS as we’re held to a higher standard for tax compliance. We know that the deferral is in place for PP18 so the next tranche of paychecks will be impacted. Eligible employees will see the 6.2% Social Security withholding deferred through 12/31.

Those of you who separate or retire between August 30, 2020, and January 2, 2021, will have to repay the deferred tax. Please be sure to include this in your retirement planning.

We want you and your teams to be prepared. The Presidential memorandum directs the Treasury to press for legislation to waive collection of the tax but it is apparent in our discussions with the Congress that there is no substantive support for any such legislation. The IRS announced last week that employees will not have a choice and we will participate in the program. We also understand that FERS employees (and a limited group of CSRS) whose gross pay is under $4,000 per pay period (i.e., $104,000 annually) will see the deferral. We strongly advise you to save the increase in your pay to the extent feasible for you and your family. NFC offers the option to have your pay split and deposited into several accounts. You might want to do that so you can draw on the savings in 2021 when the withholding resumes at a higher rate to recapture the uncollected tax.

Would you like to lead a PMA Local Chapter?

PMA’s National Board is looking for members in Colorado, Georgia, and Ohio 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. 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.

Become A Member

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 – the best bargain I’ve seen in my career. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form. 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 benefits such as discounted rates from our sponsors GEICO and FEDS Protection.

No-Cost Professional Development Opportunities

On September 15, the IRS Employee Assistance & Work-Life Program will present ‘How to Talk to Children of Various Ages About the Pandemic.’ You can attend a session via conference call at either 12PM or 5PM Eastern. 720-740-9658 and the access code is 2178785.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers is hosting a free, virtual summit September 15-22 called Leadership for a Changing World. The fact is that our world is changing – fast. We need to go deeper in our leadership skillset to navigate this moment. The summit features bestselling authors and leadership innovators such as Margie & Ken Blanchard, the world’s foremost experts on Servant Leadership, Peter Block, founder of the stewardship movement, and Mary-Frances Winters, leading authority in anti-racist leadership. The series is very exciting and I look forward to sharpening my skills! To learn more and register, please click here.

The IRS is hosting HRConnect training for managers and proxies on September 23. The focus is the PAR approval process and other current issues within the program. The SABA sessions can be accessed from your work computer and will not be recorded. Read more

Need help writing your ECQs? Are you a GS-14, GS-15, IR-01, IR-03, or IR-04 employee? Join the Office of Executive Services on September 23 for a writing webinar. Read more

The Partnership for Public Service’s annual Customer Experience Summit will be held virtually on October 6th from 9-10:30AM Eastern. This year, IRS’s very own Jim Clifford is one of the panelists! Jim leads the Taxpayer First Act Office’s Customer Service Strategy as well as our Customer Experience/Service Delivery Modernization Team. The panel will discuss why customer experience is a top priority for their organizations, and the strategies they are using to understand and meet customer needs during the pandemic. Register here.

On October 8 from 1-2PM Eastern, the Engagement office will host Darrell White, Director of IT Enterprise Program Management Office, CADE and DevOps Practice. Darrell will present 4 Pillars of Success – Showcasing Leadership in Actions (Part 1). Read more

FEEA Has Masks For Frontline Feds

We still have face coverings available through FEEA. They’re offering to send a cloth face covering to anyone who must return to work in a space with other employees and/or the public. Register here to receive a complimentary face covering. If you would like to place a bulk order of those masks for your team or department, please let me know. Thank you to those managers who’ve reached out to me for bulk orders for their teams!

HCO Updates

Congratulations to Kevin McIver, Deputy Human Capital Officer! Kevin was selected to serve as IRS Chief of Staff. PMA has worked closely with Kevin for years and he’s been a strong advocate for our association. Kevin’s been leading the agency’s COVID-19 response and, even while doing that, has remained merely a phone call or text message away from PMA’s National Board. We are so excited to see Kevin advance in the organization and look forward to supporting him in any way we can. PMA continues to deepen its relationships within HCO and IRS HQ and, while Kevin leaves behind a pair of big shoes to fill, we trust that the next Deputy will work with us closely as we advance the non-bargaining unit’s agenda. Thank you, Kevin, for your patience, dedication, and empathy over the years and especially now during this emergency.

This week, HCO put out an interacting decision matrix to help each of us understand how to return to work after a possible COVID exposure. Please review the matrix here and let your teams know that it is available.

The 2020 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) and Supplemental Survey for seasonal employees will begin Tuesday, September 15, 2020 and close on October 27, 2020. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will email invitations to employees to take the survey during the week of September 15th. Please convey your support for the FEVS and encourage employees to take the survey.

Please encourage your teams to take a moment to complete the Climate Pulse Survey each week here: Link to Survey. In the most recent data, we learned that employees are very anxious about the continued state of teleworking during the pandemic. Per the Commissioner’s message, we will remain home for the foreseeable future. We are very fortunate at IRS to be led by many telework-friendly executives! If you’re heading to the office, please be sure to wear an appropriate face covering. As a reminder, face coverings with a exhalation valve or those with a hole for using a straw are unacceptable as they fail to adequately protect those around you.

HCO invites you to attend one of six workshops to learn what actions you’ll need to take in case of a government shutdown resulting from a lapse in appropriations. Six sessions are scheduled for September 21-23, read more.

News From Washington

House leaders reached an agreement with Secretary Mnuchin proposing a continuing resolution free from controversial amendments. While nothing is finalized, our contacts on the Hill are optimistic that the CR will become law in time to avoid a shutdown in October. PMA will continue its advocacy to ensure a stable appropriation is made for the fiscal year and that it includes an equitable pay increase for civilians.

OMB issued a memorandum (M-20-34) on training in the Federal government. The memo directs agencies to cancel and/or divert funds from anti-racism training at a time when our nation’s people yearn for open, honest conversations about race. We disagree wholeheartedly with the memo because it misrepresents anti-racism training, is not based in fact, and ignores the latest developments in leadership. We feel that managers should especially have an opportunity to participate in such training so that we can speak to our teams about these issues from a place of knowledge and confidence. We also feel that the agency should be allowed to make its own choices regarding training needs as it has for years. We will work with our partners on the Hill and in the media to press for modern, current, and relevant leadership training.

PMA is working to pressure OPM to authorize an Emergency Leave Transfer Program (ELTP) for the COVID-19 pandemic. ELTPs have been authorized in the past for disasters, most recently for Hurricane Dorian. Such an authorization would allow the IRS to open the ELTP for those of us impacted by the pandemic and would allow those of us who’ve accumulated high leave balances to transfer them in part to those of us with caregiving responsibilities that are cutting deeply into our leave balances. We believe this makes sense for a number of reasons and is a logical extension of the current administration’s posture that COVID-19 is a disaster sufficient to justify use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) as well as the Stafford Act, which funds FEMA relief. We are working today to rally support among all the other professional associations, employee groups, and federal employee unions in an effort to broaden our impact. Activation of the ELTP will help parents balance work with their children’s e-learning and so much more.

Weekly updates