Weekly Updates

Ramadan Mubarak, Vaccine Mandate Reinstated, the President's Budget, and More

April 8, 2022
A Blessed Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak to our members observing this month (April 2-May 2). For our non-observing members, Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Observing Muslims (24% of the global population) abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking every day until sunset.

You can support your observing colleagues and employees by considering:
• Employees may request to switch shifts or work more flexibly, especially if they work an afternoon shift.
• If possible, avoid scheduling afternoon meetings, whether face-to-face or online, as their energy levels, productivity, and concentration may decrease as the day progresses.
• Be aware of holiday requests for the end of Ramadan to celebrate Eid.
• When sunset occurs during an employee's shift, offer a break at this time long enough for them to pray, eat and drink—a five-minute break would not suffice.

As an observer, you should ensure that your colleagues are aware of the changes that will occur during Ramadan to the extent they will be affected.

If you're looking to celebrate Ramadan with the federal community at-large and supporters, join the Muslim Federal Employee Association (Mosaic) on Saturday, April 23, 2022, for their 8th Annual Ramadan virtual event.

Appeals Court Reinstates Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers

Yesterday, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said in a 2-1 opinion that the plaintiffs who brought their suit over President Biden’s executive order did not have standing in the federal circuit and, instead, must pursue their claims before the MSPB or OSC. The court vacated the injunction and instructed the district court in Texas that issued it to dismiss the case upon remand.

We are awaiting further guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce on what the IRS's appropriate next steps will be. It is our presumption that we should expect enforcement of the vaccine mandate to resume, unless there is another legal development. It's never too late to begin your vaccine series - to find a vaccine appointment near you, visit www.vaccines.gov or www.vacunas.gov.

President's FY23 Budget Proposal

Last week, President Biden released his FY23 budget proposal which includes the largest pay increase for federal employees in more than 20 years. The proposed average 4.6% pay raise for federal employees is a good start but Congress can set a different figure and PMA endorses the 5.1% average increase called for in the FAIR Act (H.R. 6398 and S. 3518).

The proposal also includes an 18% increase for the IRS to $14.1 billion. Accounting for inflation, this is still more than $2 billion under the agency's FY 2011 budget. While PMA finds much to celebrate in this request, we continue to call on Congress to do more because this level of funding does not adequately address the agency's urgent modernization needs.

PMA Updates

First, we want to thank Commissioner Rettig for meeting with us last week. This was PMA's first meeting with the IRS Commissioner in a number of years and we were glad to have the opportunity to discuss ways we can work more closely together. We were joined by the Deputy Commissioners, the Chief Human Capital Officer, and the acting Chief of Staff. Together, we discussed PMA's new consultative agreement with the agency and how we can help the IRS make the most of PMA as a resource in its decision making. We are also looking for ways we can align in our advocacy, particularly as we work to bring resources to the agency so our members can do their jobs effectively. It was great discussion and Commissioner Rettig was very generous with his time. We look forward to speaking again soon.

This week, we've been busy working with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform as they marked up the Honoring Civilians Killed in the Line of Duty and the Chance to Compete Act. PMA has endorsed both bills and submitted written comments to encourage lawmakers to move these bills out of committee expeditiously. We also submitted written comments to House Ways and Means to promote our view on how we can advance economic opportunity with a well-funded IRS. We are currently working on our written testimony for the Senate Finance Committee following Commissioner Rettig's appearance yesterday. We aim to continue stressing for the SFC how congressional inaction and underresourcing leads to inadequate outcomes for their constituents. Our members are working tirelessly to deliver this filing season and we need their support.


The Individual and Business Master Files (IMF, BMF) celebrate their 60th birthday this year! PMA wants to help Congress and the American public appreciate how badly the IRS needs modernization funding. Part of our IMF/BMF@60 campaign will feature facts and context to help frame the true age of our primary computing database. As a reminder, the IRS still relies on the oldest continually operating database in the entire federal government.

In June 1962, after the IMF and BMF completed their first full filing season, the iconic Marvel superhero Spider-Man made his first appearance in the Amazing Fantasy #15 comic. The issue was dated for August but had actually hit the shelves in June. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man was a teenage superhero whose nerdy alter-ego Peter Parker represented adolescent concerns and teenage tribulations in a way that no other comic book superhero had been able to previously. Many teen readers connected to the character making him one of the most popular and enduring comic series characters in history. While we've continued to rely on the IMF and BMF, Spider-Man has appeared in more than 30 films and television series, three stage productions, and became the highest grossing comic book character in the world.

Betsy, We Salute You

Last week, our dear friend Betsy Fallacaro retired. Betsy was a longtime member of our National Board of Directors and previously served as PMA's National President. Betsy was recognized with a Commissioner's Award for her work on the IRS Paybanding Modernization Team where she represented PMA's members. We are so grateful for your leadership and commitment to our association.

The vacancy left by Betsy's departure will be filled in our upcoming National Board election next month. If you'd like to help us make the IRS a better place to work, please consider running. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about board service or if you're interested in observing our next meeting.

Secure Telework Agreements by May 8th

As we continue to move closer toward the phased return-to-office, managers should keep in mind that anyone wishing to continue to telework for any duration of time must have a signed telework agreement in place and complete online telework training by May 8th. Those who have not done one or both of those things will not be in compliance with the Telework Enhancement Act and, as a result, will be required to return to the office every day beginning on May 8th. It is very important that you ensure you and your team complete these steps before the deadline.

OPM Announces Parental Bereavement Leave

On December 27th, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act for FY22 which contained a new leave entitlement - two weeks of paid parental bereavement leave in connection with the death of an employee’s qualifying child. The benefit uses the same definition for "child" as we currently use for FMLA though this leave is not related to FMLA hours and should not be conflated with that separate entitlement. The leave is limited to two weeks in a 12-month period and that period begins with the date a child passes.

AMA's Ask the Experts Virtual Management Series

Join PMA's partner, the American Management Association, for a complimentary series offered from 12-12:30PM Eastern. If the day or time doesn't work for you, register anyhow - you can view a recording of the webcast afterward at your convenience.
Creating a Virtual Motivational Climate on April 26th
Virtual Delegation on May 17th
Coaching in a Virtual Environment on June 7th
Communicating Effectively in a Virtual Environment on June 28th
Best Practices of Managing a Virtual Workforce on July 19th

Join PMA in Celebrating FEEA's 36th Birthday

PMA's official charity, the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund (FEEA) is celebrating its 36th anniversary. The Feds In Motion Challenge is all about moving in your favorite way — walk, run, bike, swim, or roll on your favorite route — to reach the goal of 36 miles (or more!) in 36 days. Click here to register for the celebration. If you have coworkers or friends who haven't registered yet, please share far and wide. All are welcome on #TeamPMA and thank you to all who've joined the team so far!

Challenge registrants will receive t-shirts, participation medals, digital bibs, an easy tool to upload your mileage anytime to the leaderboard, digital finisher certificates, fun digital badges for mileage milestones and fundraising achievements, special Wellness Wednesday events with prize drawings, other cool swag from FEEA's sponsors, and prizes for top fundraisers. Be sure to sign up today!

We are also using this as an opportunity to raise some money for FEEA to help Feds in need. Consider making a tax deductible donation.

MSPB Creates New Hatch Act Precedent

The Hatch Act has long been understood to bar federal workers from holding partisan political office. A new MSPB ruling found that a federal employee can concurrently hold a partisan political office and their federal job, and concurred with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that the Act bars only running for partisan political office - not holding one.

In the specific case, Rodney Cowen, a USPS worker in Tennessee, ran in a partisan election to be a county commissioner and he won his election. Cowan conceded he violated that provision when he sought the county commissioner seat, and therefore agreed in his settlement to take a six-month unpaid suspension from USPS. Under the statute, MSPB had to sign off on the settlement and an administrative judge ruled that the settlement was invalid. OSC appealed to the MSPB and raised the argument that, when Congress modernized Hatch in 2012, it was no longer a firing offense to hold a partisan political office.

The central board agreed to hear the appeal, noting it has not weighed in on the matter since Congress passed its modernization bill. The board’s two members, Tristan Leavitt and Raymond Limon, said the Hatch Act previously required violators to be fired from their federal job. Alternatively, the employees could forgo their elected office as a “mitigating factor” in their punishment.

Under the new law, however, removal is no longer the “presumptive penalty” for Hatch Act violations. The board said it favors settlements as a general matter and the suspension served as an adequate punishment for Cowan’s running for office. It ordered USPS to carry out the disciplinary action and agreed Cowan did not have to surrender either position. Under the new precedent, federal employees could opt to violate the Hatch Act and run for office knowing they could keep both positions in exchange for a suspension.

“We find nothing in the statute that requires an employee to relinquish the elected position before the board may impose an authorized penalty less than removal,” they wrote in their decision.

PMA's Heartland Chapter Shout-Out

We'd like to recognize our Missouri chapter and local president Sherryee Akinmoladun (SLA) for working with the Kansas City Service Center to host a toiletry drive for local families in need. PMA donated hundreds of pounds of toiletries to the Grandview Assistance Program and the Kansas City Public Schools Office of Students in Transition. We are incredibly proud of our Heartland members and the great work you're doing in your community! Thank you for all you do!

Weekly updates