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Analysts conclude that federal agencies need to do more to manage employees

Employees need training and advancement opportunities in order to be productive and satisfied with their jobs, but a recent survey of federal employees suggests that federal agencies are failing to manage employees in such a way as to promote career development and effectively utilize their talents.

The survey data were collected and analyzed by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte, and the analysts came to the following conclusions:

  • Less than one-third of federal employees are satisfied with career advancement opportunities within their organization.
  • Less than 40 percent think their agencies' recruiting methods result in finding the right talent.
  • Less than 50 percent said they were satisfied with available training opportunities.
  • Only about 50 percent think their skills are being effectively utilized by management.
  • Roughly 40 percent were satisfied with recognition in the workplace.

Fed employees: Beware fed-state law conflict on marijuana

As many readers are likely aware, the state of Texas recently joined the ranks of several other states allowing the use of medical marijuana. The law is limited in its application but, as was widely reported back in May, the governor did sign the bill. It only is available for Texans with a certain type of epilepsy, and the marijuana product that is prescribed has to be very low in the psychoactive chemical usually found in cannabis.

It should be noted that the law does not do anything to open the door to the recreational use of marijuana. That is something that has happened in only a few states and the District of Columbia so far. And at about the same time as the Texas bill was signed into law, the Office of Personnel Management reaffirmed its position that federal employees should not use it.

Should OSHA nurse injury probe expand to include illnesses?

The nursing professionals who deliver care in the hospitals of Texas and the rest of the country could probably be counted among the greatest of unsung heroes. And those in federally run hospital systems, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs operation, rank right up there with the rest.

There are times when the scan of public attention seems to force long-overdue action. For example, we posted last month about how a National Public Radio review of the high rate of work-related injuries among nurses has prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to launch a nation-wide investigation. The objective, says OSHA, is to reduce debilitating nurse injuries caused by lifting and moving patients by hand by promoting wider adoption of lifting assistance machines.

Administration reaffirms protections for LGBT workers, applicants

Congress has not acted to explicitly outlaw discrimination against federal workers or applicants on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identification. Texas readers of this blog may recall that is something the Merit Systems Protection Board has recommended.

As we posted back in May of last year, MSPB officials indicated at the time that such a change would take the matter out of the realm of an interpretation of existing anti-discrimination law by federal agencies and remove any ambiguity about the issue that might exist in the federal workplace.

Updated numbers on OPM data breach reinforces need for diligence

If you thought the data breach at the Office of Personnel Management was bad before, you haven't seen anything yet. When we posted about that debacle back in June, our main intention was to try to highlight that federal employees in Texas and elsewhere owe it to themselves to keep a close eye on their financial accounts.

The point we sought to make at that time was that the breach, purportedly brought about by a hack job by the Chinese, put the personal information of some 4 million current and former federal employees at risk.

OSHA to inspect hospitals to prevent nursing injuries

When most people think of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), they are likely to think of industrial accidents involving machinery or factory equipment. And that certainly does encompass a great deal of their investigations and enforcement actions.

But after a recent NPR story on the topic of the injuries suffered by nurses in hospitals, the director of the agency has announced that OSHA will begin inspections of hospitals and fining violations of work safety rules.

Who watches the watchdogs?

With any system of management, there is always a concern with who is supervising the supervisor. You can create the "fairest" system in the world to manage your employees, but if those responsible for the overall operation of the system are corrupt, then it is all for naught.

Many of the problems that have come to light from the Veterans Affairs hospital scheduling scandal appear to stem from poor upper level management. Those responsible for the proper operation of the hospitals appear to have made very poor decisions regarding care and medical treatment of veterans.

Simple is easier than complex

The Veterans Affairs hospital scheduling scandal has led to political ramifications that continue to move through Congress. Last year, in an effort to look like they were doing something about the crisis, Congress enacted legislation that allowed for the quick firing of senior executives within the VA.

This law virtually eliminated the due process rights of those executives, including leaving the Merit Systems Protection Board, the agency that is supposed to review these types of adverse actions against federal employees, with almost no time to review what could be very complex appeals.

Federal employees have their own workers' comp program

For any worker, the prospect of being injured on the job is unpleasant. Aside from the obvious issues of pain and long-term discomfort from the injury, there is the unhappy prospect of being out of work for however long it takes to recover. And that means lowered income because of lost time, in addition to increased expenses related to your medical care and recovery.

In most states, there are state-run workers' compensation insurance programs that provide help to injured workers. Texas does not require private employers to provide workers' compensation insurance, but injured federal employees in Texas are covered by the federal program.

Should the OPM director resign?

The fallout from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data hack continues, as a contentious congressional hearing led to calls for the resignation of the OPM's leader. Members of a house committee attacked the OPM chief, claiming she is responsible for the data security failures that appear to have led to the hacking of OPM systems by what are presumed to be Chinese hackers.

But perhaps we need to step back and consider if this is a meaningful response. Certainly, as head of the agency, the director is ultimately responsible for incidents that occur during her tenure as boss. However, as with most issues related to the operation of the government, the truth may be far more complex and for Congress, uncomfortable.

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