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How important is a paper trail in fighting wrongful termination?

The movie "All the President's Men" tells the true story of how intrepid reporters broke the Watergate Scandal that ultimately sank the presidency of Richard Nixon back in the 1970s. The source of the most damning leads was a person identified at the time only as "Deep Throat." And a single Deep Throat line from the movie has since become a common idiom in American culture. "Follow the money."

In the context of the Watergate affair, money purportedly was the paper trail that allowed the reporters to get to the heart of the corruption that infected the Nixon White House. And while money is often the driving force behind a lot of questionable activities in government, it isn't the only paper that's important in resolving issues.

Another government shutdown averted -- for now

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill might have a hard time finding consensus on how to get to the bathroom, but they do know how to push the political drama envelope to the limit.

With just seven hours to go before federal funding ran dry, the House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution measure Wednesday night. The Senate had taken similar action hours earlier. President Obama reportedly signed the stop-gap funding bill late yesterday.

Federal contract workers get sick leave by presidential order

President Barak Obama continues to alter the labor landscape bit by bit by virtue of executive order. His latest move came earlier this month. He signed an order declaring that starting on Jan. 1, 2017, federal contractors must offer employees paid sick leave as part of their employment benefits.

The move follows an order at the start of the summer in which the Labor Department announced that overtime pay would be made available for millions more American workers. And, of course, there have been the orders raising the minimum wage to federal contract workers, restricting labor law violators from doing business with the government and extending anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender employees.

Handling of hack issues at OPM has honchos facing off

Getting beyond the recent information hacks of the Office of Personnel Management is proving to be as big a challenge as one might expect when dealing with the federal bureaucracy. What makes this particular situation more disturbing, though, is that the friction is being generated from within OPM itself.

As we have reported in recent weeks, the breaches by purported Chinese hackers have left the information about tens of millions of people, federal workers, contractors, applicants and their some of their families vulnerable to exploitation.

Amid new gov't shutdown rumbles, things fed workers should know

It was only a few months ago that we were reflecting back on how difficult a year 2014 had been for the Merit Systems Protection Board. As we noted in March, the MSPB started the year deluged with 30,000 disputes over furloughs triggered by the 2013 sequestration. At the same time, it was scrambling to deal with issues presented by speedier appeals processes for the senior executive service.

All in all it was a difficult time. And now there are rumblings that we could be in for something of a furlough reboot. If that happens, there could be a new wave of disputes before the MSPB.

Is it time to end annual performance reviews for fed workers?

What good are annual performance reviews? That is the broad question posed in a recent piece by a former Obama administration human resources executive. He now works in the private sector.

The answer to that question, according to Jeff Neal, is not much. Proponents of the traditional reviews are said to claim that they drive performance by providing workers feedback and by offering them financial incentives to do better. But Neal says that's hogwash.

What federal employees who face retaliation can do

How common is retaliation in the federal workplace? Quite, according to data that was recently-released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC reported that retaliation was the most common complaint it received from federal employees over the past decade, and it was also the most commonly-cited discrimination finding in cases involving the federal sector.

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.

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