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Moving patients inherently dangerous for nurses' backs

Workers in hospitals face many challenges. They are exposed to a wide variety of potential infections from diseases that range from common to exotic. They often work rotating schedules and overnight hours. And they have to deal with the stress of literally working in life and death situations.

But for many nurses and orderlies, the greatest danger to their health maybe from what might be dismissed as a simple task; that of moving patients in and out of beds and chairs. Yet this common task can cause severe, debilitating back and spinal injuries leaving nurses and other workers unable to function, forcing them to resort to the workers' compensation system and often leaving them out of a job.

Former GSA official takes plea in fraud case

The repercussions from the General Services Administration 2010 Las Vegas convention scandal continue, with a plea bargain from one former administrator who had been indicted on a fraud charge. The lavish conference, which generated expenses greater than $800,000, led to the resignation of the head of the agency in 2012.

Numerous other top-level officials within the GSA were punished as a result of the scandal and the agency was tarnished by the allegations of out-of-control spending during the recession. The official who pled guilty to a charge of requesting reimbursement for a nights stay in a Vegas resort that had nothing to do with any work related activities. He also admitted to other abuses of his position and false claims during his time at the GSA.

Who's got your back?

Working as a nurse is hard work. And it is ironic, that as primary healthcare providers, some nurses work so hard that they destroy their own health. Many of those nurses are federal employees working in the many Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country.

The cause of the damage to the nurses is not some exotic tropical disease, like Ebola, or even more common contagious illnesses that are often found in hospitals. No, the most damaging work most nurses perform is doing the heavy lifting of patients. Day in and day out, they must lift patients from beds and chairs into wheelchairs or gurneys. 

Don't turn a win into a loss

During litigation on any matter, you may win the case, and have the judge approve your argument or you may settle a case with your opponents. The terms of the court order or the settlement are important. They may create obligations on both parties to the litigation and may require you to take specific steps or actions.

If you fail to adhere to those obligations can lead to your agreement becoming set aside and made no longer enforceable. Such was the case with a woman who worked for the U.S. Army. She was subjected to a removal action and appealed her removal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).

"I did what was right"

Federal employees are often given portrayed in a bad light. They are unmotivated, simply marking time until they retire. Many of the federal programs they are responsible for draw complaints regarding their expense, the amount of red-tape they generate and their lack of effectiveness.

But often these characterizations are cherry-picked and anecdotal. On the whole, much of the work of the maligned federal bureaucracy is absolutely essential. From the FAA managing the nation's air traffic control system, to the collection of taxes by the IRS, the Department of Agriculture's inspection of the food supply and the federal courts adjudication of thousands of lawsuits, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracking down disease outbreaks, residents of the U.S. would see radical, and not necessarily improved, living conditions if the federal bureaucracy stopped doing its job. 

Beware the stick man

In argumentation, one famous form is known as the "stick man." This is an argument where an often simple scenario is laid out and then easily knocked down by the proponent of the opposing view. Hence, the name stick man, because the argument topples over as easy as a stick man would.

Attacks on federal civil service job protections often take this form. One or two anecdotal experiences are conflated into the entire federal civil service. A story frames the discussion of the difficulty of firing federal workers as one of "red tape."

MSPB chief reviews challenging year for agency

Last year was difficult year for the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The Board, which is responsible for hearing appeals from administrative law judge decisions related to federal employee disciplinary, adverse actions and other employment law cases.

The MSPB began the year swamped with 30,000 furlough cases caused by the sequestration in 2013. And it had to deal with new, rapid appeals process for senior executive service (SES), which has already demonstrated the shortcomings of the new process.

Problems at the VA continue, pt.2

Disciplining management is always problematic. Senior managers may manipulate structures they oversee to insulate themselves from direct allegation of misconduct or wrongdoing. The VA has been perceived to be particularly poor in punishing misconduct among its senior management, which is in part why Congress enacted the draconian new dismissal procedure in the wake of the Phoenix VA hospital scheduling scandal.

This new law could allow very rapid terminations of senior managers, and shortens their appeal rights, but given the newness of the law, it is possible it may be challenged at some point as a violation of their due process rights.

Problems at the VA continue, pt.1

Retaliation claims and allegations of misconduct by supervisors and managers are always a difficult situation for any employees. Their managers should be above reproach, since they are not paid to perform the essential function of the department or agency, but to see that those functions are effectively executed.

When managers fail to properly execute their duties, as they apparently did at the Phoenix VA hospital, bad things can happen for the veterans needing healthcare services from the facility. 

Some former troubled IRS employees rehired

Hiring employees is a complex task. A manager must review the candidate's qualifications and the skills needed for the position. They then must look at whether they are a veteran or have other factors that could give them a preference. And the manager must possess good judgment.

A recent report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that the Internal Revenue Service hired some individuals who had been previously employed by the IRS and had performance or conduct issues. 

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