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When hostile working conditions affect mental health

Most people have experienced stress at work. And some jobs are just naturally stressful and high-pressure.

But some jobs are so stressful that they affect an individual’s mental health. And shockingly, some employers intentionally make working conditions so bad that employees have no other choice but to resign.

Supreme Court: ADEA applies to all public-sector employers

When two firefighters brought an age discrimination suit against their tiny fire district, the fire district defended itself by saying that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) didn't apply. According to its reading of the law, only employers with at least 20 employees were covered, and it didn't meet that threshold. The firefighters argued that the 20-employee threshold only applies to private-sector employers. This jurisdictional question was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The high court has just ruled unanimously that the 20-employee threshold does not apply to public-sector employers. Local, state and federal agencies of all sizes are covered by the law.

OPM's 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results released

With substantial changes being proposed across the federal workforce, we're in an unsettling time. Are the changes in the President's Management Agenda aimed at gutting merit systems protections? Have leaders concluded that the federal workforce is standing in the way of progress?

Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget and Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management, says no. "One of the things I have tried to make absolutely clear is that the workforce is part of the solution," she recently told Government Matters. "The workforce is not our problem in government."

Symposium: Workforce change should consider employee experience

In September, business leaders, human capital experts and federal leaders gathered for a White House symposium to discuss human resources issues surrounding the President's Management Agenda. One core idea from the discussion and its associated report was that any changes made to the federal workplace should take the employee experience into account as much as business needs.

"If you lose your employees, if you lose their hearts and minds, it doesn't matter what you do," said a participant from MITRE Corporation, which produced a report on the symposium recently.

Fiscal Service Bureau releases new Antifraud Playbook for feds

Federal, state and local agencies will be working harder to fight fraud now that "Program Integrity: The Antifraud Playbook," a program developed by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and the Chief Financial Officers Council, has been released. The playbook is meant to help agencies meet the requirements of the Fraud Reduction and Data Analytics Act of 2015 and OMB Circular A-123 -- to reduce money lost to the government through improper payment. It's also part of the "Getting Payments Right" goal of the president's management agenda.

"One of the things that [the Government Accountability Office] said that was quite telling was basically two words: do something," a Fiscal Service spokesperson told the Federal Times. "GAO wasn't looking for people to put in elaborate fraud data analytics tools on day one, they just wanted to see an agency do something to start out on their effort for preventing and detecting fraud."

When disciplinary action is not consistently applied

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A federal employee who is accused of misconduct at work may face an employee investigation, which may be followed by disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action could be something relatively minor, such as receiving a letter of counseling or a letter of reprimand. Or it could be serious, such as job loss or even criminal penalties.

NSA inspector general calls for a 'robust whistleblower program'

Rob "It's a big federal government agency. It spends a lot of taxpayer dollars. And so, as a general matter, I think the public has a right to know how its funds are being spent," the National Security Agency's inspector general, Rob Storch, told NPR.

"I felt very strongly that this was a key function for an inspector general's office, to have a robust whistleblower program," he added.

Considering helping out with the census? What to know

Recently, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent a memo to agency heads about recruitment for the 2020 decennial census. Employees of other federal agencies are being invited to take on temporary second jobs with the Census Bureau.

This was done for the 2010 census and provided an important source of workers, according to the OMB. At that time, the Census Bureau established partnerships with 81 federal agencies and dually-employed some 6,406 federal workers, along with over 16,000 employees of state, local and tribal governments across the nation.

Lawsuit against military service rules for women moves forward

In 2012, the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), an advocacy group for female soldiers, filed a lawsuit challenging a 1994 Pentagon policy barring women from serving in combat roles. That policy kept women from serving in 238,000 positions in the military.

That policy has since been replaced by what is called as the "Leaders First" directive. Under the directive, women can only serve in combat units that have at least two women leaders. The policy, SWAN argues, has concentrated women into a few brigades that are derisively referred to as "Amazon units." Moreover, it excludes all National Guard units in 48 states, preventing women from accepting armor or infantry positions. They are also barred from entry-level assignments to combat units, which men are allowed.

FEMA administrator keeps job, to repay cost of misused vehicles

A Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's investigation found that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration took advantage of government-issued vehicles by using them to travel to his home in North Carolina and for other non-official purposes. According to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, administrator William "Brock" Long will reimburse the government for the cost of the misuse but he will not lose his job.

In a statement on Friday, Nielsen said that there had once been a longstanding practice of allowing FEMA administrators to use government vehicles so that they could be connected with the agency during crisis situations. However, use of government vehicles for travel from home to work was never officially authorized under the practice. Moreover, the practice was abolished last April.

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