And Then They Came for the Toilets...

NTEU learned yesterday through one of its members that EPA planned to turn off the water in the Potomac Yard building for four hours on Friday depriving all employees of bathroom facilities, drinking water, and dish-washing capability. While no formal notice was provided to EPA's headquarters unions, employees at Potomac Yard received the following cursory notice from the building manager......

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Union Files Grievance Challenging Wasteful Timekeeping System

The EPA Inspector General investigates fraud, waste, and abuse, and defines "waste" as "extravagant, careless or needless expenditure of government funds, or the consumption of government property that results from deficient practices, systems, controls or decisions." The Office of Chief Financial Officer's roll-out of the latest PeoplePlus "upgrade" certainly qualifies. This new system caused thousands of wasted employee hours to accomplish what was previously being done in only a few minutes.

Our informal surveys of employees revealed dozens of hours of wasted time per employee just trying to accurately input time. We learned that many employees on flexible schedules were taking up to two hours to get time certified every two weeks. Assuming 20% of employees are on flexible schedules, that is approximately 5,800 wasted hours each pay period.....

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Storm Closure: Can My Boss Make Me Take Leave or Telework?

We've learned that some managers are erroneously telling their employees that they need to take annual leave when they are actually entitled to administrative leave as a result of the recent wind-related closure. We've also learned that some employees were told to telework, even though they did not have or want a telework agreement.

Read on to learn your rights and find out how to code your time sheet.....

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Next Shutdown Deadline March 23

 The budget deal decided the size of the overall federal pie, but not the size of each slice agencies will receive.

The budget deal decided the size of the overall federal pie, but not the size of each slice agencies will receive.

By now you've heard there was a budget deal signed by the President. The deal re-opened the shuttered federal government, but only through March 23.

It also sets the overall amount of money the federal government has, but not individual agency allocations. As Politico noted, it sets the overall size of the pie, but did not establish the size of the slices that each agency gets.

Between now and March 23, Congress needs to fight about the appropriation that each agency will receive. That exercise needs to be completed by March 23. If they don't succeed by the deadline, the government will either again close its doors, or they will need to pass another continuing resolution.

If you're concerned about EPA's budget or other issues, click here and email your Congressperson.

Budget Deal in the Works, CR Will Be Necessary

 Annual budget process flow chart. This is how its supposed to work.

Annual budget process flow chart. This is how its supposed to work.

I'm sure you've already heard about the budget deal being worked out in the Senate today. We're on Capitol Hill this week at NTEU's legislative conference. What we've learned from our discussions with Senators, Congresspersons, and legislative staff is that it will likely take a couple weeks to work out the budget deal between the house and the Senate. That will require one or two new continuing resolutions (CRs).

Staff we spoke with expect the CR to be voted on today and to pass because neither party has an appetite for another shutdown. That will give both houses of Congress time to work out an "omnibus" budget deal.

Speaker Pelosi seems, however, unhappy that there's no DACA-fix included in the budget deal. Staff nonetheless expect that this objection will not stop a budget deal that's in the works.

The wildcard is, of course, President Trump. It is unknown whether the President will sign the omnibus into law. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

The Clock is Running on Next Shutdown Threat

Unless you were on another planet, you know by now that another short-term continuing resolution (CR) was passed to keep the government open. This CR expires at midnight on February 8, 2018, which means that if a budget deal is not reached in Congress by then and signed by the President, the government will again shut down.

EPA announced before the last shutdown that it had funds to operate for about a week. Assuming that's true, and knowing that we've used one of those days of funds while the rest of the government was shut down, it is likely that EPA will be able to operate through February 14 or 15 before needing to shutter the doors.

NTEU National was on the Hill fighting for us and obtained two large victories....

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New Government Pay Tables

If you haven't paid attention, we are actually getting a small cost of living adjustment this year, after many years of freeze or smaller-than-the-cost-of-living increases. While private sector professionals have been seeing significant pay increases since 2008, government employees have been burdened with pay freezes or, after calculating inflation, reductions.

But, surprisingly, the Trump Administration let the cost of living increases go into effect this year, while simultaneously threatening a future pay freeze. Here's the new salary table for the Washington, DC area....

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Ho, Ho, Ho! Shutdown looming!

From our government budget and politics contact. Looks like a game of chicken is unfolding. Democrats and Republicans are both saying that a government shutdown will hurt the other guys more than their side. As a result, it's looking more likely that January 19 will roll around without a budget or continuing resolution (CR). Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Read on for more detail from our budget contact....

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Shutdown Averted: Congress Passes Spending Bill

 The Grinch has been stopped at the border. January 19 is the next showdown.

The Grinch has been stopped at the border. January 19 is the next showdown.

Thursday night Congress averted a government shutdown, but only temporarily. According to Roll Call, "the Senate voted 66-32 to clear a continuing resolution that would fund the government through Jan. 19, provide funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers through March 31, appropriate $2.1 billion for a private care access program for veterans and temporarily extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until Jan. 19."  

This comes on the heels of the House's vote earlier. The bill now heads to the President's desk. The President is expected to sign the bill.

We'll be back at this brinkmanship come mid-January. Stay tuned.......

EPA Ignores Experts Setting Password Security Policy

In case you missed it, EPA is yet again changing it's password requirements. This attempt to strengthen security will ultimately reduce security.

As noted security expert Bruce Schneier notes, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently published its four-volume SP800-63b Digital Identity Guidelines. As Bruce notes, the document "makes three important suggestions when it comes to passwords:

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NTEU Defends EPA Attorneys from Attack

After EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wrongfully accused EPA's attorneys of colluding with outside parties, NTEU Chapter 280 came to their defense with a strongly-worded rebuke of the Administrator's improper accusations.....

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NTEU Members Get Free $1,000 Death & Dismemberment Insurance

In case you needed another reason to join NTEU as a member, all NTEU members are automatically covered by a $1,000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment Policy -- Free! There is no premium to be paid; the only requirement is that they remain an NTEU member in good standing.

Members can get basic policy information....

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Continuing Resolution Expires December 8. Then What?

On December 8th, the current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the federal government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 expires and the temporary debt limit suspension in place will be lifted.  To date, none of the FY 2018 appropriations bills have been enacted and there remains no agreement on the so-called spending caps (sequestration).

On December 8th, funding for federal agencies expires and the temporary debt limit suspension will be lifted.  Congress must vote before then to pass a CR, an omnibus appropriations bill, or some combination thereof to keep the government open.....

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Consider Leave Donation to Dr. Grifo, EPA's Scientific Integrity Official

Dr. Francesca Grifo, the Scientific Integrity Official at EPA, is undergoing treatment for a serious illness. She is expected to be away from work until January 1, 2018.  Her accumulated annual and sick leave, and leave bank hours are exhausted. Please consider donating annual leave to help her out.  Dr. Grifo has been instrumental in helping our employees with Scientific-Integrity issues and we need her back.

Dr. Grifo is a member of the EPA leave bank. You may transfer your leave to Francesca by completing....

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