Federal workers get guidance for using social media during presidential election season

Thursday, November 19th, 2015


Federal workers can identify their political inclinations when using social media under revised guidance issued by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The revised guidance, issued last week, addresses the Hatch Act restrictions and the use of social media and email, especially during the 2016 presidential election.

Under the Hatch Act, federal employees cannot engage in any political activity while on duty or in the workplace, engage in political in an official capacity, or solicit political contributions. In light of expanded use of social media in a worker's private and official time, the revised guidance clarifies federal workers' use of social media and email as it related to political activity.

The Special Counsel provides guidance in three areas relating to an employee's “Facebook” and “Twitter” account: the use of campaign logos, candidate photographs, and posts from a partisan group or candidate.

Federal employees will be allowed to “display campaign logos or candidate photographs as their cover or header photo situated at the top of their social media profiles.”

They can also “display campaign logos or candidate photographs as their profile pictures on their personal accounts.” However, they are not allowed when on duty or at the workplace “to post, “share,” “tweet.” or “retweet,” any items. Such action would show support for a particular group or candidate, according to the guidance.

Further restricted employees” (mostly federal employees working in law enforcement or intelligence agencies) may “like” a post from a partisan group or candidate and can comment on a group's or candidate's page while not at work. However, these employees may not “like” at any time a post that solicits contributions

Even with this revised guidance, some situations are not clear cut for federal employees. For further information, employees can view the Frequently Asked Questions guidance referred to in the Special Counsel memorandum. 

Senate passes FY2016 Military Construction/VA appropriations bill

Friday, November 13th, 2015


This week the Senate passed the FY2016 Military Construction(MilCon)/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill by a vote of 93-0.  The House passed its version of the bill in April.

The bill provides $80 billion for FY2016 MilCon/VA discretionary appropriations, over $2 billion more than the bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in May and $1 billion higher than the president's request.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC), commending the bipartisan work of the committee and the full Senate, said the bill “is the first stand-alone appropriations measure amended, debated,and passed in the Senate since 2001. This year also marks the first time since 2009 that all 12 appropriations bills were approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.”

This is the first FY2016 appropriations bill to pass in the Senate and also in both the House and Senate. The House has passed six FY 2016 appropriations bills but, until now, Senate Democrats have kept appropriations bills from coming to a vote on the Senate floor through procedural means. Last week they blocked consideration of the FY2016 Department of Defense Appropriations bill.

However, after a budget agreement was reached last month Senate Democrats now appear ready to move forward on FY2016 appropriations. However, because of concerns over possible policy riders (such as defunding Planned Parenthood) proposed by Republicans on separate appropriations bills, Democrats want to put all 12 appropriations in one omnibus appropriations bill. They supported the FY2016 MilCon/VA bill as a possible vehicle for such an omnibus bill.

Congress returns from the Veteran's Day recess next week with four weeks remaining until the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government expires (December 11). The question is: Can Republicans and Democrats agree on an omnibus appropriations bill in that time or will another CR be needed to provide time to reach agreement? Or will we be brought to the brink of government shutdown once again?

ASMC Individual and Team Achievement Awards Now Open for Nominations!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


The ASMC National Achievement Awards nomination period is now open!

Any personnel in theDepartment of Defense or the StatesCoast Guard (to include National Guard or Reserve Components) may nominate a person or team who has demonstrated performance, including exceptional achievements. If the nomination through an ASMC chapters must submit all qualified nominations received. Each nomination must be submitted via the ASMC Awards Online website by the published deadline.More information about the nomination process is available here.

House passes FY2016 Defense Authorization bill adjusted to align with budget agreement

Thursday, November 5th, 2015


Today the House passed by a wide margin (370-58) a revised FY2016 National Defense Authorization bill that meets the parameters set out in the budget agreement.

The revised bill aligns FY2016 defense funding with the agreement by adjusting the total DoD amount downward by $5 billion.

The new bill provides almost $607 billion including about $580 billion for total DoD, $18.6 billion for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program and $7.6 billion to meet the statutory requirements for DoD Concurrent Receipt payments.

The new bill cuts added amounts in the original bill by almost $1 billion, including $250 million for Army readiness, $192.5 million for Army National Guard readiness, $150 million for the DDG-51, and $100 million for PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement. The bill also increase cuts made in the original by by over $700 million including $455 million more for planned DoD headquarters streamlining.

Additional reductions of $855 million include $262.5 million for Army civilian hiring targets, $100 million to classified programs, $90.1 million for unjustified growth in the Defense Information System Network, and $50 million for reduced THAAD purchases. The bill also increases cuts to fuel purchases by $1.1 million due to lower fuel prices.

The revised bill also reduces Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding by $782 million, including a $250 million cut to the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, $100 million to coalition support, and $125milion to the Syria train and equip program.

No other changes were made to the original bill. It still includes a 1.3 percent military pay raise, reforms to military compensation and retirement, and significant reforms to defense acquisition.

The House-passed bill still contains a provision that prevents the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo. The White House had identified this provision as a reason for a veto threat of the earlier bill. In a press conference White House Press Secretary John Earnest did not rule out a possible veto of this biil because of the Guantanamo language, but did say that in any case the president was moving forward with a plan of action to close the prison.

OUSD(C) Hosts Reimbursable Work Orders Conference on 11/19/15

Monday, November 2nd, 2015


Join the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) at the next Reimbursable Work Orders Day on November 19, 2015, at the Mark Center in Alexandria, VA.

On November 19, 2015, OUSD(C) is hosting a Department-wide conference at the Mark Center in Alexandria, focused on the IPP-IGT initiative. Keynote speakers include Mr. Mark Easton (Deputy Chief Financial Officer, OUSD(C)), The Honorable Mr. Peter Levine (Deputy Chief Management Officer) and Ms. Debra Sonderman (Director, Office of Acquisition and Property Management and Senior Procurement Executive, U.S. Department of the Interior).

Learn more about the program here.

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