FY2016 budget deficit increases to $587 billion

Friday, October 21st, 2016


The Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced that the final FY2016 federal budget deficit was $587 billion, up $148 billion from FY2015 ($439 billion).  The administration had estimated in the annual Mid-Session Review in July that the FY2016 deficit would be $616 billion.

This is the first increase in the deficit in five years.

The increase in the deficit came as higher government expenditures (+$166 billion) more than offset a small increase in revenues (+$18 billion).  The administration does point out that part of the increase in outlays was due to the timing of benefit payments.  Because October 1 fell on a weekend, benefit payments were made in September.

Data on government expenditures and receipts and the deficit are reported in the Monthly Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government (MTS) prepared by the Treasury Department.

When measured as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the FY2016 deficit increased to 3.2 percent (from 2,5 percent in FY2015), about the average for the past 40 years.  During the period FY2009 to FY2012 the deficit’s share of GDP averaged about 8.5 percent.

The modest revenue growth (+$18 billion) in 2016 was led by a 4.7 percent increase in social insurance and retirement receipts (+$49.8 billion).  Miscellaneous receipts increased by 5.8 percent (+$8.4 billion), estate and gift taxes rose by 11 percent increase (+$2.1 billion), and individual income tax receipts increased by a very small 0.3 percent (+$5.3 billion).  However, these increases were partially offset by an almost 13 percent decline in corporate income tax receipts (-$44.2 billion), a 3.3 percent decrease in excise taxes (-$3.2 billion), and a 0.6 percent drop in customs duties (-$0.2 billion).

Spending on health programs and Medicare increased by $77.5 billion in FY2016 (+7.5 percent). Social Security outlays rose $28.3 billion (+3.2 percent), and spending for veterans benefits and services rose by $14,8 billion (9.3 percent). Outlays for net interest payments increased by $17.4 billion (+7.8 percent).  Spending on national defense increased by only $3.9 billion in FY2016 (0.7 percent). 

Looking ahead, OMB projected in its Mid-Session Review that the FY2017 deficit would be $441 billion.  However, both OMB and the Congressional Budget Office expect deficits to rise again by 2020.

Federal civilian retirees to get 0.3 percent COLA in 2017

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016


Federal civilian retirees are set to receive a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2017.  Retirees covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will see the increase reflected in their January 2017 payment.

This small increase results from continuing low inflation throughout the year, primarily due to the decline in gasoline prices.  The annual retiree COLA is calculated as the change in the average Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)—published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year.

This is the same calculation for the Social Security COLA.  Social Security recipients will also receive a 0.3 COLA in 2017.

Federal retirees received no COLA in 2016.  The COLA was 1.7 percent in 2015. 1.5 percent in 2014, 1,7 percent in 2013 and 3.6 percent in 2012. No adjustment was paid to retirees in 201 and 2010.

In late August President Obama notified Congress that federal civilian employees should receive a 1.6 percent pay raise in 2017. The 1.6 percent pay raise is a combination of a 1.0 percent across-the-board raise announced in the letter and an increase in locality pay the president said he will announce by November 30, 2016.  If Congress takes no action on the pay raise when it completes the FY2017 appropriations bills, the president can issue an executive order implementing the raise.

ASMC Membership Dues Increase

Friday, October 7th, 2016


Thank you for your support of the American Society of Military Comptrollers and for your service to our nation. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and to support the advancement of the military comptrollership profession.

Over the past 68 years ASMC has provided resources and opportunities, enhancing the development and career progression of our membership. With over 35,000 financial managers achieving their DoD FM Certification, ASMC’s local chapter and national professional development opportunities provide added value to the Department and to our membership in providing opportunities to obtain Continuing Education and Training (CET) units, in meeting requirements to earn 40, 60, or 80 CETs every two years to maintain their DFMCP certification at Levels 1, 2, or 3. While maintaining a modest level of dues, we continue to focus on providing value to its members. In fact, while operating costs have increased year after year, ASMC has not increased its individual membership rates over the past 11 years.

Membership dues are a vital source of funding our operations toward achieving our strategic goals and initiatives. After careful consideration, the ASMC National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a recommendation from the Executive Director to increase membership dues as a means of maintaining our high-quality offerings, delivering important benefits, and supporting our strategic initiatives. This decision to ask for your additional support was carefully weighed and is a critical step in the growth of ASMC. Factors considered by the NEC included comparison of membership dues in other professional associations; the current costs of seminars, conferences, and individual college or university courses; and the timing and amount of past increases in membership dues.

To continue providing you with the level of quality service you expect and deserve, and to strengthen and expand the programs ASMC provides, effective 1 January 2017 annual membership dues will increase from $26 to $40 and three-year membership dues will increase from $75 to $114. If you recently joined ASMC or renewed your membership (for one or three years), your dues will not increase until your membership “paid thru” date. However, from now through the end of 31 December 2016, current members (as of 5 October 2016) may elect to purchase (at the current dues rate) a “one time” renewal of membership (for either one or three years), thus extending your membership paid thru date for 12 or 36 months. Prior to 1 January 2017, “non-members” of ASMC may join our Society for one or three years at current fees. Even with this increase in annual dues, ASMC will continue to have the lowest membership fees among professional associations that provide training, education, and certification programs.

Current Membership Value and Enhancements

We believe our members receive great value at the current dues rate and will continue to receive great value at the new rate. ASMC provides national, regional, and local chapter professional development and education offerings; CDFM (with Acquisition specialty) certification program; Defense News Highlights; quarterly Armed Forces Comptroller journal; and the National PDI (for those approved by their organizations to participate). We are currently working with a test developer to complete the CDFM and CDFM-A exam updates and we will also be revising the associated textbooks. We are redesigning and updating our ASMC National Website. As a member, you will continue to receive special registration rates for the National PDI and member rates for CDFM Program enrollment, textbooks, and recertification. To see the full list of member benefits, please visit

ASMC continues to further increase the value of membership. Members can look forward to the following enhancements that will provide additional value:

  • Engage.
    • ASMC member groups will be able to communicate, ask questions, and share best practices via a collaboration platform called “Engage.” We will establish groups (budgeteers, accountants, auditors, cost analysts, etc) wherein members of each group can share resources and collaborate on subjects of interest.
    • From an internal perspective, we will establish groups (including Chapter Presidents; Treasurers; and Chairs of Programs, Membership, and Certification to better enable chapters to communicate internally and to connect with other chapters. Engage will enable chapters to share best practices in areas such as conducting Regional or Mini-PDIs, programs, growth and development, and certification.
    • ASMC will have an Early Careerist group and we will fund some chapter-level early careerist engagement and outreach activities.
  • Chapter Websites. As part of our Website redesign project, we will provide a new website template, enabling chapters that do not have a website to develop one.
  • Association Management System (AMS). Originally installed in 2007, our AMS needs to be updated. Over the next few years, ASMC will conduct an analysis of alternatives, data cleansing, and upgrade or migration to a new AMS. The new system is essential to ASMC's future – not only from an operational standpoint in providing tools and functionality needed to more efficiently manage the organization, but most importantly, to support our ability to provide the best customer service possible for our members in the years ahead. With this major upgrade, members will have access to better membership renewal and recertification platforms, as well as an improved member profile function. The new system will also help us automate to serve members more effectively without sacrificing “personal” service.
  • We thank our current and past chapter presidents and officers for your dedication and service to the profession of defense financial management. Chapter rebates for membership joins and renewals after 1 January 2017 will increase to 20 percent from current 19% and 16% levels for annual and three-year memberships, thus providing increased funding to enable chapters to provide additional benefits to members.
  • ASMC will explore methods to expand its educational offerings and provide additional professional development opportunities and learning resources to our membership.

We greatly value your loyalty to ASMC and trust you appreciate the value of your membership. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reply. You may also visit to view info regarding membership fees.

To renew your membership now, please visit

I am confident you will find stronger value in the changes we are making and I look forward to your continuing loyalty and support of ASMC.


Al Runnels, CDFM-A
Executive Director, ASMC

DoD changes probationary period for new civilian hires

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016


Beginning in November, the probationary period for new civilian hires will be two years instead of one year, the Department of Defense announced this week.

In a memorandum to DoD human resources directors, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civilian Personnel Policy Julie Blanks said the change would affect personnel appointed to permanent positions in competitive service and SES appointments from November 26, 2015 forward.  The change was required in Sec. 1105 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

The policy change is necessary, DoD said, because one year may not be enough time to judge the performance of new employees, in the “increasingly complex nature” of DoD’s work.  “The longer probationary period offers employees a greater opportunity to showcase their talents and for supervisor’s to properly asses their capabilities,” a DoD spokesperson said.

The new policy does not apply to personnel appointed prior to November 26, 2105 and those appointed in excepted service, a DOD spokesperson said.

The policy memorandum notes that DoD and the military services do have the discretion to extend a probationary period beyond two years.  The policy for this discretionary extension is being prepared.

The two-year probationary period policy does not change the one-year probationary period for supervisors, DoD said.  New employees appointed to a supervisory period will serve the one-year probationary period and the one-year supervisory probationary period concurrently. 

A person transferring from another agency to DoD who has completed a probationary period in competitive service (and has full appeal rights under the Merit Systems Protection Board) does not have to serve another probationary period, DoD said.  However, a person who transfers from another government agency and receives a career SES appointment in DoD after November 26, 2015 will serve a two-year probationary period.

A person who transfers from another agency into DoD who has not completed a probationary period could be required to complete a new probationary period, with possible credit for receive credit for prior probationary service.

Federal employee health insurance premiums set to increase 4.4 percent in 2017

Friday, September 30th, 2016


Health Insurance premiums for employees covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program will increase an overall average of 4.4 percent in 2016, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced this week.

The increase is lower than the 6.4 percent increase registered in 2016, but higher than the increases in 2015 (3.2 percent), 2014 (3.7 percent) and 2013 (3.4 percent).

The FEHB program covers about 85 percent of all federal employees and 90 percent of federal retirees. According to OPM, FEHB is the largest employer-sponsored health benefits program in the United States.  The federal government pays an average of 70 percent of total premium cost.  Premiums for specific health plans and dental and vision plans are shown on the OPM website.

OPM announced that “all plans will offer clinically appropriate and medically necessary treatment for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2017.”

The Open Season for health, dental and vision, and tax-deferred Flexible Spending Accounts (federal employees only) will start on November 14, 2016 and end on December 12, 2016.  Open season allows federal employees and retirees to make changes to their plans and eligible employees to enroll in the plan of their choice.

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