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full-time rolE for part-timers?


NARFE-PAC Rises above the campaign funding Fray COVER STORY


With Budget Cutbacks, Agencies Slash Employee Bonuses and Awards


Volume 90 • Number 3

H T U O Y accounts

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APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Members must be 18 to 25 years of age when they apply for the credit card. Members under the age of 21 will need a cosigner or proof of income. All terms and conditions subject to change without notice. Promotional rate applies to new credit cards issued from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. Balance transfers must be completed within the first 90 days of card issue; 1.99% APR applies to purchases and balance transfers for the first six months. After the six month promotional period, the rate will adjust to the purchase rate, currently 9.90% for young members opening a checking account with an overdraft line of credit. If a checking account or line of credit is not established, the standard rate is 11.90% APR at the time of application. This offer may not be used to pay or make balance transfers from any existing NARFE Premier FCU accounts, loans or credit cards. Rewards Points expire five years from time of issue.

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WashingTon Watch


NARFE Tallies 2013 Legislative Successes

10 Pay Freeze Ends; FY 2014 Spending Bill Passes

11 Feds Lose Congressional

Advocates to Retirement

12 NARFE Bill Tracker 14 2014 FECA COLA: 1.5 Percent


4 From the President 36 Managing Money


38 The Informed Citizen Cover Story

40 Alzheimer’s Update

Yanked! As with nearly every other form of federal employee compensation, bonuses and awards for agency employees have taken a beating over the past several years.


16 Questions & Answers 42 For the Record: TSP

Investments, COLA Chart

44 NARFE News


full-time role for part-timers? Temporary and seasonal federal jobs abound, but opportunities to move to full-time positions are limited.

52 The Way We Worked special sections

32 NARFE-PAC and the Changing Campaign Finance Landscape

On the Web visit us online at:

45 Going to the NARFE

National Convention? Here’s What to Expect

like us on facebook:

NARFE National Headquarters follow us on twitter:



Illustration by Bill Pragluski, Critical Stages, LLC

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march 2014 | Volume 90 | Number 03

Editor Margaret M. Carter Assistant Editor Ken Fanelli Editorial Administrator Toni Vallario Graphic Design Charlene Gridley Editorial Board Joseph A. Beaudoin, Paul H. Carew Elaine C. Hughes, Richard G. Thissen Editorial Office: narfe magazine 606 North Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914 Phone: 703-838-7760 Fax: 703-838-7781 Email: Advertising Sales: Warren Berger Media People Inc. 122 East 42nd St., Suite 725 New York, NY 10168 Phone: 212-779-7172, ext. 223 Email: NARFE for the Visually Impaired On the Telephone: This publication can be heard on the telephone by persons who have trouble seeing or reading the print edition. For more information, contact the National Federation of the Blind NFB-NEWSLINE® service at 866-5047300 or go to On digital audio: Issues of narfe magazine are also available in audio format through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). For availability, call 202-727-2142 or your local NLS service provider. The Association, since July 1970, has been classified by the IRS as a tax-exempt labor organization [not a union]; however, dues and gifts or contributions to the Association are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes.

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association NATIONAL OFFICERS JOSEPH A. BEAUDOIN, President; PAUL H. CAREW, Vice President; ELAINE C. HUGHES, Secretary; RICHARD G. THISSEN, Treasurer;


REGION I Arthur Pike (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) Tel: 207-764-4468 Email: REGION II Evelyn Kirby (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) Tel: 410-604-1141 Email: REGION III Donald Stewart (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Virgin Islands) Tel: 305-442-6388 Email: REGION IV Paul E. Johnson (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) Tel: 812-306-5137 Email: REGION V Carol R. Ek (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota) Tel: 620-241-1131 Email:

Here’s How to Contact Us… If you want to:

Join NARFE Call (toll-free): 800-627-3394 or go to: Change or update your membership record Call (toll-free): 800-456-8410 Email:

REGION VI Jerome S. Smith (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Republic of Panama and Texas) Tel: 903-534-5849 Email: REGION VII Frank Impinna (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) Tel: 303-482-1747 Email: REGION VIII Helen L. Zajac (California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada and Republic of Philippines) Tel: 707-644-7565 Email: REGION IX Lanny G. Ross (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington) Tel: 360-692-9741 Email: REGION X William F. Martin (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) Tel: 540-872-3345 Email:

For any other NARFE matter:

Call NARFE Headquarters: 703-838-7760 Email: Fax: 703-838-7785 Write: NARFE 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314

narfe (ISSN 1948-4453) is published monthly by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314. Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria, VA, and additional mailing offices. Members: Annual dues includes subscription. Nonmember subscription rate $45. Postmaster: Send address change to: NARFE Attn: Member Records, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314. To ensure prompt delivery, members should also forward changes of address without delay. Because of the volume involved, NARFE cannot acknowledge nor be responsible for unsolicited pictures and manuscripts, although every reasonable precaution is taken. All submissions become the property of NARFE. Copyright © 2014, NARFE. Advertisements in the magazine are not endorsements of products and/or services by NARFE, unless officially stated in the ad. We shall accept advertising on the same basis as other reputable publications: that is, we shall not knowingly permit a dishonest advertisement to appear in narfe, but at the same time we will not undertake to guarantee the reliability of our advertisers.


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Rare African Emerald Find Shocks Colombian Cartel U.S. jeweler seizes more than 10,000 carats and makes history by releasing the One-Carat Pride of Zambia Emerald Ring for UNDER $100! LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - A recent find of high quality emeralds in this African republic has thrown the luxury gem world into tumult. For hundreds of years, Colombians have controlled the high-end emerald market and sent prices soaring to over $15,000 per carat for top graded stones. But the history-making discovery of Zambian emeralds has revealed a green gemstone with mesmerizing clarity that simply changes everything. is important find led Stauer, a major gem dealer and importer, to bid on over 10,000 carats. Stauer designed a classic 1-ctw ring for people who love the gem but don’t love outrageously priced luxury. Because of their timely buy, Stauer is releasing this exclusive, natural emerald ring—aka “e Pride of Zambia”— to the public for under $100!

Discover a Different Kind of Emerald “For the price, these natural gemstones were the most magnificent emeralds that I’ve seen in 30 years,” said Michael Bisceglia at Stauer. “e value of Colombian stones can’t compare.” Industry experts back him up. Lab tests prove that Zambian emeralds are less porous and brittle than their Colombian brothers. And gem cutters have found Zambians so brilliant that they lend themselves more to high-luster cuts than traditional emerald designs. Unfortunately, the window on this exciting emerald opportunity is closing fast. Not long after Stauer acquired their cache, a recent auction saw Zambian emerald prices hit a new record high. e time to act on this great gem value is now, before it’s too late. Please call our U.S.-based client service team at 1-888-277-8375 or visit us online at

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From the President

Recommit to NARFE-PAC


irst, the good news: During the last two-year election cycle (2010-2012), the average contribution to NARFE-

PAC – “the federal employee and retiree defense fund” – was up. However, total contributions went down, and fewer than 16 percent of all members gave to NARFE’s political action committee.

Each election cycle, NARFE receives hundreds of requests for contributions from deserving congressional candidates. Unfortunately, we can support only a limited number of incumbents and challengers. With greater contributions from members to NARFE-PAC, we could give more to candidates who believe in the importance of federal government work and who will fight to preserve the earned benefits of federal employees

and retirees. With more funds in the NARFEPAC coffers, we could also send our most effective ambassadors to candidate fundraising events to make the case for the Association’s mission, explain NARFE’s legislative challenges and communicate its track record of successes. It is vital that we help support the best candidates to elective office – those men and women who want to ensure that federal government work is an attractive and enriching employment option for today’s and tomorrow’s public servants. Let’s, then, recommit to strengthening NARFE-PAC and rekindle the spirit of collective action that for so long has been the hallmark of this Association. Traditionally, March has been NARFE-PAC Month at NARFE. I hope you will read the NARFE-PAC Special Section in this issue and then make a contribution to further this important cause. You must be a NARFE member to contribute; all contributions are voluntary; and the Association will neither favor nor disadvantage anyone based on the amount of a contribution or the failure to make a contribution. As a NARFE-PAC contributor, you will wear your NARFE-PAC pin with pride − knowing that you have had a hand in electing candidates who have your interests at heart!

Joseph A. Beaudoin NARFE national President


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Quality, Affordable Travel since 1967! Canadian Rockies Tour Explore Banff, Jasper and Whistler

14 days from $1699* Departs August 8, 2014. Start in Seattle and drive through the lush forestlands of the Pacific Northwest. Visit Grand Coulee Dam and then head east to the “Big Sky Country” of Montana followed by journey’s through Glacier & Waterton National Parks. Travel through Kootenay National Park and then spend two-nights in Banff National Park. Continue northbound along the Icefields Parkway and in the heart of the Canadian Rockies you will visit Lake Louise; experience a “snow coach” ride onto Athabasca Glacier; Jasper & Yoho National Parks; Revelstoke, the Lake Okanagan region, Kamloops and Whistler. Then travel to Vancouver for your two-night stay before returning to Seattle. Enjoy a city tour including a stop at Pike Place Market before flying home. *PPDO. Plus $159 tax/service/government fees. Alternate departure dates available June-September. Seasonal charges may apply. Add-on airfare available.


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& Italy Tour

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Departs September 4, 2014. Fly into Hamburg, Germany (one-day and night) and enjoy a sightseeing tour including city hall and St. Michael’s Church. Then transfer to Kiel where you’ll board the MSC Orchestra. Experience luxury cruising as you sail to ports in: Copenhagen, Denmark, with its heritage of legend and poetic storybook tales; Southampton, UK; Vigo, Spain, Spain a beautiful town on the northeast coast with narrow cobbled streets; Lisbon, Portugal, one of the world’s great ports; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Valletta, Malta; and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Disembark in Venice, Italy where you will enjoy a tour of this amazing city. Then travel to Verona, offering examples of Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture; and Milan where you will depart for home.

Departs September 5 & 18, 2014. Start in the vibrant city of Berlin, Germany for a four-day tour including east and west Berlin; the Brandenburg Gate; Checkpoint Charlie; Potsdam; Dresden; Weimar and Frankfurt. You’ll visit Castle Cecilienhof and see many historic sites. Then board the 4-Star TUI Allegra for your cruise of the beautiful Rhine Valley with highlights including Rüdesheim; the Loreley Passage, famous for its rock wall towering over the river; Cologne; Düsseldorf; Rotterdam; Amsterdam; Arnhem; Bonn and Frankfurt. Your tour will continue visiting Heidelberg and Munich, with included sightseeing, before flying home from Munich. The September 18th departure date also includes a guided tour during the original Oktoberfest and meal at a traditional local brewery.

PPDO. Based on inside stateroom (Cat. I1), upgrades available. Plus $299 tax/service/government fees. Add-on arfare available.


* PPDO. Plus $299 tax/service/government fees. Based on an outside porthole stateroom category “DKA5”. Add $200 for September 18th departure date. Upgrades available. Add-on airfare available.

Call for Details! 800-736-7300

Trave other l with N Memb ARFE ers!

If you are a BlueCross and BlueShield member you can pay as little as $0 for the newest hearing aids through TruHearing®

TruHearing is an independent company providing discounts on hearing aids. * Price shown does not include cost of comprehensive hearing exam. Examination and testing for prescribing of hearing aids is covered under the Service Benefit Plan. The Insured may need to submit for reimbursement. Must be a Service Benefit Plan member to access TruHearing MemberPlus discounted pricing. State and local taxes and/or fees may apply. Prices and products subject to change. § The Service Benefit Plan will pay a hearing aid benefit up to $2,500 total every 3 calendar years for adults age 22 and over, and up to $2,500 total per calendar

year for members up to age 22. Do not rely on this communication piece alone for complete benefit information. All benefits are subject to the definitions, limitations, and exclusions in your Service Benefit Plan brochure. The Blue365® Discount Program offers access to savings on items that you may purchase directly from independent vendors, which may be different from items covered under your Service Benefit Plan or any other applicable federal healthcare program. For hearing aids, acupuncture, chiropractic and vision services, you must exhaust

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Washington Watch

top 10 in 2013

NARFE Tallies 2013 Legislative successes


he federal community faced unprecedented assaults in the first year of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Consequently, NARFE’s legislative efforts focused on defeating proposals

attacking federal employees and retirees. For its efforts, NARFE and two other federal employee groups were cited by The Hill newspaper as having scored one of the “Top 10 Lobbying Victories” in 2013. Here are some of NARFE’s accomplishments thus far in the 113th Congress. Retirement Annuities • Opposed a switch to the Chained CPI to calculate annual cost-ofliving adjustments (COLAs), as proposed in President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget. Switching to the Chained CPI would cost the average federal retiree $48,000 over 25 years by slowing the growth of COLA increases. The Chained CPI has not been adopted, in part, because of strong opposition by NARFE and other organizations. In October, NARFE hosted a press conference at the Capitol against the Chained CPI. Members of Congress and coalition partners representing other constituents who would be affected by the


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change attended as well. NARFE also participated in a rally at the White House against the Chained CPI hosted by a coalition partner. • Fought reduction or elimination of federal retirement annuities. The Association has been successful in ensuring legislation to eliminate the defined-benefit pension of the Federal Employees Retirement System for new hires (S. 1678) is not enacted into law. Federal Pay • Prevented increased retirement contributions for current employees. As part of a budget compromise, Congress increased the percentage paid by new hires (starting in 2014) by 1.3 percent.

The Hill, an influential Capitol Hill newspaper, recognized NARFE and two other federal employee groups as having scored one of 2013’s “Top 10 Lobbying Victories.”

Originally, the budget conference committee considered increasing the amount current employees contribute by 1.2 percent. Strong opposition by NARFE and its allies in Congress helped restrict the increase to new hires. Over the past three years, an increase in retirement contributions for current federal employees has been on the table, not only in the budget debates, but also to pay for other congressional priorities. • Advocated an end to the three-year pay freeze for current employees. The freeze ended by an Executive Order issued in December. Employees received a 1 percent raise in 2014. • Pushed for back pay for “nonexcepted” federal employees furloughed as a result of the government shutdown. NARFE sent a letter to all members of Congress urging pay restoration. Back pay was enacted as part of the legislation that reopened the government, H. J. Res. 59. Health Benefits • Opposed a proposal to dismantle the Federal Employees Health

Benefits Program (FEHBP). H.R. 1780 would remove active federal employees from the FEHBP and place them in the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). By removing younger and healthier employees from the pool of participants, retirees would be left in the program and face significantly higher costs. Eventually, the FEHBP would cease to exist, as participating as an active employee is a requirement for receiving it in retirement. • Achieved a “self plus one” option in the FEHBP. The budget deal passed in December allows the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offer this new option, long sought by NARFE members. OPM will establish a timeline for its implementation, and it could be available as early as the 2014 Open Season. • Helped ensure congressional staffers maintained benefits in the Health Insurance Marketplace. A provision of the ACA moved members of Congress and their staffs out of the FEHBP and into the health care exchanges the law created. NARFE helped craft the framework to ensure they would retain their employer contribution toward premiums for their new health plan options. Additionally, NARFE submitted comments on OPM’s proposed regulations, arguing that traditional FEHBP plans should remain available to them in retirement, among other recommendations. Ultimately, OPM adopted several of NARFE’s suggestions when it issued final regulations.

Other successes include: • Introduction of a bill to help protect federal retirees from “pension advance” scams was introduced in the House. NARFE worked with Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-PA, to draft the bill, H.R. 3310, which is currently in committee. • Testimony before Congress on a variety of issues affecting the federal workforce, including the retirement claims backlog, the value of the FEHBP, proposed reforms to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) and legislation reforming the U. S. Postal Service. What’s Ahead in 2014 Several of the proposals NARFE opposed in 2013, particularly the increase in retirement contributions for current federal employees, are still on the table. While there are no large budget deals or “grand bargains” looming this year, some members of Congress undoubtedly will propose using employee and retiree pay and benefits to fund other priorities. Whether President Obama includes the Chained CPI in his proposed FY 2015 budget will be a key factor in the amount of attention and consideration that issue receives this year. NARFE will continue to oppose it and any other provisions that would adversely affect COLAs. Reforms to the FEHBP may also be considered this year. Proposals are being crafted in Congress, but have yet to be made public. NARFE will continue to advocate positive changes in benefits for FEHBP participants and oppose

any proposals that would harm enrollees, both financially and in coverage. In that regard, the Senate postal reform bill, S. 1486, contains harmful provisions, not only for postal employees and retirees, but for all FEHBP participants. NARFE and other federal and postal employee groups are continuing to voice opposition to the bill as written. We expect postal reform legislation to move through the legislative process this year. NARFE will continue to strongly oppose both the House and Senate bills as they are currently written. —By Jessica Klement, Legislative Director

Legislative Resources • Legislative Hotline: A weekly update of legislative news, compiled by the NARFE Legislative Department staff, distributed via email and available by phone (toll-free) at 877-217-8234 and online at legislation. • Legislative Action Center: A one-stop site to send a letter to Congress, and more, at legislation.

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Washington Watch


Meet with your members of Congress this spring.


he $1.012 trillion appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law in January funds federal agency activities for the balance of fiscal year 2014. For federal employees, the bill completes the job of lifting the pay freeze that had been in effect since January 2010. In late December, President Obama signed an executive order authorizing a 1 percent pay raise for most federal employees. But the order lacked the authority to provide parallel relief to Federal Wage System employees, who receive hourly pay. Under the appropriations bill, wage-grade federal employees will receive the same 1 percent pay raise in 2014 as other federal workers. Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD, a longtime champion of federal employees and retirees, said: “This long-overdue modest pay raise for federal government employees is a good step in recognizing the value of blue-collar federal workers. They have been the targets of unending attacks. They’ve been furloughed, laid off and locked out through no fault of their own. I believe federal employees should never be scapegoats in fights over deficit reduction.” The appropriations bill is the detailed follow-up to the budget agreement forged in December by Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-WI, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA. It marks the first time in years that Congress has passed legislation spelling out discretionary spending for every line item in the 12 traditional annual appropriations bills.


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Typically, the goal of the House and Senate appropriations committees is to each approve 12 bills funding different parts of the federal government, meet in conference to reconcile differences, and then each house of Congress pass the final bills one by one. This time, lawmakers completed their work on all 12 bills in a single action – an Omnibus Appropriations Act. Despite early speculation that the budget agreement reached in December would lead to sweeping changes by closing tax loopholes and placing entitlement reforms on the table, it did not include either. The Omnibus Appropriations Act only addressed discretionary spending. Major entitlement programs – such as Social Security and Medicare – remained largely untouched. The appropriations bill also: • Restores cuts to the cost-ofliving adjustments (COLAs) of disabled working-age veterans, but leaves intact a budget agreement provision cutting the COLAs of military retirees under age 62. • Tightens the reins on agency spending, including conferences, travel and bonuses. For example, bonuses at the Internal Revenue Service and the General Services Administration will be subject to extensive new reporting requirements, agencies will have to issue substantial reports to their inspectors general when they reach threshold expense amounts on conferences, and federal employees will be prohibited from flying first (or any premium) class while on official business.

The House and Senate will be in recess March 17-21 and April 14-25. Legislators will be in their districts holding meetings and attending community events. While there are no budget deadlines or emergency bills at this time, NARFE members should take this opportunity to remind their representatives about the important work federal employees perform and to discuss pending legislation that affects the federal community. The Legislative Department has meeting-request template letters available, as well as materials to take to meetings, in the 2014 Legislative Toolkit on the NARFE website, (sign in and click under Legislation) or by contacting the Legislative Department.

• Bars the suspension of Saturday mail delivery and the closing of remote rural post offices. While the pay increase and unchanged COLA formula (see p. 8) are causes for relief, concerns remain that feds will continue to be easy targets for future savings as lawmakers turn their attention to the upcoming debtceiling debate, fiscal year 2015 funding and finding a solution to the nation’s long-term budget challenges. —By Alan Lopatin, Legislative Counsel



he federal family will lose two of its strongest advocates in Congress next year with the retirements of Reps. Frank R. Wolf, R-VA, and James P. Moran, D-VA. The long-time legislators announced in December and January, respectively, that they would not seek re-election. “For decades, Congressman Wolf has been a champion of America’s federal workforce,” said NARFE President Joseph A. Beaudoin, a constituent of Wolf. Rep. Wolf “Throughout his time in Congress, he has been a stalwart advocate for maintaining a strong federal workforce during a time when federal employees were being singled out. On behalf of America’s active and retired federal workers, we thank Congressman Wolf for his own service to our nation.” Beaudoin also praised Moran for his support. “Not only has he consistently crossed party lines to implement critical initiatives to Rep. Moran recruit new talent for our federal workforce, he also worked tirelessly behind the scenes and on the public stage to protect and enhance the earned pay and benefits of all federal employees and annuitants,” Beaudoin said. “Particularly, he led the efforts to ensure that Federal Employees

Retirement System (FERS) employees were able to credit unused sick leave toward retirement annuities and to rectify a law that reduced the future annuities of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) employees who end their careers in part-time status.” Wolf and Moran join a growing list of other notable retirements. Of particular interest to the federal community are the retirements of Rep. George Miller, D-CA, and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. Miller is the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He has been a strong opponent of efforts to weaken the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) by lowering the compensation insurance provided to injured workers. Coburn, R-OK, is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the federal workforce and the U.S. Postal Service. He will leave the Senate at the end of 2014, ending his six-year term two years early. Others retiring are: House: Spencer Bachus, R-AL; Michele Bachmann, R-MN; John Campbell, R-CA; Howard Coble, R-NC; Jim Gerlach, R-PA; Tim Griffin, R-AR; Tom Latham, R-IA; Jim Matheson, D-UT; Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY; Mike McIntyre, D-NC; Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-CA; Bill Owens, D-NY; Jon Runyan, R-NJ; and Henry A. Waxman, D-CA. Senate: Max Baucus, D-MT; Saxby Chambliss, R-GA; Tom Harkin, D-IA; Mike Johanns,

R-NE; Tim Johnson, D-SD; Carl Levin, D-MI; and Jay Rockefeller, D-WV. —By Jessica Klement, Legislative Director

MYTH vs. REALITY Myth: Members of Congress can retire and receive their full salary after serving just a single term.

Reality: Under current congressional retirement plans, members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary. As of October 2012, the average Civil Service Retirement System annual pension for members of Congress was $71,472, and the average Federal Employees Retirement System annual pension for members of Congress was $40,560.

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Washington Watch

narfe bill tracker The NARFE bill TRACKER is your monthly guide to the congressional legislation that NARFE is following. Check back each issue for updates. ISSUE

Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 26: Deferred Benefits Adjustment Act of 2013 / Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, D-NY Cosponsors: 1 (D)


supporting federal employees

H.Res. 388: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives supporting federal employees / Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-OH

Latest Action(s)

Provides for the indexation of deferred annuities, including survivor annuities, and for individuals becoming subject to the Federal Employees Retirement System by election. Terminates the entitlement of a survivor who remarries before age 55 to an annuity based on the service of a deferred annuitant who dies before establishing a valid claim for a Civil Service Retirement System annuity.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Recognizes that the work that federal employees perform should be honored and respected. Outlines several ways Congress should not target federal employees.

Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, and Ways and Means

Makes any person who has a “seriously delinquent tax debt” ineligible for federal employment or to continue serving as a federal employee.

Approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on 3/20/13 Failed to pass the House on 4/15/13

narfe, April 2013, p. 9

narfe, January 2014, p. 10

Cosponsors: 41 (D)

H.R. 249: Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013 / Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT Tax Delinquency

What Bill Would Do

Cosponsors: None

narfe, July 2013, p. 11

Paid Parental Leave

H.R. 517: To provide that four of the 12 weeks of parental leave made available to a federal employee shall be paid leave / Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY Cosponsors: 19 (D)

Pension scam protection


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H.R. 3310: Annuity Safety and Security Under Reasonable Enforcement Act of 2013 / Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-PA Cosponsors: 50 (D)

Allows federal employees to substitute, for four weeks, any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for either the birth of a child or placement of a child for either adoption or foster care.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Requires appropriate disReferred to four House closures regarding “pension committees advance” schemes and caps the interest rates on these narfe, January 2014, p. 11 advances. Also creates a private right of action to allow individuals to enforce these laws in court.


Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 1367: FEHBP Prescription Drug Integrity, Transparency, and Cost Savings Act / Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA Cosponsors: 3 (D)

Health Care

H.R. 1780: To provide that the only health plans available to the president, vice president, members of Congress and federal employees are those created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or offered through a health insurance exchange / Rep. Dave Camp, R-MI

What Bill Would Do

Latest Action(s)

Provides the Office of Personnel Management greater oversight authority over the prescription drug contracting and pricing methods of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). It requires that pharmacy benefit managers return 99 percent of all rebates, market share incentives and other monies received from pharmaceutical manufacturers for FEHBP business and caps prescription drug prices.

Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Removes federal employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and places them in the health exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act.

Referred to the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, and Administration

narfe, June 2013, p. 9

narfe, July 2013, p. 15

Cosponsors: 30 (R) H.R. 3319: Equal Healthcare Access Act / Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA Cosponsors: 1 (D), 8 (R)

Requires the Office of Personnel Management to administer a health insurance plan for nonfederal employees under the existing Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means narfe, January 2014, p. 9

H.R. 1795: Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 / Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL GPO/WEP


Cosponsors: 78 (D), 30 (R)

Repeals both the Government Referred to the Pension Offset (GPO) and the House Committee on Windfall Elimination Provision Ways and Means (WEP).

S. 896: Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 / Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK

Referred to the Senate Finance Committee

Cosponsors: 12 (D), 3 (R), 1 (I)

narfe, July 2013, p. 16

S. 1678: Public-Private EmEliminates the defined-benefit ployee Retirement Parity Act portion of the Federal Em/ Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC ployees Retirement System (FERS), leaving only Social Cosponsors: 2 (R) Security and the Thrift Savings Plan for FERS employees in retirement.

Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs narfe, February 2014, p. 8

(Continued on p. 14) w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Washington Watch

narfe bill tracker (Continued from p. 13) ISSUE

Bill Number / Name / Sponsor H.R. 630: The Postal Service Protection Act / Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR Cosponsors: 167 (D), 7 (R)

What Bill Would Do Eliminates the future retiree health benefit prefunding requirement, protects six-day mail delivery and prevents the closure of rural post offices.

S. 316: The Postal Service Protection Act / Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Cosponsors: 2 (R)

S. 1486: Postal Reform Act / Sen. Tom Carper, D-DE Cosponsors: 1 (R)

Moves the U.S. Postal Service to five-day mail delivery, removes protections for injured workers and eliminates tothe-door delivery in favor of cluster boxes.

Approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on 7/24/13

Threatens integrity of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program by removing postal workers and retirees, cuts workers’ compensation benefits and eliminates Federal Employees Retirement System pension for new hires.

Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs



ndividuals receiving insurance benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their benefits effective March 1 and paid in their April electronic funds transfer. FECA covers individuals who are unable to work due to on-thejob injuries or illnesses. Benefits awarded under FECA receive COLAs based on each calendar year’s change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The December 2013 CPI-W index, 229.174, was 1.5 percent higher


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Referred to House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Cosponsors: 28 (D) H.R. 2748: Postal Reform Act / Rep. Darrell Issa, postal reform R-CA

Latest action(s)

than the December 2012 index, 225.889. (Federal civilian and military retirees, as well as Social Security beneficiaries, receive COLAs based on the third-quarter average index from year to year. They received a 1.5 percent COLA effective in January.) NARFE’s National Convention mandate supports full and timely COLAs based on fair assessments of changes in consumer prices to protect the purchasing power of federal annuities and workers’ compensation. Last year’s FECA COLA was 1.7 percent. (Additional COLA information is available in For the Record, p. 42.)

narfe, February 2014, p. 12

Got email? BY SHARING YOUR EMAIL address with NARFE, you are helping the Association respond quickly when Congress threatens to change your benefits. Become a member of the Rapid Response Team today! Go to, log in, then select “Legislation” in the drop-down menu at the top of the page. The invitation to join the NARFE Rapid Response Team is in the center of the page. Or call NARFE Member Records, toll-free, at 800456-8410 and ask to add your email address to your NARFE membership record. Help us help you!

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Questions & Answers

The following Questions & Answers were compiled by NARFE’s Federal Benefits Service Department staff. NARFE does not provide legal, financial planning, or tax advice or assistance.

employees FSAFEDS is a benefit for employees only


My plans are to retire in 2015, and I want to continue to participate in a flexible spending account (FSA) as a federal retiree. Can I participate in FSAFEDS as a retiree?


The short answer is no; under Internal Revenue Service law, retirees cannot participate in FSAFEDS, the federal government’s flexible spending account program. Flexible spending accounts are an employee benefit that allows employees to contribute a fixed amount of salary on a pretax basis to pay for eligible expenses, including dependent care or uncovered medical expenses. Once you retire and become entitled to a retirement annuity, you cannot consider your annuity as salary. However, your participation in 2015 depends on when you retire during the year. You can enroll in FSAFEDS for 2015 (you must re-


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enroll every year you are eligible) and participate until the date of your retirement. Typically, the amount employees set aside must be determined in advance, and you lose any unspent dollars. So it is important that you carefully calculate your anticipated eligible expenses up to your retirement date because you will not be able to file claims for the expenses you incur after that.

Life insurance status if retirement IS deferred


I am a 57-year-old active federal employee with 24 years of service under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). I plan to leave

government service and postpone applying for my FERS annuity until I am age 60 so that it will not be reduced. I have been enrolled in the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program and covered under my husband’s health insurance for five years (he is a retired federal employee). What happens to my life insurance when I resign?


Employees who postpone, or “defer,” their annuities, lose their health and life insurance when they resign. However, in your case, you may continue your health insurance because your husband has a family plan under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Your human resources office will send you a form allowing you to convert your life insurance policy when you resign. The life insurance group that gives you conversion rights will explain how much the insurance will cost and

the coverage. You may pick up this insurance if you wish. As you know, with more than 20 years of federal service, you can begin receiving your annuity with no age reduction after age 60. About two months before you turn 60, apply for your annuity. The Office of Personnel Management will reinstate your life insurance when your annuity begins.

How to Cancel Life insurance policy


How do I cancel my Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) policy when I retire?

If you want to discontinue your enrollment in FEGLI while you are still employed, you should complete form SF 2817, Life Insurance Election. The cancellation is effective at the end of the pay period in which the agency receives the form. If you want to wait until after you retire, you can cancel or reduce your FEGLI policy at any time. There is no form. The cancellation or reduction request must be made in writing, with an original signature by the insured retiree, and sent to the Office of Personnel Management’s Retirement Office at: U.S. Office of Personnel Management Retirement Operations Center, P.O. Box 45, Boyers, PA 16017-0045. Be sure to include your retirement claim number (CSA) or Social Security Number (SSN) and specify what action you want taken.

CSRS Offset and military service credit


I will be retiring under CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) Offset and want to know at what age I will get credit for my military service under Social Security.


CSRS Offset time is the period in which you were working as a federal civilian and had both civil service retirement deductions withheld from your pay as well as Social Security deductions made. A CSRS Offset retirement is initially computed the same as if you retired under a straight CSRS retirement. Thus, active duty military service time, after you have paid the military deposit, is added to your civilian service in the computation of your annuity. At age 62, when you are first eligible for Social Security benefits (whether you apply for them or not), your annuity will be recomputed to eliminate the civilian service during your offset service years. If you paid your military deposit, the years of creditable military service still will be used for your annuity and for Social Security purposes.


You should use form CMS-1763, Request for Termination of Premium Hospital and/or Supplementary Medical Insurance. Completion of this form is required for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to document your voluntary request for termination of Medicare coverage, as permitted, and to fulfill the Social Security Act requirement that you file a notice advising the administration when terminating Medicare coverage. To obtain this form online, go to and put the form number in the search block.

retirees don’t have premium conversion


I am in the process of doing my taxes and want to know if Federal Employees Health Benefits Program premiums are paid on a pretax basis?


Premiums are paid on a pretax basis (premium conversion) if you are an active employee and your salary is sufficient to make the premium withholding. Pretax premiums are not available to annuitants, survivor annuitants or individuals receiving benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.

retirees Terminating medicare


I no longer live in the United States and want to terminate my Medicare coverage. What form should I use?

survivor benefits and the rehired annuitant


I originally retired under the Civil Service Retirement System in January 2007 and elected a less-than-full

w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Questions & Answers

survivor annuity for my spouse. In January 2010, I became a rehired annuitant and have worked in that capacity for the past four years. Now that my contract is ending, I would like to increase my spouse’s survivor annuity amount. I established the original survivor annuity based on what the health premiums were at the time so that the annuity would cover the premiums. Since then, the premiums have increased in price while the survivor benefit has not kept pace. Before I leave active service again, can I increase my survivor benefit and have an additional amount withheld from my retirement annuity?


There are two ways an agency can hire individuals as re-employed annuitants. The effect on a survivor annuity depends on how you were hired. First, an agency can hire an annuitant with salary offset. These individuals get their full annuity, but their salary is reduced by the amount of the annuity. These individuals are entitled to a supplemental annuity, and spouses automatically receive a portion of that supplement unless the individuals elect not to provide a survivor benefit. Second, an agency can hire annuitants under three different waiver provisions. These individuals receive their full annuity from the Office of Personnel Management and their full salary from the agency. Individuals reemployed under waiver provisions are not entitled to a supplemental annuity and, therefore, may not increase their survivor benefit for a spouse. But don’t forget, whenever your 18

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annuity is increased by a costof-living adjustment (COLA), the amount of the survivor benefit you elected for your spouse also increases. So it may very well be that the COLA increases on the survivor benefit amount have kept up with the increases in Federal Employees Health Benefits Program premiums.

Direct Deposit form


I am helping my mom change the direct deposit for her annuity. I see in your magazine that I should complete form SF-1199A, which is very complicated. I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me regarding the form.


The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a very short form to make a direct deposit. Your mother enters her name and CSA number on the form. Her bank completes the remaining portion of the form with the specific numbers for her account. Since you have email, we will send you a link to the form, RI 38128, which appears on the OPM website,, under Forms. OPM provides a number where you may fax the completed form to them. Most banks will fax these forms to OPM for you using the fax number on the first page of the form.

Withholding FEHBP premium from annuity


Is there a way to contact the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) online to have my Medicare Part B premiums taken out of my annuity?


The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages Medicare Part B premium withholding, so you should contact SSA, not OPM, to have premiums withheld from your annuity. If you are a Civil Service Retirement System retiree and not entitled to Social Security, you can send an email to OPMMailbox@ or visit your local Social Security office and apply to have the premiums withheld. Social Security will send the information to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will notify OPM of the amount to be withheld from your monthly annuity. Depending on the time of the month OPM receives the information from CMS, it may be a couple of months before you see the premiums deducted from your annuity.

Deductible explained


I am not sure I understand the meaning of “deductible” under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).


The deductible is the dollar amount of covered expenses an individual or family must pay out-of-pocket before an FEHBP or FEDVIP plan begins to pay benefits. There may be separate deductibles for different types of services. For example, a plan can have a prescription drug benefit deductible or an outpatient deductible separate from its calendar-year deductible. You should request a plan brochure from both your health plan

NARFE at Your Service and your dental and/or vision plan to read what they say about deductibles.

FEDVIP is separate insurance program


I married and changed my Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) benefits to cover my wife. I thought I also had added her to my dental plan. However, when she went to the dentist, she was informed she was not covered. Why wasn’t she covered?


The Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP)

ROXC3093NARFEtodolistHalfpg.indd1 1

is separate and different from the FEHBP. Enrollees must contact the FEDVIP administrator, BENEFEDS, at 877-888-3337 or go to to make changes. Marriage is a qualifying life event that allows you to change coverage outside Open Season. The change must be submitted from 31 days before to 60 days after the event. To obtain an answer to a federal benefits question, NARFE members should call 703838-7760 and ask for the Federal Benefits Service Department; send your question by postal mail to NARFE Headquarters, ATTN: Federal Benefits; or submit it by email to

NARFE service officers are available to answer questions and to assist in helping with a variety of benefit matters. Check your chapter newsletter for the name and phone number of your service officer. For the nearest service officer, call NARFE (toll-free) at:

800-456-8410. NARFE Service Centers also are available in some areas. Use the Service Center listings on the NARFE website,


11/16/12 5:16:15 PM w w w. n a r f e . o r g 19


Cover Story 20

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To Cut Budgets, Agencies Slash Employee Bonuses and Awards The Presidential Distinguished Rank Awards are the Academy Awards of federal agency employee awards and bonuses. Winners among federal senior executive nominees are chosen by the White House and receive awards of up to 35 percent of their base salaries. Like the Oscars, the Presidential Distinguished Rank Awards for the preceding year are recognized each spring.  But, as of press time, the real drama surrounding the 2013 Presidential Rank Awards was not, like the Oscars, who would win the awards. Rather, the big question was: Will there be any awards at all? 

By David Tobenkin

Illustration by Bill Pragluski, Critical Stages, LLC

w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Employee Bonuses and Awards In June, the Obama administration told reporters that no monetary Presidential Rank Awards would be provided for the year 2013. “The president is committed to recognizing excellence,” an administration official told The Wall Street Journal. “However, in light of the reduced budgetary resources, expending funds on employee performance awards at this time would in many circumstances not be the most effective way to protect agency mission to the extent practicable . . . . we are focused on finding means to acknowledge excellence in nonmonetary ways.” At press time, an informed government source said that the administration was continuing to work to identify a nonmonetary recognition for those

Four types of awards can be given to federal employees: cash awards, honorary awards, informal recognition awards and time-off awards.


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executives recommended for a 2013 Presidential Rank Award. As with nearly every other form of federal employee compensation, bonuses and awards for federal employees have taken a beating over the past few years. And that’s not just true for awards for top executives. As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and agencies seek to save scarce resources to address program budgetary cuts or to avoid the appearance of extravagance in an atmosphere of scarcity, awards to rank-and-file federal employees also have been slashed.

Awards and Bonuses

Awards and bonuses to federal employees come in many forms. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) notes that governmentwide regulations specify four types of awards that can be given to federal employees: cash awards, honorary awards, informal recognition awards and time-off awards. Lump-sum cash awards include those given at the end of a rating period and those given after a particular achievement, such as spot awards. Performance-based cash awards, also commonly known as rating-based awards, are lump-sum cash payments and require only the most recent rating of record as the sole justification for the award. Honorary awards do not provide cash, but they do typically provide something that the recipient could reasonably be expected to value, such as a medal, plaque or public recognition. Informal recognition awards include actions such as mentioning a noteworthy achievement in an agency’s newsletter. Time-off awards speak for themselves.

An Evolving Approach

Faced with budgetary political gridlock and imperatives to reduce government spending, the Obama administration several years ago directed federal agencies to reduce nonmandatory spending, including awards programs. In June 2011, OMB and OPM released a joint directive to federal agencies to curb award and bonus spending. The memo directed aggregate spending caps on agency award spending for fiscal years (FYs) 2011 and 2012 by, first, limiting total spending on individual performance awards for career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and senior-level and scientific and technical (SL/ST) employees to no more than 5 percent of

their respective aggregate salaries, down from a 10 percent cap set by law. It further required that rank-and-file employee bonuses be limited to no more than 1 percent of those employees’ aggregate salaries. Other awards and incentives, such as group awards, referral bonuses or suggestion/invention awards, were frozen at FY 2010 spending levels, except travel savings and foreign language awards. In February 2013, responding to the need for agencies to impose sequestration cost cuts, OMB further directed agencies to eliminate, while sequestration was in place, discretionary bonuses that were not required by law. The resulting impact upon discretionary awards has been dramatic. Cash awards and other nonsalary compensation dropped from $438 million in fiscal year 2011 to $332 million in fiscal year 2012, according to an Asbury Park (NJ) Press analysis of OPM data. “With a severely reduced budget in Fiscal Year 2012, hard decisions had to be made that involved potential furloughs versus bonuses,” says Reginald Wells, the Social Security Administration (SSA) chief human capital officer. Consequently, he says, SSA did not issue any monetary bonuses in that fiscal year other than those that were statutorily required. “We look for as many other ways to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our workforce, such as honorary recognition either at the agency head level or local level, and encourage our managers to find other no-cost creative ways to recognize employees.” Among NARFE members who responded to a narfe magazine survey, some said their agencies had shifted from cash awards to time-off awards, given the OMB/OPM limits and the sequester. But last November, a new OMB/OPM memo on discretionary awards and bonuses in FY 2014 took a more restrained tack. While the memorandum retained the 5 percent and 1 percent bonus caps described above, it eliminated the February 2013 ban on discretionary awards. Instead, it called for bonus reductions by an amount tied to any overall governmentwide funding cuts. In addition, it directed agencies to not exceed FY 2012 spending levels on either category of awards. “I think the most recent memo rebalances things a bit from either extreme,” says Ronald

Sanders, a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton who consults with federal agencies on human capital issues. “On the one hand, going back to what was done in earlier years is not appropriate given budget cuts and sequestration; on the other hand, the memo also reflects a realization that an absolute ban is just as bad and there is a need to give agencies discretion to award high performers.”

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish?

Bonuses and awards for federal employees pale compared to those available in much of the private sector, but they still matter. “Federal bonuses are not so large as to serve as a motivating factor, but they can serve as a way to let employees know, ‘we see your contributions and we appreciate them and we are distinguishing you from coworkers who are not performing as well,’ ” Sanders says. “If you cancel all bonuses, you do run the risk of demotivating high performers, who look to such recognition as a matter of performance equity.” He and others say this can already be seen in OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results, with 2013 responses showing a significant drop in federal employee satisfaction, with particularly low agency scores when it comes to recognizing differences in performance. Nearly as many survey respondents had negative responses as positive responses to the statement that “awards in my work unit depended on how well employees perform their jobs” (37.7 percent positive to 36.0 percent negative), for example. Many NARFE members responding to the narfe magazine survey said that curtailment of awards at their agencies had reduced morale. “All incentive awards have been completely discontinued [at her division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)],” says Lynn Galle, an assistant in the IRS’ Chicago office and a 45-year veteran of the agency. “Morale, performance, going ‘above and beyond’ and motivation have suffered greatly.” While OPM limits only the aggregate amounts for agency awards, allowing an agency to theoretically award a much larger amount to a few employees, the reality is that many agencies tend to allocate similar award amounts to employees receiving the same rating. Bestowing awards fairly is not easy and often results in a formulaic awards approach to ensure consistency, notes w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Employee Bonuses and Awards Shelby Hallmark, a former SES member at the Department of Labor, where he supervised as many as 1,800 employees. “At one point, I had 25 SESers reporting to me, and I had to make decisions on their awards, which made for tense and emotion-laden activity,” Hallmark says. “People always think that they have done an outstanding job. If you say, ‘yes, but…’ it is deflating. Most people are in the middle, and the emotional effect of not getting an award can be great. I also found wrangling around the margins was not worth going through all the effort. To reduce those vibes, we established a straightforward calculus where, depending on the rating, you could figure out the bonus. That took a lot of the subjectivity out of it. We did the same for rank-and-file employees, too.” Awards also reflect the leverage and skills of union negotiators who, in some cases, have negotiated substantial awards programs in the context of collective bargaining. The IRS in July 2013 announced it was cancelling some, and would attempt to cancel other, employee bonuses for union workers, nonunion workers, managers and executives. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) at the time told The Associated Press that it believed the bonuses were legally required under its collective bargaining agreement because NTEU had had a negotiated performance awards program. In February, the IRS and NTEU reached a settlement in which IRS employees could receive bonuses for FY 2013 up to the 1 percent of salaries OMB/OPM limit, rather than up to the higher, previously negotiated amount of 1.75 percent of salaries.

Privately funded awards are available to federal employees. Some agencies also have created extensive nonmonetary awards programs. 24

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Awards and bonuses for members of the Senior Executive Service and their equivalents constitute a special case. Their compensation was designed to be based upon a pay-for-performance model, with bonuses and awards intended to be a much larger component of their compensation. This offsets the greater risk (in the form of fewer employment protections) that comes with an SES appointment. For them, the administration’s reduction of the funds available for SES performance awards, from a legal maximum of 10 percent of aggregate salary to a maximum of 5 percent, represents a 50 percent reduction in available pay-for-performance funding. Senior Executives Association (SEA) President Carol Bonosaro says the awards funding reduction contradicts OPM regulations governing the SES that require agencies to make meaningful distinctions in performance ratings and the performance awards that result. She warns that cancelling performance awards may have the effect of jeopardizing OPM certification of agencies’ SES performance management systems – which would further weaken pay for performance and the attractiveness of the SES to GS-15 employees. Bonosaro says the SEA is pushing back. “A number of [federal] departments that made decisions about who should get awards in 2012 were refusing to pay awards, and we put pressure on them and on OPM, and they eventually paid the awards, as they realized they otherwise wouldn’t get certified [by OPM as having a pay-for-performance system that meets statutory and regulatory criteria],” Bonosaro says. “We had to do that with the Department of Transportation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of the Interior, the Social Security Administration and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”  

Different Awards Programs    

A variety of awards programs are available to federal employees. One is the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies), presented annually by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. The Sammies pay tribute to America’s dedicated federal workforce, highlighting those who have made significant contributions to the country in one of eight award categories. In addition to accepting a crystal and marble trophy at a gala black-tie dinner in Wash-

ington, DC, with media present, award winners also receive a cash award ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on their category. However, no taxpayer money is used for the Sammies, which are funded through corporate and individual donors. Some agencies also have created extensive nonmonetary awards programs, such as an Office of the Director of National Intelligence program in which Intelligence Community (IC) employees have been awarded prestigious military-style medals. “The medals and other awards are very motivating and coveted – every bit as big a deal as a four-star general pinning a medal on a soldier,” Sanders says. “The program covers both military and civilian members of the IC and includes, for example, an Intelligence Cross that was the equivalent of the Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as a Medal of Valor for acts of heroism. There have been plenty awarded, mostly on a classified basis.” Some say the payoff for awards programs is all a matter of perspective and, in no small part, reflects agency presentation. An inclusive approach toward honoring employees at NASA has helped in that respect, as reflected in its employees’ evaluation of the agency as a good place to work, says John Palguta, vice president at the Partnership for Public Service. He says that after NASA won the Partnership for Public Service’s 2013 first place award for Best Place to Work in the Federal Government, and NASA’s south Mississippi-based John C. Stennis Space Center won the second-highest ranking for agency subcomponent, NASA officials ask employees to take photos of the award and their colleagues at their job sites at each of the NASA Centers, at headquarters and even in the International Space Station to reinforce to employees that they are the reason that NASA is a Best Place to work. “The purpose of any recognition program is to acknowledge the amazing contributions of the people who accomplish your mission every day,” says Jeri Buchholz, NASA’s chief human capital officer. “I think sometimes we get too caught up in the cash. Recent experience has taught us that a broader recognition portfolio – one we can control – has huge advantages. What was unique about our employee ‘selfies’ campaign [of employ-

ees with the Best Place to Work plaques] was that it was driven by the workforce themselves in an expression of pride in their work.” Others say nonmonetary awards can fall short. “As a long-time supervisor, I have found that employees really appreciate real-world awards such as quality step increases [which raise employees up a step on the General Schedule (GS) based upon superior performance] and cash awards, even when the amount of the award is relatively small,” says a program manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who responded to the narfe magazine survey. “If one of my employees gets one of those awards, he or she knows several things: first, that I actually notice and care about the quality of his or her work; second, that I took the time to write up the award nomination; third, that I put my neck on the line to push for approval up the line; and fourth, that because of my efforts, people up the line are aware of him or her and his or her achievements. On the other hand, my employees generally see certificates, plaques, etc., for what they are – attempts by management to raise morale with cheap and meaningless gestures.” As for the fate of the 2013 Presidential Rank Awards honoring senior federal executives, in years past, names of potential winners were provided by agencies to OPM, which made recommendations to the president as to which of them deserved awards, both steps that are required by statute, with final selections made by the president on a discretionary basis, and subsequent notification to the Senior Executives Association by January to allow it to prepare its banquet to honor awardees from the previous year, Bonosaro said in late December. “My understanding is that agency names [for selection by the White House] did go to the White House,” Bonosaro says. “I think that cancelling [at least the monetary aspects of] the Presidential Rank Awards for the first time since 1980 sends an unfortunate and demoralizing message to career executives.” It is also unclear what, if anything, will happen to the Presidential Rank Awards in 2014, Bonosaro says, since, under normal circumstances, the call for nominations already would have been issued. —David Tobenkin is a freelance writer based in the greater Washington, DC, area. w w w. n a r f e . o r g




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By William Matthews

Temporary & Seasonal

Workers: A Permanent Reality of Today’s Federal Workforce

Last fall, Amber Kostoff completed her 11th season as a wilderness ranger in the Payette National Forest.

She works six months a year amid Western Idaho’s rugged snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear mountain lakes, maintaining hiking trails, cleaning up campsites, even shoeing the horses and mules that pack U.S. Forest Service supplies into the back country. “I love this job,” Kostoff says of her seasonal post. She relishes not being tied to an office; she sees genuine value in preserving wilderness; and she enjoys living in the picturesque resort town of McCall, ID.

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Temporary & Seasonal

“It’s amazing, because if you had asked me when I was starting out if I would still be doing this job, I would have said, ‘No way!’ ” She started as a college student, landing a summer job on the Payette weed crew. “You either pull up weeds or spray them with chemicals,” Kostoff explains about that earlier experience. She moved up from there – to trail and campsite maintenance, patrolling forest roads, as a docent to park visitors, training newer seasonal workers and, more recently, taking care of the horses and mules. Kostoff says she has been trying for years to parlay her seasonal work into a permanent job with the Forest Service. She even returned to college and earned a Master of Science degree in natural resources in 2012 in the hope of landing a full-time job. But so far, no luck. RETURNING RETIREES AND TEMPS GET THE SHORT END Tom Tidwell, too, started out as a seasonal worker for the Forest Service − first as a firefighter, then in a variety of temporary jobs. But unlike Kostoff, Tidwell was able to jump into a permanent position. Three decades later, in 2009, he became chief of the Forest Service. Each year, the U.S. government hires about 200,000 temporary and seasonal workers – from park rangers to mail sorters to tax examiners. Many take the jobs hoping they lead to permanent government positions. Others, including students and sometimes teachers, seek seasonal federal jobs for summer income. For retirees, temporary and seasonal work can augment retirement income. But temporary workers and employment experts advise that applicants for such positions should know what they’re getting into. Competition for some of the jobs is fierce. Opportunities to move into full-time work are limited, and benefits are largely nonexistent. For federal retirees, the salary offsets required in many cases could consume entire paychecks. Nonetheless, the jobs and job seekers abound. There’s an annual rush at the Internal Revenue Service, which each year hires thousands of seasonal data transcribers, clerks, 28

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tax examiners and others to process the 230 million tax returns that begin pouring in late in January. For the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), hiring picks up in the fall when thousands of temporary workers are brought on to sort and deliver the annual tsunami of Christmas cards, packages and advertisements. At the National Park Service (NPS), it happens each spring. NPS brings on about 7,000 seasonal workers in advance of the summer swarm of visitors to the national parks, says NPS workforce chief David Vela. The Forest Service, meanwhile, hires twice that many, most of them to fight wildfires. The Census Bureau hires an army of temporary employees every 10 years to count the nation’s population. In 2010, it added more than 800,000 temporary enumerators, field representatives and clerical workers. In other years, the Census Bureau brings in smaller batches of temps to conduct other surveys. Last fall, for instance, the Bureau hired 525 temp workers in New York to conduct a city housing and vacancy survey. For the most part, these are not high-salary jobs. At the National Park Service, Vela says the temporary and seasonal jobs are mostly entry-level GS-3 to GS-7 positions that pay $10.46 to $16.28 an hour. And the Park Service website cautions that “most temporary seasonal positions require irregular hours of work, including weekends, holidays and evenings.” Yet the jobs are attractive. “The variety of positions available may surprise you: park rangers, fee collectors, park guides, park naturalists, law enforcement rangers,” the Park Service website says. And the hiring process “is very competitive,” Vela adds. “We get many hundreds of applications for every job.” And many of the jobs go to experienced temporary employees who return to the Park Service year after year. The USPS, which lost $16 billion in 2012 and $5 billion in 2013, is turning increasingly to part-time and “nontraditional full-time” workers as a way to cut costs. By mid-2013,

the number of part-time and temporary USPS workers had risen to 123,000 − up by 25,000 in less than a year − according to the Postal Regulatory Commission. Meanwhile, the fulltime postal workforce had fallen to 494,000 − down from nearly 729,000 in 2003. The USPS hopes to shed another 150,000 employees by 2015, the postal inspector general reported last June. And it plans to replace at least some of the departing full-time workers with part-timers. BIG CHANGES IN THE LABOR POOL “We implemented big changes in our labor pool,” Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe told The Wall Street Journal in December. “Twenty percent of all our employees today are noncareer flexibles” – that’s Postal Service jargon for part-time and temporary workers. Their ranks have increased by 8 percent since 2011. “We’ve saved billions of dollars there,” Donahoe said. Other agencies also see the potential for savings through greater use of temporary workers. “The normal course is that when you have a vacancy, you hire to fill that vacancy,” says Vela of the Park Service. But as federal agencies confront budget cuts and fiscal uncertainty, “a lot of managers are looking at how we can fill jobs with temporary, seasonal and term employees and still get the work done.” These days, “the workforce picture is very dynamic.” Managers might decide to hold off filling permanent positions for several years in order to maintain budget flexibility, Vela says. “It’s a new dynamic we find ourselves in, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It forces us to look at alternatives to ensure that the taxpayer gets the best return on investment.” As for the workers, “it might provide more opportunities for ‘seasonals.’ ” But how good are those jobs? At the Postal Service, where temporary workers are known as “postal support employees” or PSEs, there are no daily or weekly work-hour guarantees, according to USPS. Instead, when PSEs are scheduled to work,

Each year, the U.S. government hires about 200,000 temporary and seasonal workers. they are assured of at least two hours of pay. According to the American Postal Workers Union, PSEs can receive union-negotiated pay raises, annual leave and access to a grievance process. After working for a year, they are eligible for health insurance, and they have a path to becoming full-time postal workers if they can pass a postal entrance exam. Temporary employees at other federal agencies aren’t as fortunate. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), seasonal and temporary employees receive almost none of the benefits provided to full-time government employees: no retirement benefits; no health insurance (unless they pay for it themselves); no life insurance; no periodic step increases in pay; no protection against adverse actions such as suspensions, demotions, furloughs or firings; and no special consideration when permanent jobs become available. And for retired federal workers, the government temp work picture is positively bleak. By law, federal salaries must be reduced by as much as retirees’ annuity payments, except under certain waiver provisions. “If your retirement is $50,000 and you get a job that pays $100,000, they will subtract your annuity from your salary,” says Reg Jones, a former assistant director at OPM. For the $100,000 job, a retired employee’s salary would be cut to $50,000. w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Temporary & Seasonal

So whether it is temporary or seasonal work, in most instances “you can’t afford to take the job; essentially, you would work for free,” Jones says. “To make it work, you would have to find a job that pays more than your annuity.” A lot more. To many workers, employee organizations and unions, increasing reliance on seasonal and temporary employees puts another obstacle in the path to prized full-time, careercaliber federal jobs. But to federal managers, greater use of seasonal, temporary and parttime jobs provides flexibility. They have employees when they’re needed and can dismiss them when they’re not. A PERMANENT UNDERCLASS OF FEDERAL WORKERS Managers mention “flexibility” a lot. “It’s the new F word,” says former Forest Service firefighter Mark Davis. To Davis, now vice president of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), a national union representing 110,000 blue- and white-collar employees, the workforce flexibility that federal managers crave is a bad deal for temporary and seasonal workers. It creates

Federal managers say use of temporary and seasonal workers provides flexibility. 30

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“a permanent underclass” of federal workers, he says. That’s how Jason Hendrickson sees it, too. After nine years as a seasonal wildland firefighter for the Forest Service, he’s about ready to call it quits. “I wanted to make a career of it. I wanted a permanent position with all of the benefits of being a regular government employee.” But permanent firefighter positions have proven elusive, in part, Hendrickson says, because federal personnel rules “don’t recognize your experience as a temp.” “Currently, regardless of how many seasons they serve, temporary employees cannot compete for permanent jobs under the merit promotion procedures available to other federal employees,” explains NFFE’s Davis. A DOOR IN THE FACE, NOT A FOOT IN THE DOOR “A lot of temp employees took temporary jobs to get a foot in the door,” only to find that “they are stuck in temporary jobs with little hope of advancing,” Davis says. “They can apply for permanent jobs, just like anyone else off the street, but their experience and background” as temporary workers don’t count in their favor, he says. That peculiarity caught the attention of Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-VA, whose Northern Virginia congressional district is replete with federal employees. In 2013, Connolly and Rep. Don Young, R-AK, proposed legislation to enable temporary government workers to compete under the merit promotion system for permanent positions. That change in rules would give temporary workers “a realistic opportunity to advance their careers,” Connolly says. So far, the legislation has not passed. There are other career roadblocks for temps. “Agencies do not have authority to convert employees serving under temporary appointments to permanent appointments,” Angela Bailey, OPM’s chief operating officer, told a congressional subcommittee examining federal policies that govern temporary workers.

LITTLE INCENTIVE TO STAY So for Hendrickson, it has been a frustrating nine seasons. After starting on an engine crew, he worked his way up, serving on elite hotshot crews and finally helitack crews that fly to remote sites by helicopter to fight wildfires. For seasonal firefighters, “you’re either working 100 hours a week or you’re unemployed,” Hendrickson says. “Out-of-state assignments are common,” so he is sometimes away from home for weeks at a time. “These are tough jobs usually performed in primitive, backcountry conditions,” the Forest Service warns. “It is essential that firefighters be in top physical condition for this demanding work.” Hendrickson is. When he’s not fighting fires during the summer, he runs marathons.

Because of the danger involved in wildland firefighting – and because of pressure from firefighters and Congress – in 2012, OPM changed the health insurance rules so that seasonal wildland firefighters now are covered. But they still have no retirement pensions, no job security and scant possibilities of obtaining permanent status. Pay is $15 an hour, Hendrickson says. At 40 hours a week, that’s $15,600 for six months’ work, but Hendrickson says that with overtime he can earn $35,000 in a fire season. “I do really enjoy the work,” Hendrickson says. But the seemingly permanent status as a temporary worker drives many away. “Anyone with other options leaves. There’s no incentive to stay. A lot of us feel taken advantage of.” —William matthews is a freelance writer based in virginia.

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Special Section


Navigating Through a Changing Campaign Finance Landscape


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he campaign finance landscape is a dynamic and changing one. Large, so-called “super PACs” (political action committees) are exerting continually increasing influence. And low-cost Internet fundraising provides an additional avenue to generate the funds necessary to run campaigns and win elections. Amidst all of this change, political action committees like NARFE-PAC remain an important part of the equation for most congressional candidates. However, the emergence of these alternative campaign funding sources requires that we strengthen NARFE-PAC, both through increased revenues and more targeted distribution, just to keep up. Traditional Political Action Committees Campaign finance laws prohibit direct contributions to congressional campaign funds by both for-profit and nonprofit corporations, associations and unions. So, political action committees provide the preferred, legal means of allowing groups of people associated with a particular company, nonprofit association or union to combine their resources to support particular campaigns. PACs require that the voluntary donations made explicitly for political purposes be separated (or “segregated”) from the general funds of the organization. While general funds may be used to administer PACs, no general fund money may be distributed to candidates. Many corporate PACs raise money through large donations of $1,000 or more from their highest paid employees and executives (up to an annual limit of $5,000). But NARFE-PAC has prided itself on its ability to combine thousands of smaller donations. In this way, there are a lot more voters behind any NARFE-PAC disbursement than would occur from a corporation’s PAC. That has a downside, too. NARFE-PAC has always faced challenges from relying on many small donations, rather than a few large ones. Super PACs With the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission on January 10, 2010, the gap between the influence of a small number of individuals, such as a corporate PAC, and associations of many individuals, such as NARFE-PAC, has increased greatly. (We say this without making a judgment on the merits of the court’s decision.) Campaign finance laws limit the amount a traditional PAC can contribute to a congressional candidate’s campaign fund to $5,000 per election (primary and general). These limits apply to both

corporate PACs that combine a small number of large donations, as well as NARFE-PAC. There are also limits on how much individuals and traditional PACs can contribute to political parties and political party committees, such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Before the Citizens United decision, most campaign spending for such things as those annoying – but obviously effective – ads you see on TV, came from candidates’ campaign funds or from the political parties or party committees, donations to which are limited by campaign finance law. If an association wanted to spend money on a TV ad that endorsed a particular candidate, that money was considered a campaign contribution and was subject to the limits on contributions to a candidate’s campaign. Outside groups were limited to running so-called “issue ads” that did not make any endorsement of a particular candidate. In the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court ruled that it was an unconstitutional restriction of the freedom of speech to prevent associations, corporations or unions from spending their own money on ads supporting or opposing candidates for office. While there are still limits on how much a group can give to a campaign committee to use on ads itself, there are no limits on how much a group can spend directly on ads supporting or opposing a candidate. This allows individuals to give millions of dollars to super PACs or political action committees established for the purpose of making these independent expenditures. Super PACs, such as the “Restore Our Future” PAC, which was formed to support the election of Mitt Romney, or the “Priorities USA” PAC, which was formed to support the re-election of Barack Obama, are supposed to be independently run. That is, neither Romney nor Obama should have had control over how those PACs spent their money. But to think that there’s no coordination w w w. n a r f e . o r g



Show Off Your NARFE-PAC Pride! NARFE recognizes generous NARFE-PAC donors based on the following contribution levels (made over the course of the 2013-2014 election cycle): $20 Basic Level 2013-2014 NARFE-PAC lapel pin (red, white and blue) $50 Silver Level 2013-2014 NARFE-PAC lapel pin $100 Gold Level 2013-2014 NARFE-PAC lapel pin, plus a blue NARFE Leader baseball cap. Additionally, members who sign up for monthly credit card contributions of $10 or more receive the gold level pin and a blue NARFE-PAC Leader baseball cap. If you are just now signing up for monthly credit card contributions of $10 or more, you also will receive a NARFE-PAC Sustainer pin. In addition to giving using the envelope on the cover wrap of this issue or the NARFEPAC coupon that appears regularly in narfe magazine, NARFE members can give online at the NARFE website,, or at chapter meetings. (Chapter-level NARFEPAC officers may request supplies of the Basic Level [$20] NARFE-PAC pin to promote contributions at chapter meetings. Because of limited supplies, the caps and the Silver, Gold and Sustainer pins will be distributed primarily from NARFE Headquarters.) or connection between campaigns and PACs in these situations, even if done within the bounds of the law, would be naive. Unsurprisingly, Citizens United has led to the growth of direct spending on campaign communications by outside groups – that is, organizations or associations that are not candidate campaign committees or political party committees. While outside groups spent money before the 2010 Citizens United decision on issue ads and other campaign efforts, such as get-out-thevote drives, total spending by outside groups increased from about $338 million in the 2008 election to more than $1 billion in the 2012 election, according to an analysis, “Total Outside Spending by Election Cycle,” by Internet Fundraising Candidates also have been taking advantage of the lower costs of soliciting small donations from millions of people through the Internet. Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination for president demonstrated the potential of Internet fundraising, and it became an essential part of Barack Obama’s campaign financing strategy in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Now, any candidates running for office are sure to include Internet fundraising as part of their campaign financing. However, lower profile candidates, like many 34

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running for seats in the House of Representatives, tend to have a more difficult time raising substantial sums of money this way, as they do not have the same name recognition as presidential candidates or higher profile Senate candidates. NARFE-PAC in a Changing World Despite the emergence of super PACs and the growth of Internet fundraising, congressional candidates still rely on traditional PACs, such as NARFE-PAC, to fund substantial parts of their campaigns. Additionally, in contrast to ads run on their behalf by super PACs, when candidates use money provided through traditional PAC contributions, they are better able to control their message – thus, traditional PAC money is more valuable to them. And even though Internet fundraising is low-cost, it has higher costs than soliciting contributions from PACs, which bear the burden of the cost of raising funds from their members. NARFE-PAC is operating in a more crowded field of campaign funds than it has before. To rise above the fray, it needs the continued, generous support of NARFE members. A strong NARFE-PAC is the leverage we need to build and maintain relationships between NARFE and current and future members of Congress. —By John Hatton, deputy legislative director

NARFE-PAC: Questions and Answers What is NARFE-PAC? NARFE-PAC is a separate, segregated fund of the Association comprised only of voluntary contributions from NARFE members specifically for political purposes. There can be no commingling of monies contributed to NARFE-PAC and other monies of the Association (membership dues or other nondues revenue). The four elected national officers of NARFE constitute NARFE’s Political Action Committee (NARFE-PAC). The Committee is responsible for the final decision on which candidates for the House and Senate will receive NARFE-PAC contributions. How does NARFE-PAC decide to whom to give money? NARFE-PAC aims to provide money where it is most effective by supporting candidates, including incumbents, who are supportive of NARFE’s agenda and will be able to influence congressional action positively on our behalf. In order to determine this, we consider the following: • Voting record on NARFE issues, or candidate questionnaires for nonincumbents; • Recommendations from federation PAC coordinators, with input from local chapters, regarding whether the candidate is paying attention to NARFE-member concerns; • Committee assignments and leadership posts; • Electability. All else being equal, NARFE-PAC also focuses on competitive races, where the money is more important for electoral success, than in uncompetitive seats.

eration conventions is encouraged. However, due to campaign finance laws, if the collection is made at a chapter or federation meeting, the individual contributions to NARFE-PAC cannot be consolidated and sent to NARFE Headquarters in the form of a chapter or federation account check. Personal checks payable to NARFE-PAC can be sent directly to Headquarters, while cash contributions collected at a meeting can be consolidated into a single cashier’s check or money order. Accompanying the contributions must be a roster with the name of the event at which the contributions were made (chapter meeting), the date of the meeting, the name (and membership ID# if possible) of the donor and amount given, along with the total amount collected. Is there anything we should know before we discuss NARFE-PAC with a member of Congress or congressional candidate? Yes. Campaign contributions may not be given in exchange for official acts or promises of official acts by the candidate. Money is NOT given in exchange for votes, cosponsoring any bills or any other official act. Also, do not discuss PAC contributions at all with congressional staff or candidates when at their congressional offices, as staff and legislators are conducting official government duties while within these government-owned buildings.

NARFE-PAC by the numbers 11,416 NARFE members contributed to NARFE-PAC

in 2013.

31,636 NARFE members contributed to NARFE-

Is NARFE-PAC required to make disbursements to congressional candidates from a particular state based on the dollar amount of NARFE-PAC contributions received from NARFE members in that state? No. NARFE-PAC is a national PAC and is not designed to have parity between the amount of money received from NARFE members in a state and NARFE-PAC disbursements made to candidates in that state. NARFE-PAC pools the voluntary contributions from NARFE members throughout the country to create one unified PAC.


Can we collect money for NARFE-PAC at a chapter meeting or federation convention? Yes. Collecting money at chapter meetings and fed-

2011-12 election cycle. Please give what you can, whether below or above the average. Every dollar counts!

PAC during the 2011-12 election cycle. Help us surpass last cycle’s total by giving now!

$329,363.25 was contributed to NARFE-PAC in $991,434.12

was contributed to NARFE-PAC during the 2011-12 election cycle. Help us beat last cycle’s total by giving now!

$28.85 was the average contribution in 2013. $31.34 was the average contribution during the

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Managing Money

Home sale qualifies for a big tax break


f you haven’t sold a home recently, you may not be aware of what might be the biggest tax break around – the capital gains exclusion on the sale of a home. And

considering that many individuals sell their home at some point, whether it’s to downsize, to relocate to a warmer climate or to move into a senior care facility, you should understand this tax break.

If you own a home, it’s generally considered a capital asset and subject to capital gains taxes when sold for a profit. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides a $250,000 exclusion ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) on the gain resulting from the sale of a home. To be eligible for this exclusion, the home you sell must be your principal residence (the IRS calls this your “main home”), not the Florida home you escape to in the winters. If you do have multiple homes, the IRS generally considers your main home to be the one you spend the most time in; however, there are a number of relevant factors when determining which of your homes is considered to be your main home. There is also an ownership and use test, which requires you to have owned and used the home as your principal residence for at least two out of the five years preceding the date 36

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of sale. The rules for married couples can be quirky, and it’s important to understand the ownership and use test applies separately to both spouses in a marriage, which can be especially tricky for those just entering the bliss of matrimony.

By Mark A. Keen,


The two years for the use test do not need to be consecutive, but the IRS tightened the rules to prevent people from gaming the system in order to avert taxes on homes not used solely as a principal residence. For example, a property owner used to be able to convert a rental property he or she had owned and rented for years into his or her primary residence, live in it for two years, sell it and exclude any gain up to the applicable limits. Not anymore. The capital gains exclusion is prorated and disallowed for any nonqualified use occurring

A recent change gives surviving spouses up to two years to sell their home and still get the full exclusion. Special rules apply for military service members, Foreign Service personnel and those in the intelligence community. The rules effectively extend the five years to 10 years. Generally, an individual, or either spouse in a married couple, may use this exclusion only once every two years. If you fail to meet these requirements, you still may be eligible for a partial exemption if you’re selling due to a change in employment, for health reasons or for other unforeseen circumstances.

after 2009 – that is, any period the home was not used as the primary residence. Interestingly, nonqualified use does not include any portion of the five-year period that is after the last date the property was used as a primary residence. For example, a property owner still can use the home as the primary residence for the first two years, turn it into a rental for the next three years, sell the property, and exclude any gain up to the applicable limits. Another more recent change

FINANCIAL TOOLS NARFE offers an online retirement calculator and other financial planning tools. Find out more at federalbenefits.

provides relief to a surviving spouse who was entitled to the $500,000 exclusion for married couples only if he or she sold the home in the same year the deceased spouse died. However, a surviving spouse now has up to two years following the date of the deceased spouse’s death to sell the home and still be eligible for the full $500,000 exclusion. When selling your house, it’s the amount of gain

that determines any tax consequence. In a nutshell, your gain is equal to the amount you sold your home for, minus certain selling expenses, minus the cost of your home. This is where keeping meticulous records can pay off – literally, because the cost of your home not only includes what you originally paid for the home, but certain other expenses, such as any qualifying home improvements you made over the years as well. The rules can get complicated in many circumstances, so if you plan on selling a home, be sure to consult a tax professional. You may also find additional information in IRS Publication 523. Mark A. Keen, CFP®, is partner, Keen & Pocock, 10300 Eaton place, Fairfax, VA, and an investment adviser representative and registered principal of The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Securities and advisory services are offered through SFA. Email:

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The Informed Citizen

Model Employer?


he first civil service retirement system won enactment a decade and a half before the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935. It was created and remains a defined-benefit program to provide monthly income to qualifying retirees. Since 1920, this program, the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), has served as a model for other employers. This is especially the case for large employers looking to employ and retain the most motivated workers. The second pillar of civil service retirement, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), was enacted during the Eisenhower administration, incorporating features of the best plans in the private sector. With the FEHBP, the federal government again served as a model to be emulated. FEHBP coverage of annuitants predated Medicare by half a decade. Within a few years, the FEHBP became the largest employersponsored health care plan. Fast forward some 50 years, and the FEHBP’s managed competition between many private insurance plans served, in part, as the template for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Social Security overhaul in the 1980s made Social Security coverage mandatory for newly hired feds. This created the need to revise the Civil Service Retirement System. The bipartisan authors of the second civil service retirement system, the Federal Employees Retirement System or FERS, were bent


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on retaining the proud claim of the government as a model employer. With substantial NARFE input, lawmakers devised a plan combining social insurance, a smaller defined benefit and a new retirement savings plan, the Thrift Savings Plan or TSP. Again, the new feature was modeled on best practices of privatesector 401(k) plans. Thus, FERS is similar to the earlier system, providing lifetime retirement income and health care insurance for qualifying retirees, while also providing a more portable plan allowing for labor mobility. Despite the success of CSRS and FERS, including emulation by emerging nations, there are pending legislative proposals to create a third retirement system within the federal service by ending the defined benefit for new hires. Free-standing Senate legislation (S. 1678) and a provision in legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service (S. 1486) would end the defined benefit for future hires while grandfathering existing employees. These

By Christopher Farrell, Legislative Representative

new hires would be covered only by Social Security and the TSP. However, other proposals, including some enacted into law, have created three distinct FERS employee-contribution rates – .8 percent (hired prior to 2013), 3.1 percent (hired in 2013) and 4.4 percent (hired in 2014 and, presumably, beyond) of salary – for the exact same defined benefit. Retiring members of Congress – including NARFE champions Reps. Frank R. Wolf, R-VA; James P. Moran, D-VA; George Miller, D-CA; Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY; Bill Owens, D-NY; and Henry A. Waxman, D-CA – are taking with them institutional memory, including knowledge of and confidence in defined-benefit plans such as CSRS and FERS. During this election year, it will be up to NARFE to educate newer members and the hundreds of candidates about civil service generally and civil service retirement in particular. NARFE members are hugely proud of their federal service. Our task is to tell the stories of that service and the reciprocation of a once model employer. Further information about FERS is available on Open CRS, a website that consolidates reports from the Congressional Research Service. The address for the FERS information is 98-972/2011-01-11/.

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Alzheimer’s Update

NARFE Awards four new research grants


ne of the duties of the NARFE-Alzheimer’s National Committee is to decide each year which research proposals will be awarded grants using funds donated by

NARFE members. In fiscal year 2013, NARFE members donated $561,871.68 for Alzheimer’s research. On behalf of NARFE members, the committee awarded four grants totaling $533,656 at our recent annual meeting at the Alzheimer’s Association’s national office in Chicago, IL. The balance of the money will be carried over for next year’s grants. Following are the researchers who were awarded grants, the grant amounts and a description of the proposed studies: • Fernando Goni, Ph.D., New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY; $233,960 over three years: “Conformational Directed Immunotherapy Targeting Both Tau and ABeta Pathology.” Goni and colleagues have developed a new type of vaccine component that recognizes both tau and beta-amyloid. The goal of this research is to determine if the new vaccine component prevents the development of Alzheimer’s-like brain changes, or reduces such changes after they have already formed. These studies are the first step in determining if the new vaccine component warrants clinical trials in humans. • Stephen J. Haggarty, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; $99,999 over two years: “HDAC1 Acti-


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vating Compounds as a Novel Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Disease.” Can a series of drug-like compounds protect nerve cells and prevent nerve cell death by activating HDAC1? HDAC1 (histone

By Jane rodgers NARFE-alzheimer’s Chair

cell death similar to that found in people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. These studies may lead to the development of new drug candidates for testing in humans to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. • Sara Gregory, Ph.D., Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT; $99,697 over two years: “Exercise Training and the Hippocampus in Subjects with Dementia Risk.” What are the effects of an exercise training program on the hippocampus and brain function in people who have at least one parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease?

This brings the total number of NARFEfunded research grants to 60 since the program began in 1985. deacetylase 1) is a protein found inside nerve cells that helps protect nerve cells from death; it does so by repairing damage to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Haggarty and colleagues have developed a series of drug-like compounds that increase the activity of HDAC1. They will use chemical techniques to create different forms of their druglike compounds and test them for their ability to protect nerve cells. The researchers will use mice that have been genetically altered to experience nerve

The researchers will study 18 people, half of whom will participate in the exercise program while the other half do not. The exercise program will last six months, and during that time the researchers will measure fitness levels, brain function using cognitive tests and hippocampal volume using brain imaging. This study will help to determine if exercise training is a valuable way to slow or prevent declines in hippocampal function in people who have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

IN_NARFE_March2014.indd 1

fragment linked to Alzheimer’s disease, from its longer parent molecule. Yao and colleagues will test this hypothesis using cultured brain cells and mice engineered to develop both CAA and Alzheimer’slike symptoms. The results of their effort could shed new light on how blood vessel damage and brain dysfunction are linked. These new grants bring the total number of NARFE-funded research projects to 60 since the program began in 1985. With your continued help, we will achieve a world without Alzheimer’s. Jane Rodgers is chair of the NARFE-Alzheimer’s National Committee. email: Her column appears quarterly.

Mail to: NARFE, Attn: Member Records, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1914 or Call Toll-Free 800-456-8410

• Hailan Yao, Ph.D., Roskamp Foundation IRRV Trust, Sarasota, FL; $100,000 over two years: “Novel Mechanisms of BACE1 in Alzheimer’s Vascular Pathogenesis.” Do elevated activity levels of caspase and BACE1 initiate the blood vessel wall damage that leads to cerebral amyloid angiography (CAA) and cognitive decline? During Alzheimer’s disease, proteins called caspase – which normally are involved in cellular communication and metabolism – become overly activated. Caspase activation, in turn, can overstimulate another protein called BACE1. BACE1 is one of several enzymes that “clip” beta-amyloid, a protein

NARFE member number_________________________________ Name____________________________________________ New address_____________________________ Apt/Unit_ ____ City_ ______________________ State_ _____ ZIP_ ________ New phone (______)_______________ Eff. date______________ Email_ ___________________________________________

Change of address?

1/15/14 3:55 PM w w w. n a r f e . o r g 41





For the Record

Thrift Savings Plan Monthly Returns G FUND

























































































10 yr







L 2020

L 2030

L 2040

L 2050






















































































THIS CHART is provided as a service to NARFE members who enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan while employed by the federal government. Retirees are not eligible for enrollment. These returns are net of the effect of accrued administrative expenses and investment expenses/costs. Percentages in () are negative. Source: TSP G Fund: Government securities (specially issued to the TSP) F Fund: Government, corporate and mortgage-backed bonds C Fund: Stocks of large- and medium-size U.S. companies S Fund: Stocks of small- to medium-size U.S. companies (not included in the C Fund) I Fund: International stocks of 21 developed countries L Fund: Invested in the G, F, C, S and I Funds (The proportion of L Fund balance invested in each of the individual TSP funds depends on the L Fund chosen.) 42

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Equity Markets decline in January Global equity markets made a poor start on 2014 with the first monthly decline in prices in five months. A flat start on the month was disrupted by sinking currencies from Turkey to Brazil. Falling prices accelerated with concerns about slowing growth in China and other emerging markets. Meanwhile, a flight to quality led to big gains for U.S. Treasury issues. The C, S and I Funds poste d returns of -3.45, -1.91 and -4.03 percent, respectively. The G Fund return was 0.21 percent; the F Fund, 1.58 percent. —BY william H. Jacobson, Deputy Chief investment officer of the

Countdown to COLA


he Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.02 percent in December 2013. To calculate the 2015 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the indices of July, August and September 2014 will be averaged and compared with the 2013 third-quarter average of 230.327. The percentage increase, if any, determines the COLA. December’s index, 229.174 is down 0.50 percent from the base. Benefits awarded under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to individuals suffering work-related injuries or illnesses are adjusted according to each calendar year’s percentage change in the CPI-W. December’s index is 1.5 percent higher than the December 2012 base index of 225.889.(See story, p. 14, on the 2014 COLA for FECA recipients.) The CPI represents purchases of food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services. Included are various government fees, such as water charges, auto registration fees, and sales and excise taxes. Month


Monthly % Change

% Change from 230.327

October 2013












January 2014 February March April May June July August September

Donate to NARFE Programs Support Alzheimer’s Research Write your chapter number on check; make it payable to: NARFE-Alzheimer’s Research and mail to: Alzheimer’s Association 225 N. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor Chicago, IL 60601-7633

NARFE members contributed for Alzheimer’s research: $11 Million Fund


*Total as of December 31, 2013 100% of all contributed funds go to Alzheimer’s research.

Your charitable contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Enclosed is my NARFE-Alzheimer’s contribution: $ Every cent that is contributed is used for research. Please circle: Mr. Mrs. Miss Ms. Name: Address: City: State: ZIP: Chapter Number: Credit Card Information: MasterCard VISA If you have any questions, write to: Discover AMEX National Committee Chair Card Number: Jane Rodgers, P.O. Box 234 Expiration Date: (mm)/ (yy) Wadesville, IN 47638-0234 3-Digit Security Code: Name: (please print) Email: Signature

Join the Silver CIrcle Clip this contribution form and mail to: NARFE Silver Circle, 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314

•For a contribution of $25 or more, you will receive a Silver Circle pin, and your name will be listed in narfe magazine with other contributors. •For a contribution of $1,000 or more, your name will be placed on the “Wall of Fame” at NARFE Headquarters.



Enclosed is my Silver Circle contribution: $ ID # (ID # may be found on your narfe magazine label or your NARFE membership card)

Name: Address: City: Silver Circle contributions are NOT deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Installment Plan Wall of Fame 12-month installment plan

Give to the Scholarship and Disaster Funds

Please mail coupon and check to: FEEA 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite 300 Lakewood, CO 80227


All donations go to the NARFE General Fund to support NARFE programs and operations.



My check is enclosed

(Please make check payable to NARFE Silver Circle.)

Please charge my credit card Card type MasterCard VISA Discover AMEX Card Number: Expiration Date: (mm)/ (yy) Name: (please print)


Make check payable to: NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund or NARFE-FEEA Scholarship Fund.






I would like to help with my contribution.

Please check appropriate box(es). To make credit-card contributions, call 800-338-0755. Scholarships are available to children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of federal civilian retirees and current federal employees who are NARFE members. NARFE-FEEA Disaster Fund

Amount: $

NARFE-FEEA Scholarship Fund

Amount: $

Name: Address: City:




updates In Brief

members meet State By state


orty NARFE federations will 16, Council Bluffs; KS, 4/27-29, hold conventions this year. Manhattan; KY, 4/8-10, Louisville; Fourteen other federations, on ME, 4/30-5/1, Lewiston; MA, biennial schedules, will have their 5/8-9, Devens; MI, 5/21-23, Battle conventions in 2015. Creek; MN, 5/21-23, Owatonna; 2014 NARFE FEDERATION MS, 4/4-6, Louisville; MO, 6/1-3, CONVENTIONS: Springfield; MT, 4/29-5/1, KaAK, 4/26-27, Anchorage; AR, lispell; NE, 5/11-13, Omaha; NH, 5/15-16, Conway; CT, 6/5, Crom5/21, Rochester; NM, 4/24-26, Las well; FL, 5/6-8, Orlando; ID, 5/19- Cruces; NY, 5/6-7, Latham; NC, Life21, Membership Design 3/26/13 3:49 PM PageRocky 1 Moscow;Apl_New IL, 6/4-6, Carbondale; 5/6-8, Mount; ND, 5/1-2, Minot; OH, 4/25-26, Newark; OK, IN, 4/8-10, Clarksville; IA, 5/14-

The NARFE photo contest deadline has been extended until March 15. Rules can be found at (log in; click on Special Programs). Winners will be used in the 2015 NARFE Calendar. The application for the 2014 NARFE Scholarship Program is available at (click on the image in the graphic carousel).

5/1-2, Stillwater; OR, 5/5-6, Medford; Panama, 3/15, Panama City; PA, 5/4-7, York; Philippines, 12/6, TBD; RI, 5/15, Newport; SC, 5/12-14, Charleston; SD, 5/6-8, Aberdeen; TN, 4/21-22, Franklin; UT, 5/15-16, Layton; VT, 5/22, Montpelier; VA, 4/13-16, Richmond; WA, 5/13-15, Silverdale; WV, 5/19-21, Berkeley Springs; WI, 5/5-7, Wisconsin Rapids; WY, 5/22-23, Casper.


Contact Information n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name _____________________________________________ Street Address _________________________________________ Apt./Unit______________________________________________ City _______________________ State _____ ZIP _____________ Phone (__________) ____________________________________ Email_________________________________________________ Date of Birth _________ /_________ /___________________ dd



Recruiter ID # (if applicable) _________________________________ Chapter Number _______________________________________ (call 800-456-8410 for chapter information) Membership Information Member Number: ______________________________________ (New members) Membership is open to civilians in any agency of the federal or D.C. (before Oct. 1, 1987) governments eligible for a federal annuity.

Thank you for becoming a National Member for Life. You will receive a membership card, certificate and special lapel pin. Please allow six weeks for processing. Dues payments & gift contributions to NARFE are not deductible as charitable contributions for income tax purposes. 44

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Single or Quarterly Payment Installments 30-39 $1,796 $450.25 40-50 1,408 353.25 51-55 1,127 283.00 56-60 960 241.25 61-65 801 201.50 66-70 653 164.50 71-75 514 129.75 76-80 392 99.25 81-90 251 64.00 91-100+ 127 33.00

I am a (check all that apply) n Active Federal Employee n Active Federal Employee Spouse n Annuitant n Annuitant Spouse n Survivor Annuitant

PAYMENT INFORMATION n Single Payment or n Quarterly Installments (4 payments) Life Membership fee amount: $ ______________________ PAYMENT OPTIONS n Check or Money Order (Payable to NARFE) n Charge my: n MasterCard n VISA n Discover n American Express Card No. __________________________________________ Expiration Date _________ /_________ mm


Name on Card ______________________________________ Signature ____________________________ Date ________ MAIL THIS APPLICATION TO NARFE Member Records 606 N. Washington St. / Alexandria, VA 22314-1914

NARFE National Convention August 24-28

rlando Deadlines

Candidate Statements: March 1 for publication in the May issue of narfe magazine Committee Assignment Requests: March 1 Resolutions: No later than May 13 Delegate Forms: June 28 Registration: August 1 Proxy Forms: August 9

New to the NARFE Convention? Seize the Opportunities! Going to the NARFE National Convention for the first time? The convention holds many opportunities for you to participate and to learn about NARFE’s role in securing the well-being of the federal community. Here are just a few of the convention’s highlights: Orientation: Prior to the official kickoff of the convention on Sunday, all are invited to attend this session, which provides an overview of the convention agenda and details about your role. Business Sessions: Beginning Monday morning and continuing through Thursday morning, the convention will take care of Association business, with invited speakers and updates of major national programs. Breakfast/Lunch and Learn Sessions: Building on the success of these sessions at the 2012 convention, the convention will offer several training/information-sharing sessions during the course of the event. Topics include legislation, membership, service officer training and information technology. Regional Caucuses: The Association’s 10 regional vice presidents will host sessions on Tuesday afternoon, primarily to conduct regional business and to elect regional vice

presidents. All convention attendees within the jurisdiction of each region are invited to attend and participate. Voting: A major item of business during the convention will be voting on national bylaws amendments and general resolutions. The convention also will elect national officers for two-year terms.

In addition to the business sessions, convention planners have scheduled several fun events, including “Florida Night,” hosted by the Florida Federation, and the convention banquet, with entertainment, on Thursday night to celebrate NARFE’s future. Please make your plans to attend! —By Elaine C. Hughes, National Secretary

Travel Arrangements

Hotel Registration

Rosen Centre Hotel 9840 International Dr. Orlando, FL 32819 800-204-7234 NARFE Rate: $95 + 13.63% tax =$107.94 single/double occupancy per night. Additional person: $20 For NARFE group rate, please use Group Code 50485. Reservation Cutoff Date: Monday, July 21

Airline Discounts Delta Airlines, When booking online, select Meeting Events Code and enter the meeting ID: NMGND in the box provided on the Search Flight page. A direct ticket charge of $25 will apply if booking by phone (800-328-1111). United Airlines, When booking online, enter the Z Code: ZQJH, then the Agreement Code: 825302. A $25 service fee will be collected per ticket for all tickets issued by phone through United Meetings reservations, 800-426-1122.

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NARFE 2014 National Convention Orlando, Florida August 24-28

PREREGISTRATION FORM NARFE ID #:_ _________________________________ Name:______________________________________ Address:_____________________________________ ___________________________________________ Name for badge:_______________________________ Chapter #:___________________________________ Location:_ ___________________________________

Please check: o (Guest) Member o (Guest) Nonmember

o Delegate* o Delegate-at-Large* o Alternate*

*NOTE: This is NOT a voter registration form. Voter registration is confirmed by your chapter on Form C/14-2. n n n n

A nonrefundable fee of $75 (payable to NARFE) must accompany this form. Onsite registration fee will be $90. Each attendee must complete a separate registration form. Form must be postmarked by August 1, 2014.

Notify in case of emergency: Name:______________________________________ Phone Number:_ ______________________________ Form C/14-4

o Charge to my credit card: o MasterCard o VISA o Discover o AMEX Card#:_ ____________________________________ Expiration Date:_________ /_ ______

Make check payable to NARFE and send to: NARFE, Treasurer’s Office 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914


August 28, 2014 NARFE ID #:_ _________________________________ Name:______________________________________ Address:_____________________________________ ___________________________________________ Chapter #:___________________________________ Nonmember Guest:_____________________________



Name on card (print):___________________________ Signature:_ _________________________________

NARFE 2014 National Convention Orlando, Florida August 24-28

n n n n n n

Tables will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Tables seat 10 people. RESERVATIONS LIMITED TO 2,000 PEOPLE. Groups wishing to sit together should submit only one request specifying number of seats desired. Please attach name list. A receipt will be mailed to you by August 1 acknowledging payment and showing your table assignment. All banquet tickets will be held for pickup at the convention registration area at Junior Ballroom F, 1st Floor. BANQUET REFUNDS AVAILABLE ONLY IF RESERVATIONS ARE CANCELLED 72 HOURS PRIOR TO THE BANQUET.

Please reserve _ _____ tickets at $65 each, total $_______ Form C/14-16

Make check payable to NARFE and send to: NARFE, Treasurer’s Office 606 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1914

o Charge to my credit card: o MasterCard o VISA o Discover o AMEX Card#:_ ____________________________________ Expiration Date:_________ /_ ______ (mm)


Name on card (print):___________________________ Signature:_ _________________________________


Actual size is 40 mm

Smithsonian Authorizes FIRST EVER U.S./China Panda Silver Proof! Washington D.C.


hen the first giant pandas arrived in the United States from China in 1972, their new home became the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Today, more than 40 years later, the National Zoo still houses giant pandas, an endangered species believed to number only about 1,600 in the wild. The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution,®the largest museum and research complex in the world.

Spectacular World’s First Now, to honor over four decades of Chinese giant pandas at the National Zoo, the China Mint and the Smithsonian Institution are releasing a first-ever special issue Panda Silver Proof exclusively through Struck in one full ounce of 99.9% pure proof silver—the finest silver available—each Smithsonian Panda Silver Proof features the National Zoo’s current panda pair: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. The obverse of this massive 40mm silver proof depicts the Great Wall of China alongside the iconic Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s a world’s first! New Baby Panda Makes Headlines This summer, Mei Xiang gave birth to a new giant panda cub. Mama and baby have already captivated millions through the National Zoo giant panda webcam online. Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the cub’s father, are depicted on the Smithsonian Panda Silver Proof at rest within their National Zoo habitat.

Strictly Limited Edition The China Mint has been issuing hugely-popular China Silver Pandas for over 30 years. In fact, over 30 million have been issued during the last three decades. But this is the first time ever that the China Mint has struck a special issue Panda Silver Proof in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution. And the mintage is strictly limited to only 500,000 for the entire world! These silver proofs are only available through Each proof is accompanied by a serial-numbered government certificate of authenticity and the earliest orders will claim the coveted lowest serial numbers. Act quickly to secure yours now! Naturally, your satisfaction is assured with our no-hassle 30-Day Guarantee.

2014 Smithsonian Panda Silver Proof

Your cost 1–4 proofs – $59.95 each + s/h 5–9 proofs – $55.95 each + s/h (Save $20 or more) 10+ proofs – $49.95 each + s/h (Save $100 or MORE)

Call toll-free 24 hours a day

1-888-835-8675 Offer Code SMP173-01

Please mention this code when you call.

Smithsonian Institution®, 14101 Southcross Dr. W, Burnsville, MN 55337

Prices and availability subject to change without notice. Past performance is not a predictor of future performance. NOTE:® is a private distributor of worldwide government coin and currency issues and privately issued licensed collectibles and is not affiliated with the United States government. Facts and figures deemed accurate as of October 2013. ©2014

Active and Retired Federal Employees ...


National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association The only organization dedicated solely to protecting and preserving the benefits of all federal workers and retirees, NARFE informs you of any developments and proposals that affect your compensation, retirement and health benefits, AND provides clear answers to your benefit questions.

Who Should Join?

Three Easy Ways To Join 1. 2. 3.

N A R F E M E M B E R S H I P A P P L I C AT I O N n YES. I want to join NARFE. n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name ________________________________________ Street Address ____________________________________ Apt./Unit ________________________________________

I am a (check all that apply) n n n n n

Active Federal Employee Active Federal Employee Spouse Annuitant Annuitant Spouse Survivor Annuitant

n Please enroll my spouse

City _______________________ State _____ zIp ________

Spouse’s Full Name ________________________________

phone (__________) _______________________________

Spouse’s Email ____________________________________


NARFE respects the privacy of our members. Personal information is used to provide content and relevant communications to our members, and will not be sold or rented to third parties without your express permission.

Choose Your Membership Type o eNARFE Chapter Online Membership – $40 NARFE’s electronic chapter. Receive narfe magazine by mail each month, and all other communications by email and on Get important updates and legislative action alerts, and have access to the eNARFE blog.


o Local Chapter Close-to-Home Membership – $40*

PAYMENT OPTIONS n Check, Money Order or Bill pay (payable to NARFE) n Bill me (NARFE membership will start when payment is received.) n Charge my: n MasterCard n VISA n Discover n American Express Card No. _____________________________________ Expiration Date _________ /_________

Affiliation with the NARFE chapter closest to your home. Receive narfe magazine each month; attend meetings, often with invited speakers; network; and get involved in grass-roots lobbying efforts.

Name on Card _________________________________

Chapter Affiliation: Chapter # __ __ __ __(if known, otherwise enroll me in the chapter closest to my zIp code).

Date _________________________________________

*First-year dues. Subsequent years, $40 plus local chapter dues.

Total Dues $40 First-Year Dues X __________ = __________ per person # Enrolling Total Dues



Signature _____________________________________

MAY WE THANK SOMEONE? If applicable, please provide the name, membership and chapter number of the member who introduced you to NARFE: Recruiter’s Name __________________________________ Recruiter’s Membership ID __________________________ Recruiter’s Chapter Number _________________________

MAIL THIS APPLICATION TO NARFE Member Records / 606 N. Washington St. / Alexandria, VA 22314-1914

NARFE’s Dues Withholding Program What is dues withholding? It is a dues-payment method that gives NARFE members (retirees) the option of having their annual NARFE membership dues deducted from their annuities on a monthly basis. How does it work? One-twelfth of your total dues is automatically deducted from your monthly annuity. Your monthly deduction is determined by the following formula: (National dues ÷ 12) + (Chapter dues ÷ 12) = Total Monthly Deduction

Advantages • Save 15% off your annual membership dues! • Sign up your spouse and double your savings! • You’ll never get another dues reminder from us! • Your monthly payment is affordable and convenient! • You may cancel your dues withholding at any time! Application process It takes 60-90 days to process your application. Once the process is complete, you will receive a special membership card distinguishing you as a NARFE dues-withholding member.

To learn more about dues withholding, call 800-627-3394. Retirees, spouses of retirees and annuitant survivors are eligible for dues withholding.

NARFE Dues Withholding Application for Retirees n YES. I want to enroll in NARFE’s Dues Withholding Program (Annual dues of $34 plus Chapter dues of record to be withheld annually.) Social Security Number (9-digit number)

Civil Service Annuity Number


(Include prefix, CSA or CSF) (Include any applicable suffix)

n Mr. n Mrs. n Miss n Ms. Full Name _______________________________________


Street Address ___________________________________

NARFE Membership ID ____________________________________


NARFE Chapter Number____________________________________

City _________________________ State _____ ZIP _____

n YES. I Also Authorize My (NARFE Member) Spouse’s Dues To Be

Phone (__________) ______________________________ Email ___________________________________________ Date of Birth _________ /_________ / ____________________ dd



Withheld From My Annuity. (Additional annual dues of $34 plus Chapter dues of record to be withheld annually.) If YES, enter spouse’s information below. Spouse’s Name ___________________________________________ Spouse’s Membership ID ___________________________________

AUTHORIZATION (Withholding will begin in 60-90 days). No payment should be forwarded with application. I authorize the United States Office of Personnel Management to make appropriate deductions from my annuity payments, not to exceed the amount certified by the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association as the amount of dues for which I am annually obligated, in accordance with elections I make below, and to pay the deducted sum to the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). This authorization shall also apply to any and all dues changes certified by NARFE membership in accordance with elections I make below: Please allow 60-90 days for processing.

I understand that this authorization shall be valid until NARFE receives and processes my written notice of cancellation in accordance with its agreement with the Office of Personnel Management and that any disputes regarding this authorization shall be a matter between NARFE and myself. I hold the Office of Personnel Management harmless for any erroneous allotment deduction made pursuant to this authorization. ___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________

Signature of Annuitant or Survivor-Annuitant


Dues payments and gifts or contributions to NARFE are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. MAIL THIS FORM TO: NARFE, ATTN: Member Records, 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1914 800-627-3394 Do not send money with this form

DW-2 (08/12)

Member Perks

NARFE Member Perks

are designed to provide NARFE members with a quality option in their search for commonly used products and services. NARFE makes no guarantee on any products and services listed, and encourages its members to shop and compare before making a decision on any financial matter.

Credit Union

NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union 800-328-1500 As a member of NARFE, you have the privilege of joining NARFE Premier Federal Credit Union, which has been serving members since 1935. We offer extensive services at competitive rates to members nationwide. Your savings are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. For more information, call the number above, email or visit the website.


NARFE Insurance Services 800-233-5764 Designed and administered by Marsh U.S. Consumer, a service of Seabury & Smith, Inc., exclusively for NARFE members: Senior Whole Life, Term Life, Medicare Supplements, Hospital Income Plan, Short Term Recovery Insurance, Pet Insurance, Accidental Death &  Dismemberment, Cancer Care, Enhanced Dental Insurance and Long Term Care. Go to the website for more information on these programs.

GEICO 800-368-2734 NARFE members with good driving records may be eligible for quality automobile insurance from GEICO. Ask about the NARFE discount available to members in many states. Call to50

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day for your free, no-obligation rate quote. Be sure to mention that you’re a NARFE member! • Discount amount varies in some states • Discount not available in all states or in all GEICO companies • One group discount applicable per policy.

Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program 800-LTC FEDS Make long-term care insurance part of your retirement plan. With benefits designed specifically for the federal family, the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program offers a smart way to help protect savings and assets, and remain independent should you need long-term care services someday. Start planning for the future. Visit today.

Vacation rentals

Government Employees Travel Opportunities® 877-867-3639 Offers government employees, retirees and their families 7-night stays for only $349 on accommodations at popular destinations worldwide. Book online and save on your next vacation stay.


Choice Hotels International 800-258-2847 With 6,000 hotels in the United States and throughout the world, Choice Hotels® offers something for everyone. Join the Choice Privileges® rewards program and earn points with every qualifying stay toward free nights, Airline Rewards, gift cards and more. As a NARFE member, receive 20% off your next stay at participating hotels when you use Special Rate ID 00801967. This offer is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations required.

Wyndham Hotel Group 877-670-7088 As a member of NARFE, you will receive up to 20% off the “Best Available Rate” at participating locations. Call and give the agent your special discount ID number, 8000002694, at time of booking to receive discount. Whether you are looking for an upscale hotel, an all-inclusive resort or something more cost-effective, we have the right hotel for you... and at the right price. So start saving now. Call our special member-benefits hotline 877-670-7088 and reserve your room today at one of these fine hotels: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts®, Days Inn®, Ramada Worldwide®, Super 8®, Wingate By Wyndham®, Baymont Inns and Suites®, Hawthorn Suites® By Wyndham, Microtel Inns and Suites®, Howard Johnson®, Travelodge® and Knights Inn®.

car rentals

National You Drive A Hard Bargain. Receive up to 20% off rentals at National Car Rental. To make a reservation call National Car Rental at 1-800-CAR-

RENT® and reference Contract ID 5282909.

Alamo Drive Happy® with Alamo® where NARFE members receive year-round discounts. Call 1-800-462-5266 and reference Contract ID 262544.

Avis The employees/owners of Avis offer guaranteed low rates and quality services to members of NARFE. Call 800-331-1441 and mention ID# A991900.

*State restrictions apply. Call or visit website for details.

Bekins Van Lines 800-248-4810 www. All NARFE members will receive discounted pricing for all interstate shipments. Discount will apply to packing and moving services and valuation protection. All intrastate shipments, local moves and international moves will be competitive based on your geographical location. Please mention you are a NARFE member and ask for Traci.

emergency services

narfe merchandise

NARFE General Store 855-99NARFE (855-996-2733) Official NARFE name badges, customizable logo products and plaques.

MASA 800-423-3226 Medical Air Services Association has been the industry leader in prepaid emergency assistance services for more than 30 years. NARFE members have experienced MASA’s “peace of mind” services since 2001. Now NARFE members are entitled to even more: air ambulance transportation, helicopter transportation, ground ambulance, vehicle return, mortal remains transport, and much more! Call MASA Today. It Could Save Your Life!

3. Atrial Fibrillation 4. Peripheral Arterial Disease. You will receive a confidential written report within 21 days. Life Line Screening and NARFE encourage you to share these test results with your doctor. All four screenings cost just $135. To schedule an appointment, please call the number above and give the operator code number BKHN075 or visit the website. Coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.


Ivy Bridge College 877-615-9246 narfe Want to earn your associate’s degree before you transfer to a four-year school? Ivy Bridge College offers a variety of degree programs that will help put you on the right track. No matter which program you choose, an education with Ivy Bridge will provide you with a solid foundation for a rewarding future. NARFE members and their families can enjoy an exclusive 5 percent savings on tuition at Ivy Bridge, a unique online institution that provides a highly supported pathway to a bachelor’s degree. To learn more, call or visit the website.

Moving services

NARFE Member HomeBenefits 800-666-9203 http://narfe. • Earn thousands in cash-back rewards when you buy or sell a home* • Shop competitive mortgage rates, receive discounts on closing costs, plus take advantage of your VA Loan Benefits • Receive preferred pricing on interstate moving services with the nation’s most trusted moving company – Allied Van Lines!

health screening

Life Line Screening 800-324-9906 NARFE


Life Line Screening, America’s leading provider of community-based preventive health screenings, will conduct the following screenings using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology in your neighborhood:

TURN TO PAGE 48: Fill out the Membership Application and mail it to NARFE to receive all the perks of being a NARFE member.

1. Stroke/Carotid Artery 2. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

GO ONLINE: It’s easy to join online at Click “Join NARFE.”

Call (Toll-Free) 800-627-3394.

w w w. n a r f e . o r g



The Way We Worked

cutting edge Media monitors In this 1960 photo, Department of State employees in the Office of News, Clipping Section, cut articles from national and international newspapers and paste them into briefing books for policymakers who needed to keep pace with world events. Today, Internet tools such as news aggregators and RSS feeds allow officials to stay informed about international news without the need for scissors and paste. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Charles, Department of State, Office of the Historian, Records of the Department of State, National Archives; in collaboration with the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG), bringing together government professionals, academics, consultants, students and citizens interested in understanding federal history work and the historical development of the federal government. Website: shfg/. 52

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2 0 14

Did you know? News is a two-way street at the Department of State. In addition to monitoring the news from around the world, the Department disseminates information using a growing number of electronic outlets, including Twitter, tumblr, flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. It also has an extensive website, www., an official blog titled “Dipnote� and an RSS feed.

o t N rac nt o C

“My friends all hate their cell phones… NEW I love mine!” Here’s why.


FREE Ca Chargrer

ng Sou Bett er nd er Ba a tte nd ry Li fe

Say good-bye to everything you hate about cell phones. Say hello to Jitterbug. “Cell phones have gotten so small, I can barely dial mine” Not Jitterbug®, it features a larger keypad for easier dialing. It even has an oversized display so you can actually see it.

Monthly Minutes Monthly Rate

Basic 19


was 100 NOW 200



Operator Assistance



911 Access



No add’l charge

No add’l charge



Long Distance Calls Voice Dial

“I had to get my son to program it” Your Jitterbug set-up process is simple. We’ll even pre-program it with your favorite numbers.

Basic 14

Nationwide Coverage Friendly Return Policy1



30 days

30 days

More minute plans available. Ask your Jitterbug expert for details.

“I tried my sister’s cell phone… I couldn’t hear it” Jitterbug is designed with an improved speaker. There’s an adjustable volume control, and Jitterbug is hearing-aid compatible.

“My cell phone company wants to lock me in on a two-year contract!” Not Jitterbug, there’s no contract to sign and no penalty if you discontinue your service. “I’ll be paying for minutes I’ll never use!” Not with Jitterbug, unused minutes carry over to the next month, there’s no roaming fee and no additional charge for long distance.

“I don’t need stock quotes, Internet sites or games on my phone, I just want to talk with my family and friends” Life is complicated enough… Jitterbug is simple. “What if I don’t remember a number?” Friendly, helpful Jitterbug operators are available 24 hours a day and will even greet you by name when you call.

“My phone’s battery only lasts a couple of days” The Jitterbug’s battery lasts for up to 25 days.

“I’d like a cell phone to use in an emergency, but I don’t want a high monthly bill” Jitterbug has a plan to fit your needs… and your budget.

Enough talk. Isn’t it time you found out more about the cell phone that’s changing all the rules? Call now, Jitterbug product experts are standing by.

Available in Silver and Red.

Order now and receive a FREE Car Charger for your Jitterbug – a $24.99 value. Call now!

Jitterbug Plus Cell Phone

Call today to get your own Jitterbug Plus. Please mention promotional code 47650.


We proudly accept the following credit cards.


IMPORTANT CONSUMER INFORMATION: Jitterbug is owned by GreatCall, Inc. Your invoices will come from GreatCall. All rate plans and services require the purchase of a Jitterbug phone and a one-time set up fee of $35. Coverage and service is not available everywhere. Other charges and restrictions may apply. Screen images simulated. There are no additional fees to call Jitterbug’s 24-hour U.S. Based Customer Service. However, for calls to an Operator in which a service is completed, minutes will be deducted from your monthly balance equal to the length of the call and any call connected by the Operator, plus an additional 5 minutes. Monthly minutes carry over and are available for 60 days. If you exceed the minute balance on your account, you will be billed at 35¢ for each minute used over the balance. Monthly rate plans do not include government taxes or assessment surcharges. Prices and fees subject to change. 1We will refund the full price of the GreatCall phone and the activation fee (or set-up fee) if it is returned within 30 days of purchase in like-new condition. We will also refund your first monthly service charge if you have less than 30 minutes of usage. If you have more than 30 minutes of usage, a per minute charge of 35 cents will be deducted from your refund for each minute over 30 minutes. You will be charged a $10 restocking fee. The shipping charges are not refundable. Jitterbug and GreatCall are registered trademarks of GreatCall, Inc. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. ©2014 Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC. ©2014 GreatCall, Inc. ©2014 by firstSTREET for Boomers and Beyond, Inc.

Only per pair


Light Taupe



Twin elastic insets make ’em easy to slip on!

#1 Bargain Place Jessup, PA 18434-1834

Hand-Stitched “Star” Leather Loafers are Loaded with Stellar Comfort! Genuine Leather uppers are meticulously hand-stitched with a striking star design. Perfs and side vents add style and cooling ventilation too. Complete with easy-on twin elastic insets at instep, padded ankle collar, and soft foam-backed tricot lining. Flexible treaded outsole, perfect 1" heel. Available only from Haband! Order now!

Now Shipped

FREE! 2 pairs 46.97 3 pairs 67.95


Haband #1 Bargain Place, Jessup, PA 18434-1834 Card # _______________________________________ Exp.: _____/_____ Mr. Mrs. Ms. __________________________________________________ Address _________________________________________ Apt. # ______ Visa City & State ___________________________________ Zip ___________ MC Phone/Email__________________________________________________ Discover ® Network I enclose $________ purchase price, plus $5.99 shipping and handling. AmEx Check When you pay by check, you authorize us to use information from your check to clear it electronically. Funds may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day we receive your payment, and you will not receive your check back from your financial institution.

In GA add tax.

On-Line Quick Order Imported





MEDIUM: 5 51⁄ 2 6 61⁄ 2 7 71⁄ 2 8 81⁄ 2 9 10 11 *WIDE $4 more per pair: 6 61⁄ 2 7 71⁄ 2 8 81⁄ 2 9 10 11 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed or Full Refund of merchandise purchase price.

Dr. Scholl’s is a registered trademark of MSD Consumer Care, Inc. © 2014 MSD Consumer Care, Inc. All rights reserved.

For Faster Service Call: 1-800-543-4810 or visit

March 2014 NARFE Magazine  

March 2014 NARFE Magazine