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FCW : December 2013
24 December 2013 FCW.COM Although the government has its "open" sign on display after Octo- ber s partial shutdown, its "gone shing" sign remains within reach as the potential for a repeat perfor- mance looms in January. Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, is among those who are not optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the bud- get and appropriations problems before the end of the year. He recently spoke with FCW s Reid Davenport about past and future shutdowns and other issues that affect the federation s 110,000 members, including hiring and retaining IT employees. Are there any lessons to be learned from the October shutdown? In general, [the Of ce of Manage- ment and Budget] and [the Of ce of Personnel Management] did a pretty good job of communicating ahead of the shutdown with labor. We were having fairly regular conference calls with OMB and OPM to keep us updated on the situation and the likelihood of the shutdown and all that. So that was good, and I think one of the lessons learned was that when these kinds of situations are looming, communication is vital. Another lesson was, with respect to our employees and our members being able to take other jobs or to work part-time during the shut- down, there was some information out there that OPM had, but it really wasn t communicated all that well. We got a lot of questions about that ---canItakeajoboramIfreeto dothisordoIneedtorunitbymy supervisor? --- and I think [we need- ed] a little more clarity and a little more completeness on those kinds of questions because a lot of these folks are living paycheck to paycheck. Have you talked with OPM about the need for more clarity regarding moonlighting during a shutdown? I ve had some general conversations with them. I m trying to get a meet- ing with the new director. That ll be one of the things that I d like to talk to her about. I think it would be good for them to go through all of that type of information that they have listed on their website just to ensure that it s up-to-date, that it s complete, that it s understandable because once there is a shutdown, it becomes very dif- cult for us to nd anybody in the government. Some agencies require their employees to get any outside employment approved, but the peo- ple who would regularly approve those jobs were on furlough. That s exactly the problem. It s the same problem that I, as a president of a union, would have once there is a shutdown. It s going to be very dif cult for me to talk with anybody in any agency because most of the employees are on furlough. The alternative that we can do and that we are starting to communicate to our membership is, look, should we ever have these kinds of situa- tions in the future, it might be good for you if you have an interest or a need in seeking other employment during a shutdown or furloughs, just go ahead and have those conversa- tions right now while you re still employed. Get those agreements in place and then you don t have to worry about chasing people down once there is a shutdown. Other than short-term unemploy- ment, what are your major con- cerns about another shutdown? Right now, if I m a betting man, I would bet that there will be another shutdown in January, and the reason I say that is because this congres- NFFE president opines on shutdowns, IT hiring FirstPerson The National Federation of Federal Employees' Bill Dougan is predicting another shutdown come January
November 30, 2013