To: All NASCOE Members From: Brandon Wilson, NASCOE President Purpose: Recruit volunteer assistance on two special NASCOE task forces
Recently NASCOE has announced two initiatives which will utilize membership assigned to a task force for input during the planning process. Those assignments are:
Technology Coordinator Task Force: This task force will determine what qualifications are needed by a new “Technology Coordinator” volunteer position which will be created by NASCOE. The task force will also identify key technology priorities for use in NASCOE business processes.
Teleconference Alternative Task Force: This task force will determine cost effective alternatives to the current method of NASCOE internal communications by teleconference.
NASCOE will fill positions in these groups with a combination of existing NASCOE leadership and new NASCOE leadership. NASCOE is encouraging all members, (especially those who attended the recent NASCOE Leadership Conference in Dallas) to consider applying for a seat in one of these groups. NASCOE believes there may be members in county offices who are passionate about technology and who can provide forward thinking innovative ideas to these NASCOE initiatives.
Task force interactions will likely take place using e-mail and teleconference communication. Some minimal travel could be required. Time commitments would be around 1-2 hours/month until the task force is completed.
Interested attendees must provide the following information:
Short narrative on technology interest, background and skills
Preference of task force
Contact information (e-mail and phone number)
Other helpful information
The deadline to apply is end of day, December 13, 2019. Replies should be emailed to the following:
Subject Line should be: Action Request (11/29/2019): NASCOE Volunteers Sought for Internal Task Force (Insert your name here)
Thanksgiving is a time where we can reflect and be thankful for all the blessings in our lives. As employees of the Farm Service Agency, we have had a really tough and stressful year on the job. However, we should realize blessings are still plentiful, and our deeds are certainly helping an agricultural sector in need. I hope this year each and every one of you were able to get away from work and enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday by spending it with family, friends or just relaxing.
This year, like every year, I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my job. I am also thankful for our employee organization (NASCOE) and what it does for its membership. I want to make a special point and say “thank you” to those who have taken time to become members of NASCOE and help with the heavy lifting NASCOE does for FSA employees each and every day. The basis of NASCOE’s ability to work for membership is the Labor Management Agreement that it holds with FSA. We all should be thankful for this agreement, which allows NASCOE members to advance good ideas and provide feedback to management on how office functions are or are not working. It’s not often that employees of such a large organization have the opportunity to provide input that may eventually foster positive change in their very own workplace.
As you may already know, members of NASCOE can suggest good ideas on the NASCOE website at any time. Once ideas are received, vetted, and accepted, NASCOE can then begin working with management to see if they will implement suggested changes.
The Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program is one example of an idea that was recently suggested by a PT, to NASCOE through the negotiations program. NASCOE negotiated the suggestion with management and thankfully they accepted the idea and promised to roll it out. Last year was the first year the program was implemented. Program participants were overwhelmingly thankful for the opportunity to attend the program. Reviews provided by participants were very positive. It appears the program was able to build leaders and boost morale.
This year Notice AO-1739 was issued, which announced the Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program would once again be held this year. NASCOE actively encourages PT’s to consider the merits and the possibility of participating in this program. Interested PT’s should visit with their supervisor and review the notice carefully for required application details and deadlines.
NASCOE is thankful that FSA has amazing employees with great ideas and that we have a labor management agreement with FSA. If any County Office employees have ideas similar to the Leadership Excellence for PT Development Program or have any thoughts on how we can improve and make our daily jobs more efficient, NASCOE encourages them to submit those ideas through the NASCOE website.
On January 22, 2019 the National Office held a teleconference with all Employee Associations in an effort to update them on Agency furlough activities to date.
The call also included Q&A’s.
Attached to this NASCOE News Flash are teleconference notes from the “All Employee Association Furlough Teleconference”
NOTES: The notes are not official agency policy / directive, but rather taken from handwritten contemporaneous notes created by a participant on the reference call.
Many of the items in this document were covered with the NASCOE State Association President’s on the January 23, 2019 call with the NASCOE Officers.
If there are any questions regarding the topics contained in this document, please contact your state association President. They will refer your questions or concerns to the NASCOE Officers through your Area Executives.
NASCOE leadership believes it is possible that all
County Office Employees may be called back as “excepted” employees. Excepted employees would be required to
perform limited duties if approved by OMB and to work without pay until
shutdown ends. The negative employee impacts that are the most concerning to
NASCOE are the potential loss of unemployment benefits and the loss of the
ability to utilize outside employment to make ends meet.
NASCOE fully understands that the negative impacts of
the current agricultural economy are compounded by the additional loss of FSA
benefits. While NASCOE is sympathetic to
the burdens our farmers face, NASCOE cannot support sacrificing the financial
security of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees by subjecting them to a
callback without pay.
As fellow employees, we are dealing with the same
financial stress and fully understand the situations that employees are
facing. NASCOE is in constant
communication with Administration leadership in an effort to discuss ways to
minimize the impact on FSA employees.
NASCOE is deeply concerned that the callback could
force some employees to leave the agency and force others to make the decision
to retire. These actions will have a negative long-term impact on FSA’s ability
to provide quality service to our producers when they need us the most.
Trained, experienced and committed employees who leave the agency will not be
NASCOE has been very disappointed in the lack of clear
direction and instructions from the very beginning of this historic
furlough. NASCOE has diligently made an
effort to keep members up to date. Keep in mind this is not official
notification. As details continue to
emerge, NASCOE will be sharing information with our membership as quickly as
possible. Please continue to look for
email correspondence and website updates with the latest news from NASCOE.
The past few days have been very active in preparation of a temporary limited employee call back. This has been a very fluid process and plans have been modified multiple times. Below is the most current information NASCOE has been able to obtain. Also listed below is the latest information regarding situations where a partial paycheck for PP26 was not received.
1. The employee “call back” is intended to protect FSA collateral and assets and to close out 2018 FLP business so that accurate 1099’s can be provided to producers timely.
2. There are a limited number (2500) of employees approved to work during this temporary call back. Original list sent in exceeded this number and states had to cut back.
3. SED’s had the ability to determine who would be called in using this emergency authority. There hasn’t been any consistency from state to state on how that was determined.
4. Employees will be working under the “excepted” status meaning they will not be paid until the shutdown is resolved.
5. This is not expected to be a recurring process at this time .
6. Deadlines for various programs will have to be reviewed once the shutdown is resolved.
7. A communication package announcing the limited availability of staff is being developed and will be provided to states. The National Office and State Offices will deliver this communication to the public.
8. Time spent at work will have a limited scope of approved activity, mainly focusing on FLP, MAL and FSFL servicing. County Offices will be approved for intermittent/incidental activities, meaning they will be able to accept documents for other programs from producers but will not be able to process anything.
9. The initial NFC PAYE salary sweep paid about 90% of the employees that were due a partial payment. They are continuing to run sweep to get the remaining 10% paid. An employee shared this response from the FPAC Business Center regarding not getting paid.
“FPAC HRD had almost all of its exempt employees validating and certifying PP26 T&A’s last week. We were able to get just over 90% certified before the last run of PAYE on Friday. We have been and will continue to run reports and use them to continue to get T&A’s certified. Getting employees paid is always our top priority.”
I received the email below a few minutes ago from Deputy Administrator of Field Operations in WDC. The email was distributed to state offices earlier today and addresses PP 26 concerns.
Dennis Ray NASCOE President
Guidance was emailed to FSA State and County level staff this morning by the FPAC Business Center. We have had several questions related to the ‘Partial Exempt Employees’ portion of this document and how it relates to FSA CO non-federal employees. As you are aware FSA CO non-federal employees were funded for the first week of pp 26 and on ‘furlough’ for the second week of pp 26. Prior to shutting down, FSA CO non-federal employees were directed to complete their work-hours for the first week of pp 26, but not to input anything in WebTA for the second week of pp 26.
At this time, despite confusion with the interpretation of the attached T&A Submission Guidance, FSA CO non-federal employees should NOT be accessing the WebTA system or loading any transaction codes (TC) into their T&As. No action is needed by FSA CO non-federal employees, their supervisors, local timekeepers or State master timekeepers for pp 26. FPAC-BC-HRD staff is taking necessary actions to complete PP 26 coding and processing for FSA CO non-federal employees. It is our understanding that FSA CO non-federal employees will be paid, via NFC, for their work-hours the first week of pp 26 and it is anticipated this will occur within the normal payroll cycle.
As we go into the weekend without a resolution to the shutdown,
our legislative Consultant Hunter Moorhead, has provided an update on where the
process is currently. You should be receiving that soon if you haven’t already.
NASCOE appreciates the answers shared by FSA leadership and the
Business Center to questions we submitted last week as the shutdown began,
however we know that many questions remain. While there isn’t much new
information to pass on, we will try to share what we know.
PP 26 pay status. Information provided last week indicated that PP 26 would process on schedule for the time the agency was funded. As of right now we have not received guidance on the logistics of how that will work.
The FAQ document provided in the email from the Secretary’s Office has some good information. If you did not forward that to your home email, a copy of it will be posted to the NASCOE webpage.
NASCOE will continue to monitor both congressional and departmental developments. Hopefully there will be more information to share soon.
The NASCOE webpage is being updated to include links to the OPM webpage that contains information on the lapse in funding, including information on unemployment resources. Since each state is different NASCOE will provide the link from OPM as opposed to trying the provide specific answers.
The NASCOE webpage is in the process of adding a page devoted to furlough and shutdown information. That should be done by the morning of January 5th and our publicity chair will send out an update when that page is live.
As we wait for further
guidance, please continue to send your questions up through your state
presidents and area execs. We will forward those
questions to leadership for their review and response. As unusual as this
shutdown has been, answers are difficult to come by. As mentioned above the
NASCOE webpage will post all available information so please follow www.nascoe.org for the latest updates.
Many questions still remain about the furlough and how to proceed. I have just received the following information from the FPAC Business Center and FSA leadership.
Dennis Ray NASCOE President
Coding time — The county employees should code their timesheets for days worked, holidays on December 24 and December 25, as well as any leave taken between December 26 and December 28 before the furlough which takes effect at close of business on December 28. Once we have guidance from the Department’s Office of Human Resources Management and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding timesheet coding for the furlough days, we will provide guidance from the FPAC Human Resources Division. Keep in mind there may be legislation enacted to pay employees for the days they were furloughed.
Retirements — Per OPM regulations, regardless of whether there is a furlough, retirements are retroactive to the date employees make them effective. Employees will also not lose any leave over 240 hours, as it may be restored.
Salaries — PP 25 salaries will be paid on schedule. PP26 paychecks for exempt employees will be paid on schedule. Exempt employees, per the Department’s Office of Human Resource Management (OHRM), will not have to wait to be paid until the furlough is over.
Leave — Leave taken while county employees are still funded is treated just like leave taken under normal funding – “business as usual”. Any scheduled leave on a furlough day is cancelled and the hours are treated as furlough time.
Shutdown procedures — The instructions for orderly shutdown were in the attached letter which the county employees received on the morning of Wednesday, December 26, 2018.
Furlough letter — The official furlough notice was provided on Wednesday, December 26 and the FPAC Human Resources Division will not be issuing another letter to county employees. The furlough begins at close of business on Friday, December 28, and employees can either complete shutdown activities today before they leave (December 28) or come into the office on Monday, December 31 to do so. If they cannot come into the office, the shutdown procedure can be completed upon their return to the office.
Services to the Service Center — I do not know whether services will be affected at service centers. Here in Washington, DC, even though folks are working in this building, we have no services, such as trash pickup or cleaning.
On behalf of the entire
NASCOE leadership team I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I hope that everyone can put aside the
uncertainty of budget talks, continuing resolutions and partial shutdowns and
focus on making memories with loved ones.
We are blessed beyond measure and thankful for friends and family. NASCOE’s legislative consultant and
legislative team have been and will continue to monitor the budget situation in
Congress and will relay any new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, let’s focus on the reason
for the season.