Letters to the Editor

Finding federal jobs

Having worked in federal service for many years, and being a highly skilled IT professional (especially in e-commerce and e-service areas), I'd like to comment that feds have no way of identifying people with these valuable skills ["Panel: Changes can lure IT labor," FCW, March 8]. If you're not actively keeping an eye on the vacancy announcements, you won't know where your skills are needed. Even finding the openings doesn't mean you'll get the job, even if you're the most qualified. Most of the higher-level jobs are pre-selected and are career ladders for people already in that agency.

So no wonder [federal agencies are] not getting the skilled talent. It's a dance of frustrated partners on both sides of the ballroom floor. No wonder the really good IT professionals are leaving government service. All this talk about attracting and training college grads is great, but what about making the best use of the seasoned IT professionals already working here? Nobody seems to be aware we're here, many of us with another 12 to 15 years to work. Why doesn't the government realize it can't afford to lose its knowledge base? What is needed is a skills bank where agencies can share or matrix the talent as needed.

Susan SmoterChief Applications OfficerMS/IRMOverseas Private Investment Corp.

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Work-related travel

In Bureaucratus' "Travel time can count as overtime" [FCW, March 8], the only two surprises are that the Navy was foolish enough to pursue the dispute and that the outcome was considered newsworthy.

The situation and the outcome are both "motherhood and apple pie." The Navy made a bold but ridiculous attempt to contort the situation by trying to divorce the employee's travel from the contractor-scheduled event. Unfortunately, there are very few federal employees for whom this situation will ever arise. Because "agency" is taken to mean only the highest level, most travel consists of an event that one element within the agency scheduled, giving other elements no control. So long as someone in the agency controls the scheduling of the event, no one in the agency can be paid for nonduty-hour travel.

Or can they? Every time the travel issue comes up, everyone cites the same piece of the law used in deciding the case in your article. But that isn't the only rule that applies, at least not in the Defense Department. If the organization knows in advance of the workweek that nonstandard hours will be needed, the agency is required to schedule the hours needed. This does not necessarily mean overtime, because the organization could cut other unneeded hours to keep the standard 40-hour week. However, it does result in the agency paying for the travel time, which is now being performed within the employee's duty hours, and it means either overtime pay or time off, depending on how the organization manages to schedule the workweek.

I have succeeded in having a Tour of Duty Change processed to cover required Saturday and Sunday travel. I know you normally stick to reporting formal decisions, but perhaps someone might take a look at this angle.

Thomas P. CurrieArmy

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