Buzz Factor

The most-read stories on FCW.com in the past two weeks

1. Pay freeze won't stop all increases
Summary: The Office of Personnel Management says the two-year freeze on federal employees' pay applies only to cost-of-living allowances — not promotions, step raises or bonuses.
Outlook: The pay freeze enjoys wide bipartisan support, but federal managers still have some ability to give raises. (See related story, Page 18.)

2. DOD budget targets: Contractors, IT programs
Summary: Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered more details on the cost savings he’s planning through IT consolidation, workforce cuts and other measures.
Outlook: Gates’ plan still has a lot of hurdles to clear, but it’s a sure bet changes are coming soon.

3. White House steps up federal recruiting efforts
Summary: The new Pathways Programs offer three routes for talented young people to enter the federal workforce, while an older internship program criticized for circumventing competition gets nixed.
Outlook: Recruiting is a perennial difficulty for agencies, and the pay freeze can’t help. Time will tell if the new programs will have an effect.

4. Cuts to federal workforce outlined in bill
Summary: Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has introduced a bill with a number of cost-cutting measures, including one that would reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent in 10 years.
Outlook: The chances of Brady’s bill passing might be slim, but individual provisions could find support among lawmakers and resurface in other legislation.

5. 7 social media resolutions to keep in the new year
Summary: We offer seven habits to cultivate so you can use social media more effectively for your agency.
Outlook: Social media is here to stay. Now it's time to adopt a consistent strategy for using it.

6. Coast Guard CFO takes blame for $138M in misspending
Summary: Rear Adm. Keith Taylor took the blame for the Coast Guard’s policy of improperly using maintenance funds to make up for a severe gap in construction and acquisition funds for shore facilities from 2003 to 2007.
Outlook: The Homeland Security Department's auditors believed a few other people were also responsible, but Taylor’s insistence on taking the fall leaves some parts of the investigation unresolved.

7. Fed employee pay freeze becomes law
Summary: It looked like feds might get a reprieve when the omnibus bill that included the pay freeze was withdrawn from Senate consideration. But the measure reappeared in a continuing resolution bill designed to keep the government running during the budget process, and President Barack Obama signed it.
Outlook: Other measures under discussion now could extend the freeze into a third year.

8. Google wins: Interior forbidden to award noncompetitive contract to Microsoft
Summary: Google won a major victory in its ongoing battle to have its cloud offerings considered alongside Microsoft’s for federal contracts.
Outlook: Some contracting officers seem to favor Microsoft by default, but Google is working hard to show that there are other serious contenders to consider.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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