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9/8/2005
Source: Chief Human Capital Officers Council
Title: Conference Call on Hurricane Katrina Response - Synopsis
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Thursday, September 8, 2005

Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Linda M. Springer, CHCO Council Chairman, and CHCO Council Executive Director Michael D. Dovilla convened a special meeting of the Council via conference call at 1:00 p.m.

Donation of Leave
Chairman Springer
  • Treasury/IRS regulation on which The Washington Post reported today applies to the private sector only - not the Federal Government
  • Emergency leave transfer is the only authorized way for Federal employees to donate leave
  • Federal employees’ leave cannot be cashed out, donated, and claimed as a tax deduction
Human Resources Flexibilities
Chairman Springer
  • OPM and agencies should take this opportunity to review inventory of HR authorities, but not stray from their legislative intent
Volunteer Opportunities for Federal Employees
Todd Turner, Department of Homeland Security
  • 17 agencies have identified a point of contact
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) being updated
  • FEMA is establishing a 800 number and call center for employees and employers; this is a different number than the one established last week and will meet additional needs; lines will be staffed daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • Most recent update from DHS is the Orlando travel information circulated by Executive Director Dovilla on Tuesday, September 6, 2005, at 5:31 p.m.
  • A mission assignment letter is forthcoming
  • There is not a specific Web site for Federal employees; DHS will include a paragraph on this in guidance to be circulated about the new 800 number
  • Workers’ compensation claims are the responsibility of the donating agency; information on this will be included in revised FAQs from DHS
  • Most important action is to get volunteers’ names to FEMA; may be sent in batches
OPM Handbook on Pay and Leave Benefits
Donald J. Winstead, Deputy Associate Director for Pay & Performance Policy, Office of Personnel Management
  • Comprehensive summary of pay and leave benefits that apply to employees in emergency situations was emailed to agencies on Tuesday and posted on Internet at www.opm.gov
  • No need for hazardous duty pay designations
  • Individuals evacuated may receive per diem payments (travel & subsistence), regardless of whether working
  • Contact OPM with additional questions
Legislative Proposal on Overtime Pay Cap
Mr. Winstead
  • OPM has sent OMB proposed legislation seeking temporary waiver authority for a higher annual limit on overtime pay for calendar years 2005 and 2006 (similar to authority previously granted within CENTCOM AOR for service in Afghanistan and Iraq)
  • If enacted, the authority would apply only to this natural disaster
OPM Toll-Free Number
Robert F. Danbeck, Associate Director for Human Resources Products & Services,
Office of Personnel Management
  • OPM has established a toll-free number (1-800-307-8298) for Federal employees and annuitants to make inquiries about benefits, pay and leave, health and other insurance issues, and annuity payments that may have been affected by Hurricane Katrina
  • Call center will be staffed from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. CDT seven days a week; ready to go to 24/7 operations if needed
  • 157 calls received as of noon today
  • Public Service Announcements about the toll-free number are underway nationwide; 5,000 OPM brochures will be sent out to evacuation areas via FEMA
  • Daily compilations of calls will be sent to agencies each evening
Update on Retirement Applications
Kathleen M. McGettigan, Deputy Associate Director for Retirement & Insurance Services,
Office of Personnel Management
  • National Finance Center (NFC) reports it is now prepared to transact business as usual
  • Retirement applications may be sent to the usual address (P.O. Box 29310, New Orleans), and they will be rerouted to NFC’s alternate work site in Texas
Long-Term Housing
Gail T. Lovelace, Chief People Officer, General Services Administration
  • Staff working this issue not available to participate in today’s call
  • Ms. Lovelace will collect questions from CHCOs and provide to Executive Director Dovilla for dissemination (gail.lovelace@gsa.gov or 202-501-0398)
Stafford Act
Doris Hausser, Senior Policy Advisor to the Director, Office of Personnel Management
  • Schedule A appointing authority is available; for additional information, please refer to Director Springer’s memo of September 6, 2005 (OPM-HK-06), disseminated that day by Mary Lamary at 5:00 p.m.
  • If not familiar with authorities contained in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act (Pub. L. No. 93-288, as amended), OPM recommends not using
  • OPM seeking further clarification from OMB on this issue
Other Issues
Department & Agency Chief Human Capital Officers
  • Defense (Dr. Chu): Is there a strategy for getting Federal functions up and running in the affected region?
  • Defense (Dr. Chu): Can we do something about the 2,000 annuitants in the affected region who receive paper retirement checks? (DoD is distributing cash on-site.) OPM: When retiree calls to indicate he/she has not received a check, OPM offers EFT option; alternatively, upon verification, OPM will send a paper check to a new address.
  • General Services Administration (Ms. Lovelace): Is OPM granting dual-compensation waivers? OPM: Agencies must request this from OPM; authority may be granted on an agency-by-agency basis; a Governmentwide, blanket waiver is not permitted.
  • Health & Human Services (Mr. Hosenfeld): Will agencies be granted relief in meeting SES performance rating cycle requirements? OPM: Agencies should seek their own remedies; statutory requirements limit action by OPM; Working for America Act of 2005 would provide additional flexibility.
  • Office of Personnel Management (Mr. Benowitz): Seek agencies’ input about the utility of sending OPM staff to the affected area to discuss pay, benefits, etc. (similar to services provided by OPM’s toll-free number); CHCOs may correspond directly with Mr. Benowitz, Senior Advisor for National Emergency Response, at steve.benowitz@opm.gov.

The Council will convene at OPM for its monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 13, 2005, at 12:00 p.m.

Executive Director Dovilla adjourned the meeting at 2:15 p.m.

PARTICIPATING DEPARTMENT AND AGENCIES
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security (including FEMA)
Department of the Interior
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Department of the Treasury
General Services Administration
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Personnel Management
Social Security Administration

Respectfully Submitted,

MICHAEL D. DOVILLA
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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