FEMA Weekly Employee News Bulletin

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NOTE: You may submit your articles and announcements to the FEMA-Weekly by noon on Thursday. Please allow 24-48 hours for your article or announcement to be posted.

FEMA Weekly November 24, 2014

Annual Ethics Training Holiday Hours

The Annual Ethics Training will be cancelled on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 1:00 - 2:00 P.M.
  • Friday, November 28, 2014 - 1:00 - 2:00 P.M.
  • Wednesday December 24, 2014 - 1:00 - 2:00 P.M.
  • Friday December 26, 2014 -  1:00 - 2:00 P.M.

The Annual Ethics Training will be conducted on Monday December 29 and Wednesday December 31, 2014. 

Deadline - November 29, 2014 , Annual Leave “Use or Lose” Notice

By law, the maximum amount of annual leave that most FEMA employees may carry into the new leave year (effective the first day of Pay Period 01, Sunday, January 11, 2015) is 240 hours. Foreign Service employees, serving overseas, have a ceiling of 360 hours and certain members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Foreign Service, Senior-Level and Scientific and Professional positions, as well as Presidential Appointees retaining SES benefits, have a ceiling of 720 hours.

Any accrued annual leave in excess of 240 hours, or the employee's applicable annual leave ceiling, is generally referred to as "use or lose" annual leave. With few exceptions, accrued annual leave in excess of the ceiling will be forfeited if not used by the final day of the leave year, Saturday, January 10, 2015, the end of Pay Period 26. However, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 6304(d)(1), “use or lose” annual leave may be considered for restoration if the leave was forfeited due to an administrative error, exigency of the public business, or sickness of the employee. The intent of this regulation is to preserve employee benefits in the event of severe and unforeseen demands. It is not intended to provide an excuse for improper scheduling, planning, or utilization of leave by employees or supervisors.

The following conditions must be met in order to have “use or lose” annual leave considered for restoration:

  1. The annual leave was scheduled in writing before November 29, 2014;
  2. After the leave was approved, it was canceled because of exigencies of public business (determined by the appropriate authority), illness, or administrative error; and
  3. The scheduled leave could not be rescheduled and used before the end of the leave year.

Scheduling “Use or Lose” Annual Leave

Supervisors must coordinate with employees to schedule and approve “use or lose” annual leave on or before the end of Pay Period 23, Saturday, November 29, 2014. Specifically, an employee with “use or lose” annual leave must place the leave request in WebTA and the supervisor must approve the request no later than midnight on November 29, 2014. The “use or lose” annual leave must be scheduled and approved in WebTA so that it is used no later than January 10, 2015.

Restoration of Unused Annual Leave Only Under Limited Circumstances

Under limited circumstances, forfeited “use or lose” annual leave may be restored.

  1. Exigency of public business:
    • An exigency is an unanticipated work situation of major importance that makes urgent demands or requires immediate action.
    • The time and duration of these exigencies must make it impossible to reschedule the previously approved annual leave before the end of the leave year.
  2. Exigency Approving Official:
  3. The determination that an exigency is of major importance (and therefore annual leave may not be used by an employee to avoid forfeiture) must be made and certified by the Assistant Director, Regional Director, or Office Director. (Absence and Leave Manual 3300.3) 
  4. To qualify, the sickness or injury occurs late in the leave year or was of such duration that the schedule and approved “use or lose” annual leave could not be rescheduled for use before the end of the leave year.
  5. The employee may request restoration of the “use or lose” annual leave with documentation of the sickness or injury. 
  6. Annual leave forfeited because of an administrative error in OCCHCO and may be restored to an employee’s account. The HR staff discovering the administrative error must immediately prepare a leave audit and request for approval to restore annual leave throughout the year.
  7. Failure to plan for or take leave throughout the year is not administrative error.
  8. FERS/CSRS Retirees
  9. Employees who plan to retire on or after January 10, 2015, must schedule their “use or lose” annual leave in accordance with this notice to avoid forfeiture. If annual leave is forfeited and does not meet the requirements for restoration, it will not be included in the employee’s lump sum payment for accrued annual leave.
  10. Illness:
  11. Administrative Error:

How to Donate Unused Annual Leave

As an alternative, employees may donate “use or lose” annual leave to approved recipients under the Agency’s Leave Transfer Program. Click here for specific guidance. Leave donations made for this purpose are limited to no more than the number of hours remaining in the leave year for which an employee is scheduled to work (non-leave) and receive pay.

Should you have further questions regarding “use or lose” leave or donating your annual leave, please contact OCCHCO Operations-Payroll Branch at 1-866-896-8003 or email: FEMA-HC-MYPAYSOLUTIONS@FEMA.DHS.GOV. Employees may also work with their local designated timekeepers or Time & Attendance Organization Representative to address “use or lose” annual leave questions.

Deadline - December 5, 2014 - Internal Communications Survey

In keeping with our ongoing commitment to providing you with the latest information you need to accomplish our mission, the Office of External Affairs is administering an internal communications surveyThe survey will be open until Friday, December 5th and should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

We take our responsibility to provide you with the latest news, mission-related announcements, and employee information seriously, and your experiences and insights are vital. Your participation will help us better understand things we’re doing well in internal communications and identify areas where we can make improvements. 

Please visit the link below to begin.  We look forward to hearing from you!

>> Internal Communications Survey

Deadline - December 8, 2014 - Health Benefit Programs Open Season

The upcoming Federal Benefits Open Season will run from November 10 through December 08, 2014.  This is the time of year to ensure that you have the right health (Federal Employees Health Benefits Program [FEHBP]), dental or vision insurance (Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program [FEDVIP]) coverage for you and your family.  It is also time to consider the money you can save on your out-of-pocket medical and dependent care expenses for 2015 (Federal Flexible Spending Accounts [FSAFEDS]). 

It is important to note that a number of plans have changed or are no longer available, and most will have a rate benefits change.  It is wise for you to check on the availability of your plan, its options and rates for the coming year.  If your current plan terminates their participation in FEHBP after January 11, 2015 or if your plan will no longer offer the enrollment option you previously selected, you must enroll in a different plan to continue coverage in 2015. 

In the event that your current plan continues to participate in the FEHBP, enrollees who wish to continue their current FEHBP/FEDVIP enrollments do not need to take action.  Please take a few minutes to review the current list of providers by visiting http://www.opm.gov/insure/openseason/index.asp for significant plan changes under the FEHB and FEDVIP programs.  Additional guides, plan brochures, open season information and plan comparison tools can be found on the Office of Personal Management (OPM) website www.opm.gov/insure.  

At this time, enrollments in the flexible spending accounts (FSAFEDS) do not carry over from year to year.  To continue this benefit in 2015, you must reenroll.  Beginning in 2015, FSAFEDS will allow participants to carry over up to $500 of unused health care funds from one plan year to the next.

Those desiring to make enrollment changes are encouraged to do so as early as possible during open season to ensure timely processing.  All FEHBP changes during Open Season must be made using the National Finance Center Employee Personal Page (EPP) https://www.nfc.usda.gov/epps/  (user id and password required).  Furthermore, FEHBP changes will be effective January 11, 2015, and FEDVIP and FSAFED changes will be effective January 1, 2015.

If you have any questions about Federal Benefits Open Season, upcoming fairs or your participation, contact your local HR personnel representative.  Those with FEHB plans and eligibility questions should email fema-hc-reservists-benefits@fema.dhs.gov.

The above guidance applies to full-time, permanent employees; the new programs for Reservists will be available once FEMA receives final guidance from OPM and Department of Homeland Security.  We expect to have an update soon.

December 8, 9, 10 - Mission Readiness Workshop now accepting applications!

Individuals hired into PFT positions in FY14 must complete the Mission Readiness workshop.  We are currently accepting enrollments in two sessions:
December 8, 9, 10 (non-NCR-based employees)

Individuals hired in FY11 and FY12 are being issued a waiver.  Any PFT hired in FY13 will be offered billets on an as-available basis.  Email edu@fema.dhs.gov and indicate your Duty Station and which session you wish to attend.  Two additional dates will be announced soon.

Save the date! Wednesday, December 10 - FEMA Recreation Association Holiday Bazaar

The FEMA Recreation Association is calling for vendors to participate in the annual FEMA Recreation Association Holiday Bazaar on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at the Holliday Inn Capitol Hotel.  Please contact:  Jane Crenshaw, Bazaar Coordinator at jane.crenshaw@fema.dhs.gov for more details.

Save the date! December 11, 2014 FEMA Special Hiring Event – Targeted Job Fair

FEMA is holding a Special Hiring Event - Targeted Job Fair for candidates with non-competitive eligibility.

When:  December 11, 2014, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Where: Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol Hotel

550 C ST SW, Washington, DC 20024

The fair provides an opportunity for program offices to host informational tables, conduct interviews, and make selections from a pool of qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds who can be hired quickly.

The job fair will be open to all candidates eligible for hire through a non-competitive authority, including 30% Disabled Veterans, Schedule A, Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA), Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and National Security Education Program Award Recipients.

Program offices that are interested in attending the fair and hiring candidates through a non-competitive authority are encouraged to submit a recruitment request and host a table at the job fair.

Direct any questions to Manny Gonzalez at 202-212-1751, JoAnn Way at 202-646-3199, or Andrew Kaiser at 202-646-3833.

Deadline, December 15, 2014  – Combined Federal Campaign

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is in full swing and as the largest employee campaign in the world it is run by Federal volunteers from across the nation and oversees. Giving is easy, convenient, and quick. You can browse the Catalog of Caring or search for charities at www.cfcnca.org and donate by cash, check, credit/debit card, or payroll deduction (the best way to give).  You can also contribute to the CFC using a paper pledge form or online at www.cfcnca.org.  Many FEMA employees have volunteered as key workers to facilitate in reaching our goal of 100% employee contact. Please check with your supervisor if you are unsure who your Office or Division’s keyworker is. Make It Possible!!

Save the date! Wednesday, December 17 - Holiday reception day

Message from Administrator Fugate and Deputy Administrator Nimmich

Team,
 
The holiday season is once again around the corner, and we wish you all the best during this special time of the year.
 
The official FEMA holiday reception day will be Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  We encourage each of you to take time to enjoy the season, share goodwill with coworkers, and spend quality time with family and friends. 
 
As the year closes, please take time to relax and recharge, and know your senior leadership team is grateful for your hard work and service.  There have been many changes at FEMA and we will face more. We are confident that together, this team will continue to improve our efforts to support and serve the public. 
 
On behalf of FEMA leadership, we thank you for your tireless dedication, and wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and joyous holiday season.
 
Warm Regards,

Craig and Joe

Application Deadline, January 6, 2014 - L337 – Web Integrated Financial Management Information System

Course: L337 - Web Integrated Financial Management Information System (WebIFMIS) 

Description: This course is intended as a comprehensive 3 -day course to teach the fundamentals of using WebIFMIS for data entry, data viewing, and reporting.  The course consists of both lecture and hands-on exercises so that participants will complete the course with the knowledge and skills needed to use the system in performing their jobs.

Dates: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 – Thursday, January 22, 2015

8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location:

Virginia Disaster Operations Center (VDOC)                                        

430 Market Street

Winchester, VA 22603

The objective of this course is for participants to learn to use the IFMIS error free; to understand several concepts including the single entry data concept; and to comprehend the goals and objectives of WebIFMIS. 

Eligibility: FEMA employees with responsibility for entering and viewing financial transactions and data in WebIFMIS.

Cost: There is no cost for the training; however, the employee’s office, directorate or region is responsible for all travel costs associated with this training.

**Note: Travel arrangements should not be made unless you have been notified of acceptance into the course.

Application: Please submit a FEMA Form 119-25-1 (General Admissions Application) to FEMA-IFMIS-Training@fema.dhs.gov

**Note: Submission of application does not constitute course registration, and accepted participants will be notified.  Participants will need to bring their FEMA issued laptops.         

Class participation is limited to 10 slots, due to training facility restrictions.

LODGING: The sending organization is responsible for all travel costs associated with this training.

** Note: Travel arrangements should not be made unless you have been notified of acceptance into course.

APPLICATION DEADLINE:

January 6, 2015

COURSE MANAGER:

Carletta Rhodes

Phone: (202)646-4532

Email: Carletta.Rhodes@fema.dhs.gov

 

 

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