Groups object to new federal charity rules

The Office of Personnel Management is finalizing Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) regulations that leaders of charitable organizations fear will undermine donations from federal employees.

Office of Personnel Management headquarters. (Wikimedia Commons). Office of Personnel Management headquarters. (Wikimedia Commons).

The concerns come as the organizations are bracing for reduced donations as a result of the just concluded three-year freeze on federal basic pay rates, pay cuts to many employees because of unpaid furlough days and the resulting low morale.

CFC funnels donations from federal employees to charities. The final OPM regulations say they “are being issued in order to strengthen the integrity, streamline the operations, and increase the effectiveness of the program to ensure its continued growth and success.”

Charitable leaders, however, are convinced the new rules will make CFC less effective in growing contributions.

One new regulation, for example, “eliminates cash as a giving method.”

Thomas G. Bognanno, president and chief executive of Community Health Charities of America, said eliminating cash contributions will hurt because organizations know not to “tell the donor what to give, how to give.”

“We’re biased,” he added. “I’m dong every thing I can to keep raising money for charities.”

OPM spokesman Thomas Richards said the agency would not comment on the new rules or comment about them “since we are still in the regulatory process.”

Another rule reduces the power of CFC Local Federal Coordinating Committees (LFCCs). Proposed regulations called for the elimination of the LFCCs, but OPM backed off under intense objections from charitable groups.

They said the local component was essential in reaching out to donors.

The final rules say: “The title Local Federal Coordinating Committee (LFCC) is maintained.” But the rules “remove from the LFCC’s responsibilities the selection” of the administrator of the local campaign.

Bognanno and other charitable leaders wrote to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta asking for a meeting to discuss the changes. Referring to last July’s House hearing on CFC, the letter said: “Our concern is that OPM may soon issue new final rules, which would be a step that is totally out of sync with Congress’s request for more transparency, thoughtfulness, and expert consideration before taking such action.”

Charitable leaders said Archuleta did not respond to the letter.

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.



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