One group’s Flag Day wish: Flags for feds who died in the line of duty

Saturday is Flag Day, and the Federal-Postal Coalition has seized upon the annual observance to urge the Office of Personnel Management to issue final regulations for providing flags to the survivors of civil servants who lost their lives on the job.

Congress unanimously passed legislation in 2011 that authorized agencies to present U.S. flags to the beneficiaries of civilian federal workers killed in the line of duty. More than two years later, OPM still has not finalized regulations to go along with the law.


A young boy approaches a large U.S. flag placed near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where memorial services were held throughout the Memorial Day weekend, on May 24, 2014. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post )

OPM spokeswoman Brittney Manchester noted that the agency has issued guidance on the matter, adding that agencies do not have to wait for clearance of the final regulations to present flags to appropriate beneficiaries.  

Nonetheless, the Federal-Postal Coalition, which represents employees and retirees of the federal government and U.S. Postal Service, said the agency needs to finish the rule-making process.

“Members of the civilian federal and postal workforce risk their lives to carry out official duties and are critical to executing agencies’ foreign and domestic missions,” the group said in a statement on Friday. “Providing a flag recognizes these employees for their valor and dedication to their agency, and most importantly, to the people of the United States.”

The coalition said at least 20 civil servants have lost their lives at work in the past year. A few examples of such employees who died in recent years include:

* J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed during the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

* Postal Service carrier Tyson Barnette, who was fatally shot in November while delivering mail in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.

* Federal corrections officer Eric Williams, who was killed in February 2013 by a prison inmate in Pennsylvania.

Flag Day is a patriotic observance commemorating the adoption of the U.S. flag, which happened on June 14 in 1777. It is not an official federal holiday, but presidents generally issue an annual proclamation to recognize the event.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks(at)washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye and The Fed Page for more federal news. Submit news tips and suggestions to federalworker@washpost.com.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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