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Guideline Guidance

By Mike Causey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 9, 1997; Page B02

The task of tracking, deciphering and interpreting civil service laws and regulations has become so complex that a number of private-sector businesses now specialize in providing information on everything from legislation to benefits and job openings to federal employees, would-be feds and government agencies.

On Sunday, we ran a listing of free publications and guides (complete with phone numbers and Web site addresses) available from the Office of Personnel Management to workers, job hunters and potential retirees. Today, a look at what the private sector is offering, free and otherwise:

Government Retirement Benefits Inc. is an Alexandria-based company (703-461-9100) that specializes in training federal agency personnel -- from Washington to Alaska -- on the government benefits package. Joseph Richardson is its chief training officer. The company also sells a number of publications relating to the federal retirement plans.

FPMI Communications, based in Huntsville, Ala., (205-539-1850) conducts seminars and provides specialized videos and newsletters to rank-and-file feds, supervisors and managers.

The Federal Research Service, of Vienna, (703-281-0200) publishes a regular newsletter chock-full of the latest government job openings worldwide. Many federal agencies use the service, headed by Judy McArdle, to check out the job market in sister agencies. Its Web site is at http://www.fedjobs.com.

The long-running Federal Employees News Digest, based in Reston, (703-648-9551) produces a weekly newsletter, a special almanac and various publications aimed at feds. It offers workers a free pamphlet, "42 Valuable Benefits," with tips on retirement, insurance and survivor benefits.

FEDweek, a free new e-mail newsletter on federal pay and benefits run by Don Mace (formerly of Federal Employees News Digest and the Federal Times newspaper), is distributed weekly by e-mail. Sign up at http://www.fedweek.com. FEDweek also is selling "The Retirement Planning Guide for Federal Employees." The book covers both the old and new retirement systems. It's available for $9.95 (plus $3 for mailing) from FEDweek, P.O. Box 16415, Alexandria, Va. 22302.

The Federal Personnel Guide, now in its 19th year, is published in Bethesda (301-656-0450). It is a handbook covering basic job rules and rights, pay and retirement calculation tables and general information about civil service.

The well-known weekly tabloid Federal Times, published in Springfield, carries spot news, features and listings of job openings and events aimed at federal and postal workers. The paper, published by Army Times Co. (703-750-9000), also has a Web site at http://www.federaltimes.com where feds can browse for news.

Finally, the contents of The Washington Post -- including this column and the Federal Report -- are available online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/fedcomm.htm.

Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Co.

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