Monday morning items:
Washington still isn't free from the gremlins that get into - and erase - important tape-recorded conversations of high government officials. This time the bug has struck the Federal Power Commission.
FPC is one of the outfits due to be swallowed up by the proposed new Energy Department. The new super departmentis to be headed by James Schlesinger.
So, when the new energy czar came over the FPC recently, officials taped his question and answer session with the troops. Idea was to let those not present, or in the field, here the Q & A later. The problem: The original Schlesinger tape has several gaps in it. Employees can hear his sometimes length answers, but don't know what the question is. Some people say it reminds them of the overall theme of the reorganization, answers in search of a question.
Either government workers are getting sicker, more often or their insurance companies are getting less efficient. Or both.
Many workers report long, long delays in processing supplemental claims by their health insurance carriers. One man asked his government-sponsored insurance company if it could check to see if it even had his claim? The woman on the other end of the telephone said it would take a week to check if he really wanted it done. He called back in a few minutes and was told that there were new problems and the check would take anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks. He's afraid to try again.
Insurance companies say the cold winter brought out an unusual number of claims. Also many federal workers wait until the end of the year to make claims, hence the backlog. Whatever the reasons many doctor bills are long overdue; trouble lines to insurance companies are busy and a progress check now takes as long as it once took to process a claim.
Government job hunters are happily paying two private employment information services for up-to-the minute listings of government vacancies. The services are so up-to-date that some federal agencies are using them to find out what is going on within their own agencies.
Both cost $18 for three months (6 newsletters), with longer term rates available. Information telephone numbers for the highly competitive, informative newsletters, are: Federal Research Service, 703 - 281-5404, or Federal Job Letter, 703 - 471-1417.
Electronic transfer of funds is the wave of the future, computer-lovers say. The ETF will eliminate pay checks and other items from the mail by transferring funds directly to banks, but it still has some bugs.
Many Washington area federal retirees - whose checks are sent via ELF directly to the bank - didn't get the 4.8 per cent cost of living raise last week that went to other retirees. They got their regular monthly annuities credited to their accounts, but not the 4.8 per cent COL boost. Retirees who got checks at home by mail got the 4.8 per cent increase. Officials are checking a Chicago-based federal computer to see what went wrong. The retirees who didn't get the 4.8 per cent boost last week will get it eventually.
Dues Checkoff Discrimination? National Federation of Federal Employees president James Pierce says recreation associates, professional groups and women's organizations are getting special financial privileges from Uncle Sam. The government recently relaxed rules permitting non-union organizations to apply for dues checkoff privileges for members. Pierce says the government makes unions conform to tough rules before it will even talk checkoff, but now plans to let non-union walk in and benefit fromthe guaranteed cash flow.