If you are just coming off a lengthy vacation, be advised that August wasn't all that dull a month on the federal beat.
For example, while you were gone:
*Congress approved a budget calling for no pay raise next year for white-collar federal workers.
President Reagan followed it up with an order putting a hold on raises until January 1987. At that time, feds are expected to get a 3.8 percent increase.
*The compromise congressional budget makes no change in federal retirement rules.
That means employes can still retire at age 55 after 30 years service on unreduced annuities.
*Federal pension benefits are not affected by the freeze. Retirees will get a cost-of-living-adjustment (of about 3 percent or more) in January.
The exact amount of the COLA will be announced this fall.
*Premium rebates for workers and retirees enrolled in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield health plan could be delayed.
Reason: a group of former policyholders has filed a lawsuit arguing that people enrolled in the program in 1983 and 1984 should also get refunds.
*The five-year back-pay battle between senior government executives and the government has been settled.
Back pay, up to $5,200, has been approved for most people who served in the Senior Executive Service between October 1979 and October 1981.
The $31.5 million settlement, representing raises Congress denied SES members, has been approved for persons who were in Pay Levels 4 through 6.
Still to be decided is whether persons in Pay Levels 1 through 3 will get any back pay.
SES members -- both current and retired -- will be contacted by letter in mid-September and asked to sign and return verification forms.
If you don't get a letter and think you may be eligible for back pay, write: SES Back Pay, P.O. Box 14047, Washington, D.C. 20044.
*The pay freeze does not cover postal workers, whose increases are guaranteed by union contract.
*Despite the freeze, about 40 percent of the federal work force will still be eligible for regular within-grade (longevity) pay raises next year.
The increases, worth about 3 percent, are based on length of service and the employe's performance rating.
Congress toyed with the idea of delaying all the raises for one year, but dropped it from the compromise budget.
*The 115,000 managers and supervisors under merit pay will also be eligible for longevity raises, and for merit pay increases ranging from 2 percent to 10 percent. The freeze order does not ban those increases.
*Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has introduced legislation that would set up a new retirement system for employes hired since January 1984. Under the plan the government would make all contributions to a modified basic civil service retirement plan.
The age for retiring on full benefits would be raised to 62. Employes could elect to participate in a "thrift plan" that would shelter a portion of their income from federal taxes. Under the proposal, workers could put up to 10 percent of their salary into the investment program, and the government would put in up to 5 percent of salary.
Employes under the current civil service retirement system could remain in it, with benefits and retirement age eligibility unchanged, or could transfer over to the new system.