It seemed endless in 2018, the torrent of news about the White House, elections, investigations, personnel comings and goings, and more. But in the world of the federal workforce, there were just a handful of stories that truly mattered.
Will federal employees get a pay raise? Will they lose their benefits, or get an extra holiday? Will there be a government shutdown (spoiler alert) and, if so, what will happen? While the top stories centered on only a handful of issues, their impact was felt deeply by a wide swath of people, including a massive workforce and their families.
Here’s what happened in 2018 that mattered most to the Federal Times audience:
Pay raises were passed by Congress, then frozen by the president, then agreed on by Congress, then tabled and remain in limbo. Five of 2018’s 10 most-read stories centered on the fight over federal pay. Back in February we reported that President Donald Trump wanted a pay-freeze as part of broader budget-balancing plans, and the story resurfaced in late summer as he tangled with lawmakers on the Hill, who passed measures to increase pay. In December Congress tabled the argument in a bid to avoid a government shutdown, but as it turns out ...
The federal government shut down twice in 2018, after temporary agreements to fund the government expired. In January the government shut down for two days, from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, after the third continuing resolution of fiscal 2018 expired without a permanent plan. Despite ongoing squabbles over immigration legislation and health care, members of Congress and President Trump rather quickly agreed on another CR to reopen the government.
The shutdown specter returned in December as the president dug in on demands for $5 billion to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Unable to come to any agreement on Capitol Hill, the government shut down again Dec. 21. With Congress effectively adjourning for the year on Dec. 27, the shutdown is expected to continue into 2019.
Federal employee benefits are on the table. Early in the year the president signaled the possibility of making changes to federal benefits, including retirement. At least part of the reason, according to the White House, is to help balance the budget. In the spring, then-Director of the Office of Personnel Management Jeff Pon pointed to private industry’s benefits structures as a model.
Would feds get off work for Christmas Eve? Hey, it’s a valid question. A perennial one, at that.
FederalTimes.com’s top 10 stories for 2018:
Senate passes federal pay raise for 2019 Aug. 1, 2018
Trump intends to freeze federal pay for 2019 Aug. 30, 2018
Shutdown Watch: Congress moves to put feds back to work Jan. 18, 2018
Will feds get an extra day off this holiday? Nov. 28, 2018
The 3 possible fates feds face in a government shutdown Jan. 16, 2018
OPM is out to cut retirement benefits May 7, 2018