Balance of family, work urgedWASHINGTON -- The...


Balance of family, work urged

WASHINGTON -- The government would have to make extensive use of programs such as day care and leave-sharing to help federal workers balance the demands of work and family under amendments sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va.

The proposed changes to the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government appropriations bill for fiscal 1992 are intended to "meet the needs of employees living in a changing society," according to a statement from Wolf.

One amendment urges that the Office of Personnel Management study how work and family employee programs, such as day care, leave-sharing, job-sharing and flextime, are being implemented throughout government.

The amendment requires that OPM develop specific proposals to make these programs more effective and more widely used. OPM Director Constance B. Newman would have eight months to recommend changes to Congress.

Incentives would be offered to federal agencies to get them to participate in these programs, to managers to promote the programs, and to federal employees to participate in them.

"There are many pro-family programs already on the books that are just not being used to the extent they should be," Wolf said. "We need to develop and improve these programs so that the federal government allows employees to balance the demands of work and family."

Other amendments, if enacted into law, would:

* Mandate a one-year extension of a pilot program allowing the use of sick leave for adoption purposes.

* Continue a pilot program that allows agencies to pay for telephone lines and other costs associated with home-based work.

* Introduce a pilot program that would allow federal employees who donate bone marrow and other organs to take up to seven days of administrative leave.

* Establish a pilot program within the Internal Revenue Service that would test the concept of an employee sharing in savings achieved through the employee's brainstorm. The savings would used for worker bonuses, to generate additional savings and to reduce the federal deficit.

"This would be a win-win program," said Wolf. "Taxpayers would get the benefit of federal budget savings without any reduction in service and federal workers would receive bonuses as an incentive for developing ideas that save the government money."

* Provide recycling incentives by allowing the General Services Administration to use money raised through such efforts for employee programs such as day care.

Failed promise:

Underfunded and lacking management support, the Federal Women's Program has "failed to live up to its promise" of helping women advance their careers, a group called Federally Employed Women Inc. charged this week.

The program, established more than 20 years ago by OPM, was supposed to provide policy-level guidance and leadership for a government-wide program. Each agency was to develop a plan of action, designate a program coordinator and submit periodic progress reports to a commission that oversees the effort.

But the program seems to be stalled, the women's organization said. More than half of the program's managers are part-time and the majority have to report to three or more levels of management before their advice reaches the top.

The group said that only seven of 17 departments and five agencies surveyed have budgets specifically targeted for women's programs.

Among its list of recommendations, Federally Employed Women wants federal departments and agencies to review blue-collar positions for physical standards in order to qualify more women; train all employees annually in prevention of sexual harassment; provide professional career counseling for women; and increase the availability of on-site day care.

The organization also wants OPM to update its handbook for the program's managers, ensure that they are recognized as management officials and evaluate the managers' effectiveness in carrying out the program's goals.

Bills delayed:

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has succeeded in delaying two bills concerning honoraria.

One of the bills is Dodd's own and would ban senators from receiving honoraria for their speeches or writings. The other measure is sponsored by Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, and would allow all career federal employees and non-career employees below the GS-16 level to accept honoraria.

Dodd's bill passed the Senate at the end of May as an amendment to the Senate campaign finance reform measure. But, apparently Dodd is worried about the reform bill's chances of becoming law.

So he got a hold placed on Glenn's bill while he considers whether to tack his measure onto it, said a spokeswoman for Dodd. Other related measures also are being considered as Dodd and his staff figure out what their next step should be, she said.

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