As we get closer to the end of the fiscal year and then leave year, there are some updates POPA wanted employees to be aware of. Please send us any questions via email@example.com.
IT Outages and Disruptions
Yet another weekend of IT issues. POPA is constantly raising concerns and complaints to management about the IT issues, failures and slowdowns that are disrupting employees’ work. The unreliability, and lack of compensation are leading to inefficiencies and making it impossible to get work done for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Reminder of what employees need to do if they are losing time due to these issues and wish to claim time:
- Report to your supervisor the IT issue you are having and ask for the supervisor to provide you with work to do. POPA recommends that this be done in writing so that you are creating a paper trail. Send this email to your supervisor regardless of whether they are on duty.
- Get a ticket number whether by calling the help desk, emailing the help desk or sending in a PASM ticket.
- Follow-up with an email to your supervisor asking for the time you were disrupted from doing work. This last step is important as management is reluctant to send out blanket granting of other time or docket management correction. This must be requested on a case-by-case basis.
- Some employees are being granted other time. Although it takes time to ask and document, we have to keep asking or management tells us no one requested other time.
- POPA does not have an update on the special pay rate increase. It has not yet been submitted to OPM.
- Remember that this leave year consists of 27 pay periods rather than the usual 26 pay periods. The leave year will end on January 13, 2024. Take this into consideration when calculating use/lose annual leave (you will have an additional biweek of accrued annual leave to use).
- It looks like the January 2024 pay raise will be 5.2% at this point. Of the 5.2%, 0.5% is for locality pay. This is the largest annual pay increase for federal employees since 1980. For employees on a special pay rate, if the raise results in the GS pay in your locality exceeding the special pay rate, you will receive the higher pay for your grade & step.
There has been a delay in the roll-out of TEAP employees being allowed to travel to closer federal offices to get their PIV card. The process is being tested and there should be more information in about a month.
In the meantime, do not follow the guidance given in the DOC email sent this past week entitled “Reminder: PIV Card Reissuance”. Follow USPTO direction.
If you travel without permission and travel orders to get a new badge, you are doing that as a voluntary trip and the trip will not count towards your one trip per year under the TEAP agreement and you will not receive travel time.
The agency has completed moving most employees out of Remsen and Randolph into Jefferson and Knox. Additional offices and infrastructure need to be taken care of before the Remsen and Randolph buildings are turned back over to LCOR. Access is being limited to the buildings so employees without a need to be in those buildings should not be trying to access those buildings. POPA is waiting for clarification on employees gaining entry to use the elevators and stairs down to the concourse.
Questions and answers from the CBA discussion sessions POPA held last month have been posted on www.popa.org under “CBA Negotiations”. Non-CBA related questions will be answered and posted in the “POPA Newsfeed” on the website in batches.
The POPA CBA negotiation team continues to meet with management attempting to reach agreement on proposals. No additional articles have been agreed to since the last update.
Submitting large amounts of work at the end of quarters
POPA has received many inquiries about examiners being told or hearing rumors that “end loading” will be looked at in this coming year and examiners will be rated unsatisfactory. POPA talked to Commissioner Udupa who indicated there was no such initiative. At this time, a definition of end loading has not been conveyed to POPA and we can’t have over 600 SPEs using different definitions. However, be aware that heightened review of office actions often occurs when a SPE sees “end loading.” It is not end loading itself but the heightened case review that results in scrutiny of quality and DM, which can negatively affect an examiner’s rating.
For examiners, the gainsharing award has been modified by adding a pilot to provide awards starting at 103% production. SAA and DM awards are not affected.
For FY 23, if an examiner reaches 103% production or more for the fiscal year, they will receive the award amount listed in the chart provided in the MOU.
For FY 24, there will be a pilot to look at providing awards starting at 103% production and having the award be paid out biannually instead of annually.