The FedUpward Podcast gives federal employees and friends of feds strategies and tips for navigating everyday problems. This is a place for federal employees to network, share ideas and get better. Don't get fed up. Get FedUpward!
info_outline OMB Personnel Getting F'd? - The Latest on Schedule F Mechanics and Why We Should All Calm Down 11/24/2020
OMB Personnel Getting F'd? - The Latest on Schedule F Mechanics and Why We Should All Calm Down Tony Vergnetti is the President and Founder of Federal Employee Defense Services, Inc. (FEDS Protection) which has provided professional liability insurance coverage to the federal government employee and contractor community since 2007. He's literally the guy we go to for legal help when we're having issues. He discussed what OMB personnel and the rest of us should be watching/doing/thinking right now as some agencies move to implement the direction laid out in the Schedule F executive order. You can read the order here: This week, Real Clear Politics published this article about a memo floating at OMB putting 88% of their personnel into schedule F. Personnel haven't been notified yet, but they're understandably concerned. To get more info about FEDS Protection, head here: FEDS Protection is a sponsor of the FedUpward Podcast. To hear the original episode on schedule F, head to episode 57 here.
info_outline The Mechanics of Blowing the Whistle - What You Need To Know 11/21/2020
The Mechanics of Blowing the Whistle - What You Need To Know The non-profit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility helps protect public employees who protect our environment, natural resources and public health. I interviewed attorney Paula Dinerstein, PEER’s Senior Counsel for 12 years, representing public employees who face interference with their work to protect the environment. Just a small sample of her enormous range of work, which has tapped into the diverse knowledge of PEER clients who are the inside experts on the work of their agencies, has established important precedents to help whistleblowers hold agencies accountable, forced the Malibu School District to clean up toxic PCBs affecting students and teachers in the classroom, gotten the EPA to adopt lead-safe practices in renovation of older homes and schools, and stopped the US Navy from doing underwater tests that were destroying the marine environment. She explains the mechanics of blowing the whistle and the boards and bodies you face to make your case if you're retaliated against.
info_outline What REALLY Happens to You When You Blow the Whistle 11/16/2020
What REALLY Happens to You When You Blow the Whistle We all HOPE we never face a situation as a federal employee that requires us to blow the whistle on behavior that is illegal or just plan wrong. But many feds do end up in that situation and have no idea where to go. The hour long yearly training most of us get doesn't explain the expense, emotional toll and time suck that these cases generally become. Jackie Garrick knows just how taxing the process has been - she recently won her case before the Merit Systems Protection Board. After all she went through, she founded Whistleblowers of America to help others. Find more info here:
info_outline Master Your Health insurance Choices - Open Season Starts Nov 9th 11/08/2020
Master Your Health insurance Choices - Open Season Starts Nov 9th Chris Kowalik knows Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and she's here to help you navigate through this year's open season, which starts November 9th and ends December 14th. Chris helps feds via courses she teaches and she trains financial planners to help folks like us, too. In this episode, she talks about how to compare plans and what you should consider before you make a change. She also discusses the number one mistake she sees in folks close to retirement. The bonus PDF for this episode was offered as a non-proprietary support document at my department. I hope you find it helpful.
info_outline A Story of Unity - REAL Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion 11/04/2020
A Story of Unity - REAL Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion A friend who works at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency reached out to me months ago about the good work her leadership was doing to promote honest conversations about diversity and inclusion. This episode should have come out MONTHS ago. But due to scheduling and technical issues, it's coming to you during election week 2020, and perhaps this message is exactly what we all need right now. In this episode, Willisa Donald discusses how her office handled diversity and inclusion before and after the executive order on training, how the DTRA director and Ms. Donald's team facilitated REAL talk around hard issues, and how you can do it in your federal agency/department, too.
info_outline We're Getting F-d? - A Discussion of the Exec Order Establishing Schedule F 10/24/2020
We're Getting F-d? - A Discussion of the Exec Order Establishing Schedule F On Oct 21, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service. As a federal employee, you should understand the implications of this order. First, read the order for yourself here: Shawn Skelly joined me to discuss the concerns fed watchers have about the order and why you should care. She served on the e Military Service, National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. She's a Navy veteran and served in the Department of Transportation and Department of Defense as a political appointee in senior executive service.Few have the public service shops Shawn has and she literally advised Congress on how to handle the future of civil service. In the interview, we mentioned statements issued by a few organizations you should be familiar with. Here are those statements:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 56: Work Smarter, Not Harder - CBO and CRS 10/20/2020
FedUpward Episode 56: Work Smarter, Not Harder - CBO and CRS IN the federal government bureaucracy, one thing is for certain - ideas get recycled ALL THE TIME. If you're given a research project, fear not. You can absolutely leverage the work of others. I'm going to explore the work of other people over the course of the next few episodes. In this episode, you'll learn the basics of the Congressional Research Service and the Congressional Budget Office. They produce TONS of reports and products you can leverage to save time and give you great overviews of just about any topic you can imagine. Here are their websites:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 55: Tracking Congressional Activity? You Need This Tool 10/15/2020
FedUpward Episode 55: Tracking Congressional Activity? You Need This Tool A few weeks ago, I saw a Tweet about a website called Cloture.app for tracking hearings held by congressional committees. Y'all - you NEED to check out this tool. It scrapes data from committee websites and compiles it all in one site that's set up as a calendar. It's easy to use and free thanks to journalist Harrison Cramer of the National Journal. During my interview with him, he ran through why he created the site and how he built it. Federal employees can absolutely take advantage of this free resource. Find the tool here: Learn more about Harrison Cramer's efforts here: or find him on Twitter @HarrisonCramer
info_outline FedUpward Episode 54: How to be an Ally for LBGTQ Feds 10/08/2020
FedUpward Episode 54: How to be an Ally for LBGTQ Feds October is LBGTQ history month and October 11th is National Coming Out Day. To recognize the contributions of LGBTQ feds and understand how inclusivity fosters a more productive environment, listen to my interview with Out in National Security's Luke Schleusener and head to Out in National Security's website here: Other helpful links Luke recommended:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 53: How To Read a USAJOBS Vacancy Announcement 10/07/2020
FedUpward Episode 53: How To Read a USAJOBS Vacancy Announcement If reading a USAJOBS vacancy announcement leaves you frustrated, you're not alone. Adele Dantzler of Dantzler Career Solutions walks us through the most important parts of the announcement and how to respond to get through the initial phases of the selection process. She has lots more to offer on her website here:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 52: The Oscars of Federal Service 10/01/2020
FedUpward Episode 52: The Oscars of Federal Service Heard about the Sammies? The Sammies, or Service to America Medals, known as the “Oscars” of government service, are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process. Named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963, these awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people. This year's presenters include Samantha Bee and Kristin Bell. The Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to help make our government more effective, and the Sammies honorees represent the many exceptional federal workers who are doing just that—breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results. Whether they’re defending the homeland, protecting the environment, ensuring public safety, making scientific and medical discoveries, or responding to natural and man-made disasters, these men and women put service before self and make a lasting difference. Samuel J. Heyman believed that “the future of our nation quite simply depends on the quality of our government.” The Sammies are the Partnership’s way of showing the world the many ways our government is making our country better, safer and stronger. You can register to stream the event on October 5th here: Info about all the Partnerships' programs can be found here: To donate, click here:
info_outline FedUpward Podcast Episode 51: Parental Leave Benefits 09/28/2020
FedUpward Podcast Episode 51: Parental Leave Benefits The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act becomes real this week but most of our agencies and departments haven't published implementing guidance and many of us don't know the key provisions of the law. Enter Government Worker (aka a fed just like us who wishes to keep his name out of the media). He publishes a blog about living frugally as a fed that you should DEFINITELY check out. Here are two links discussed in the episode: And here's the Dept of State's guidance (available online) - click the link and scroll down to paid parental leave:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 50: With RBG in mind - Leadership Council for Women in National Security 09/20/2020
FedUpward Episode 50: With RBG in mind - Leadership Council for Women in National Security The Leadership Council for Women in National Security improves national security by ensuring that women, in all their diversity, have equal space at the policy-making table. LCWINS is an organization of women and allies from across the political spectrum working to advance gender inclusion at the highest levels of the U.S. national security and foreign policy workforce. Gina talks us through the LCWINS mission and how you can get involved as a senior leader OR a future senior leader in national security.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 49: Benefit Basics - Payroll Tax Deferral, TSP, Retirement 09/15/2020
FedUpward Episode 49: Benefit Basics - Payroll Tax Deferral, TSP, Retirement Confused about the payroll tax deferral? Don't understand how FERS retirement works? Need explanations about TSP match and life insurance? Meet Brian. Brian Sigwart is a Certified financial planner with Cummins and Associates Financial Group. He focuses his practice on educating federal employees how their benefits work. He has been providing financial wellness classes for over a decade at over 25 federal agencies in the DELMARVA area.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 48: Mission is Possible - Starting your National Security Sector Career 09/12/2020
FedUpward Episode 48: Mission is Possible - Starting your National Security Sector Career Join Sasha O'Connell, a former FBI executive and director of public sector strategy at Guidehouse, and Love Rutledge of the FedUpward Podcast, along with expert guests as they discuss how young professionals and students should best position themselves for success in the National Security Sector.management and executive leadership. The Mission Is Possible podcast series offers real advice and experiences from some of the top experts in federal law enforcement. This episode is brought to you by a partnership between Guidehouse, American University School of Public Affairs and the FedUpward Podcast. The team conducted a webinar and followed up with a podcast about job hunting while faced with pandemic-related challenges. For more information about the Mission is Possible series, click here:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 47: What's in a Good Statement of Work? 09/09/2020
FedUpward Episode 47: What's in a Good Statement of Work? Need more contracting knowledge? The Pulse at Government Contracting founders Amber Hart and Lisa Shea Mundt discuss the important of a good statement of work and how we govvies can get exactly what we want out of contractors. Want more info? Check out their website: Amber Hart received her Bachelor’s in Conflict Analysis and Resolution & Global Affairs from George Mason University (GMU). A skilled Federal Business Developer, Ms. Hart has ten years’ experience in all aspects of selling to the Federal Government. She brings the critical knowledge and experience in navigating congressional and federal procurement data and sources, from legislation to appropriations and historical discretionary spending obligations, to The Pulse. Her honesty and desire to invoke federal procurement change makes her a breath of fresh air in a convoluted and cumbersome industry. Lisa Shea Mundt received both her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) from James Madison University (JMU). As a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and CF APMP, she is a coveted Proposal Consultant who applies her ten years of federal procurement experience in the formulation of strategic, comprehensive, and compelling proposals for a wide array of Government Contractors. Ms. Mundt uses her experience to help manage the strategic direction of The Pulse. She is passionate about all methods of communication, and frequently leads industry-specific training, facilitates events, and engages in public speaking.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 46: Support to Fed Parents 09/03/2020
FedUpward Episode 46: Support to Fed Parents Latika Vines gets it. She's a federal employee and mother. She saw the overwhelm and struggles of parents at work and started a side hustle helping them navigate everyday struggles. In my interview with her, she discusses her approach and advice for fed parents. She has a podcast of her own - check it out. https://anchor.fm/latika-vines The Latika Vines Show is an inspirational podcast for working moms who are overwhelmed in navigating their life and career, teaching them that it can be possible to have both a rewarding career and be a great mother. Latika and her guests share and explore the life lessons, challenges, and blessings of being a working mom and discuss immediate steps for leading and growing a career and mastering work and life balance, while putting God first. Teaching them that it is possible to do both.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 45: How to Write a Good Speech for your Boss 08/25/2020
FedUpward Episode 45: How to Write a Good Speech for your Boss Your boss asks you to write a speech for him/her on a topic in your lane. What are your first steps and what questions should you ask to ensure you're on the right track? Maria DeFazio has the answers. She wrote speeches for the highest ranking leadership at HUD and now serves as the Executive Director of the Presidential Management Alumni Association (PMAA).
info_outline FedUpward Episode 44: Need More Innovation in Your Fed Team? 08/19/2020
FedUpward Episode 44: Need More Innovation in Your Fed Team? Jen Choi and Dan Ward of MITRE explain what MITRE is (an operator of FFRDCs...and what FFRDCs are...and give us insight into the free resource they created for feds. It's a suite of tools to spark innovation - no training required. You can find them here: ITK intro video: Sample ITK tool: About MITRE:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 43: Combatting Toxic Leadership, Finding Mentors 08/13/2020
FedUpward Episode 43: Combatting Toxic Leadership, Finding Mentors Colonel Candice Frost provides advice on dealing with toxic bosses, how to manage up and keep your sanity. She's also an expert on finding mentors and providing effective mentorship. Listen to her tips here and in her new podcast, Candid Leadership at the link below. Candice truly leads by example. She's known for lifting others up, amplifying the voices of those under her command and in her circle, and always makes time to offer advice to the next generation of feds.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 42: GS Thinking About SES? Here are the downsides. 08/09/2020
FedUpward Episode 42: GS Thinking About SES? Here are the downsides. If you've ever thought about making the jump from GS to SES or you're wondering why more talented people don't consider it themselves, listen up. There are many unexpected downsides to getting promoted to the SES corps that are, frankly, counterintuitive. Our system isn't set up to financially incentivize those of us already working in high cost areas. If you're new to government service, listen up. Planning your future should include careful consideration of the issues I highlight in this episode.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 41: Contract Basics Nobody Taught You 08/05/2020
FedUpward Episode 41: Contract Basics Nobody Taught You If you work around or with contractors, there are a few basic terms and principles you should know. Most of us don't get a crash course unless we manage contracts. That's where Paul Schauer comes in. He is the co-host of the Contracting Officer's podcast. Don't be fooled by the title. This show offers tons of knowledge for newbies, as well as experienced contracting officers. Listen to his podcast on your podcast app, or find it here: h Paul worked for the Department of Defense for many years before leaving government and working for defense contractors. Now that he speaks both languages fluently, he bridges the gap between govvies and private industry professionals to ensure both make the most out of the contract experience.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 40: Feds and childcare during COVID-19 and beyond 08/01/2020
FedUpward Episode 40: Feds and childcare during COVID-19 and beyond In this solo episode, I express my personal concerns about how we're all handling the childcare and school situation over the summer and in the fall. I'm personally at a loss. How about you? And have you ever heard about the childcare subsidy some federal agencies offer? Yep, it exists. It's rare to find it and it's aimed at lower income feds who need it most. Joint the conversation with other feds in my new Facebook group called FedUpward Parents. https://www.facebook.com/groups/778086752998093/
info_outline FedUpward Episode 39: National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and What It Means to You 07/28/2020
FedUpward Episode 39: National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and What It Means to You Ever wonder if Congress cares about our struggles as feds? Listen to hear from Shawn Skelly, commissioner on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service created by Congress. The Commission's final report outlines tons of recommendations to ultimately make our lives easier and serve the public more efficiently through improved systems, structures and education. She worked hard to represent ALL public servants and ensure sound advice made its way to members of Congress. You'll notice I tried to get granular about specific HR recommendations, but Shawn deftly ensured the conversation stayed strategic and highlighted the interconnectedness of all types of government service. Final Report:
info_outline FedUpward Episode 38: Federal Education and Assistance Fund 07/23/2020
FedUpward Episode 38: Federal Education and Assistance Fund The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA) is the only independent, nonproﬁt 501c3 organization devoted solely to providing emergency ﬁnancial assistance and scholarships to our dedicated civilian federal and postal public servants and their families.Listen to learn more about what they have to offer if you're in need AND how you can help support feds in tough times. Learn more at Need masks during the pandemic?
info_outline FedUpward Episode 37: How can fed agencies recruit and support diverse talent? 07/21/2020
FedUpward Episode 37: How can fed agencies recruit and support diverse talent? Tinisha Agramonte started her career in public service as an Air Force spouse working drug demand reduction programs (or, in her words "Pee Queen") to SES as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights at Dept of Commerce. She is an eloquent advocate for first generation professionals in federal service, people like her who are the first in a family to work an office job or attend college. Many of us entering the workforce don't have insight into social norms of the workplace or resume writing if we come from a socioeconomic background devoid of examples we can follow. She created the First Generation Professionals Initiative for that group of people to ensure the nation gets the diverse, savvy, hard-working public servants it deserves, people who truly represent the full spectrum of our population. If you are curious about her work or setting up a program like this in your department or agency, listen now. I hope you have as much fun listening to this episode as I did recording it with TInisha.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 36: What makes a GOOD gov social media post? 07/16/2020
FedUpward Episode 36: What makes a GOOD gov social media post? If you've ever been asked to create social media content for your agency, this episode is for you. Here's what's probably run through your head: Who's my target audience? What's the strategy here? Is this going to sound cheesy? Will I get in trouble if I say this? I interviewed Kristy Dalton of Government Social Media to get best practices for government social media posts. Kristy created an online community for govvies working social media issues that you can join for free. https://www.governmentsocialmedia.com/
info_outline FedUpward Ep 35: Helping the Next Gen of Feds 07/09/2020
FedUpward Ep 35: Helping the Next Gen of Feds If your new to the DC area or thinking about moving here to pursue a federal career, Tommy Pevehouse is here to help. He make the move from Arkansas, full of optimism and enthusiasm, only to encounter a variety of professional obstacles. He created a resource for young feds to get help learning basic professional skills and avoid the pitfalls he experienced. And he reminds those of us with a few years under our belts that we need to support the next gen of feds in a variety of ways we might not have considered. If you get asked by friends and family how someone's child/cousin/friend can get a job with the government and how to start, DC Hopefuls, Tommy's community of newbies, is a great place to start.
info_outline FedUpward Episode 34: What is WAEPA? 07/06/2020
FedUpward Episode 34: What is WAEPA? If you're like me, you've heard the ads for WAEPA and wondered what it is and how it actually compares to FEGLI. Listen to Shane Canfield, the CEO of WAEPA, describe what it is and why you might want to run the numbers to compare WAEPA to your current insurance. This is NOT an ad. Want to learn more? https://www.waepa.org/