DoD, OPM Offer Information, Help for Displaced Employees
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2005 Defense officials vowed this week to keep DoD civilian employees affected by Hurricane Katrina as up-to-date as possible on benefits and other entitlements and to help these employees continue to contribute to the department's mission.
"Our DoD civilian employees are a valuable resource and an essential part of our total force structure," Marilee Fitzgerald, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, wrote in a Sept. 3 memo to department employees. "As we move forward to restore operations interrupted by the storm and its aftermath, we must do all that we can to assist our civilian workforce during this difficult and challenging time."
Fitzgerald encouraged maximum use of alternate worksites, telework, alternative work schedules, temporary duty at alternative work sites and other flexible work arrangements to ensure all employees can keep working following the hurricane -- for the department's good as well as their own. "As we have learned from past crises, work can be a therapeutic outlet by providing structure, consistency and camaraderie," Fitzgerald wrote.
The Defense Civilian Personnel Management Service Web site, at www.cpms.osd.mil, is being updated regularly with relevant information, as well as links to agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A fact sheet posted on the site refers employees with questions to these e-mail addresses and phone numbers:
General questions: FAS@cpms.osd.mil or (703) 696-1615; Questions about pay and allowances: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Dennis Turner at (703) 696-1284; and Questions about benefits and entitlements: benefits@email@example.com or call Johnny McLean at (703) 696-1202.
In addition, OPM announced today a new, toll-free hotline for current or retired federal employees or annuitants impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
The hotline, (800) 307-8298, will be staffed between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Central Time to answer callers' questions about health insurance, life insurance, disability issues and the status of paychecks and retiree annuity payments, OPM officials said.
They urged all current federal employees affected by the hurricane who have not yet contacted their agency to call the hotline immediately.
The OPM Web site, at www.opm.gov, also provides a page specifically for Hurricane Katrina victims and human-resources professionals handling their cases. The page provides information on benefits, such as emergency leave transfer, military leave, insurance, retirement payments and human resources flexibilities available to assist affected federal employees, OPM officials reported.
The site also offers information for employees who would like to make cash donations or volunteer their services to help the relief effort.
In addition to short-term and immediate relief efforts by the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, the 2005 Combined Federal Campaign has provided a list of national charitable organizations focused on providing disaster relief, Richard Howell, director of the Baltimore Federal Executive Board, said.