Biden confirms US federal pay rise; Japan to eject obsolete floppy disk from government: management & workforce news in brief

By on 08/09/2022 | Updated on 08/09/2022
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Global Government Forum’s weekly digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Biden confirms US federal pay rise

President Joe Biden has confirmed that US federal government officials will receive an average 4.6% pay rise in 2023 to help tackle “growing recruitment and retention challenges”.

Confirming the increase to congressional leaders, Biden said that the pay rise – which he first proposed in February and is the largest for 20 years – was needed because federal wages had been eroded.

“Multiple years of lower pay raises for federal civilian employees than called for under regular law have resulted in a substantial pay gap for federal employees compared to the private sector,” he said. “The American people rely on federal agencies being managed and staffed by skilled, talented, and engaged employees, including those possessing critical skills sets, which requires keeping federal pay competitive.”

Read more: Biden to propose the highest pay rise for US feds in 20 years, at 4.6%

Driven out: Japan to eject obsolete floppy disk from government

The Japanese government has pledged to update its technology – including ending the use of floppy disk drives – as part of an effort to improve efficiency.

Many government services still require businesses and citizens to provide data on floppy disks, but government digital minister Taro Kono has declared war on the practice.

In a statement on Twitter, he said: “There are about 1,900 government procedures that requires business community to use discs, i.e. floppy disc, CD, MD [minidisks] etc to submit applications and other forms.”

The older hardware is used to keep data for a host of administrative procedures in Japan but Kono said these would be updated by the government’s digital agency to allow for applications to be made online.

“We will be reviewing these practices swiftly”, Kono told a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, as reported by Sky News.

“Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?” he joked.

Read more: Japan launches digital agency

Register now: Canadian government CIO to address AccelerateGov digital transformation conference in Ottawa

Australian National Emergency Management Agency formed ‘to boost national leadership in resilience and recovery’

Australia’s new National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was officially formed on 1 September, to strengthen the country’s response to and recovery from disasters like floods and fires.

The new agency combines the efforts of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and Emergency Management Australia into a single body intended to improve preparation for future disasters and the response to emergencies, and to help communities recover.

Murray Watt, the minister for emergency management said combining the functions of the disaster response and recovery agencies would provide end-to-end support.

“NEMA will also drive long-term resilience and preparedness, which is increasingly important in the face of longer and more intense natural disasters due to climate change,” Watt said.

In particular, the agency is intended to give national leadership to emergency management efforts, sharing knowledge, awareness, and trends in order to help shape the response at national, state and local government level. The government estimates that disasters cost Australia AUS$38bn (US$25.6bn) per year on average, with the cost estimated to reach at least AUS$73bn (US$49.2bn) by 2060 due to the impact of climate change.

Read more: Government reform on the cards in Australia after revelations that ex-PM gave himself additional powers in secret

Jacob Rees-Mogg axes ‘woke’ training courses for UK officials

In one of his final acts as the minister responsible for the UK civil service, Jacob Rees-Mogg has ordered that a number of training courses be axed to tackle what he called the “indoctrination” in Whitehall.

According to a report, Rees-Mogg has axed 265 of 441 wellness, inclusion and diversity training courses available to civil servants in the Cabinet Office, and had also written to other ministers urging them to do likewise.

Although many of the courses were focused on personal or managerial development, with titles like ‘Find Your Mojo’, ‘Give Me Strength’ and ‘Buddy to Boss’, Rees-Mogg – who has since been promoted to business secretary by new prime minister Liz Truss – told The Telegraph newspaper: “We cannot make taxpayers pay for civil servants to take courses with names like ‘Find Your Mojo’, ‘Buddy to Boss’ or ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’.

“Courses like this are being scrapped so that civil servants can develop genuinely useful skills instead of being indoctrinated in the divisive ideological agendas that have permeated some of these courses.”

This is the latest in a number of actions taken by Rees-Mogg to change civil service working arrangements. He also launched a review of ‘flexitime’ arrangements that allow civil servants to work irregular hours of their choosing, with many opting to work from home full-time. He criticised what he called a “culture of wastefulness” perpetuated by officials’ aversion to office work, adding that working in the same spaces as colleagues would mean “more job satisfaction for civil servants”.

Read more: UK government to sell state property as Ress-Mogg reiterates plan to move officials out of London

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About Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone is the executive editor of Global Government Forum, where he helps to produce editorial analysis and insight for the title’s audience of public servants around the world. Before joining GGF, he spent nearly five years at UK-based title Civil Service World, latterly as acting editor, and has worked in public policy journalism throughout his career.

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