US federal government considers waiving incentive limits for new recruits; Canada warns officials of personal data breach: management & workforce news in brief

By on 23/11/2023 | Updated on 23/11/2023
The OPM emblem

Global Government Forum’s digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

OPM proposes giving agencies authority to waive incentive limits as part of recruitment drive

The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has proposed new regulations that would allow agencies to waive the current limits on recruitment and relocation incentives.

The changes could make it easier for federal agencies to attract prospective employees to jobs that are currently difficult to fill, as well as relieving the OPM of some of its administrative work.

At present, agencies can apply recruitment and relocation incentives up to 25% of an employee’s basic annual pay. Under the new proposal, agencies with critical hiring needs could request to double the incentives rate to 50% of an employee’s basic annual pay, though the maximum total incentives package would remain 100% of an employee’s annual basic pay over four years, the same as it stands today.

Under the plans, an official would be required to review each agency’s waiver requests.

The new regulations would also scrap the six-month minimum service period currently needed to secure incentive payment, and OPM said it would make positions such as paid internships eligible for the same incentives in a bid to make them easier to fill.

Read more: Biden warns of ‘dangers’ of removing civil service protections from US federal officials

Canadian federal government warns staff of data breach

Canadian public servants’ personal and financial information may have been accessed in a data breach on 19 October, the federal government warned employees in a statement published on 17 November.

The breach targeted data held by Brookfield Global Relocation Services (BGRS) and SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving Services, two firms used by government to provide employees with relocation support.

“Given the significant volume of data being assessed, we cannot yet identify specific individuals impacted,” the government said.

Among those informed of the breach were members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Armed Forces. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said that current and former employees who were relocated with BGRS or SIRVA Canada over the last 24 years, and whose data may have been compromised, would be provided with credit monitoring and valid passport reissuing services.

Both BGRS and SIRVA have been approached by the government to monitor the issue, and the incident has been reported to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and the RCMP.

Past and present employees have been asked to stay alert for suspicious activity on their accounts, and to update their login credentials and enable multi-factor authentication for online transactions.

Read more: Canadian government plans C$500m of in-year budget cuts

Australia’s Glyn Davis urges officials to give frank and fearless advice

Australia’s secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Glyn Davis, has urged public servants to be confident about giving honest advice in a workforce-wide message sent last week.

The message coincided with the publication of a long-awaited integrity taskforce report that was signed off in principle by the Secretaries Board in September. Entitled ‘Louder than Words: An Australian Public Service (APS) Integrity Action Plan’, the report was released in tandem with an integrity good practice guide for officials.

“Integrity is deeply important to our work in the public service. It underpins the trust of the Australian public, who rely on us to serve their interests and deliver the best outcomes for Australia,” Davis said.

“The Secretaries Board is committed to promoting a pro-integrity culture where all staff feel confident to contribute ideas, provide frank and independent advice and report mistakes. In this spirit, Secretaries Board set up the APS Integrity Taskforce,” he explained.

Read more: Australian Public Service chief promises ‘focus on integrity’

He added that the taskforce had been asked to take “a ‘bird’s-eye’ view of the APS integrity landscape, to identify gaps and look for opportunities to learn from and build upon the important work already progressing across the service”.

“The… taskforce complements the integrity pillar of the government’s APS reform agenda and the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NAAC). It is particularly pertinent in the context of the release of the government’s response to the Robodebt Royal Commission,” Davis said.

Read more: Australian government accepts Robodebt Royal Commission recommendations

New Zealand Public Service gender pay gap falls to lowest on record

The New Zealand Public Service gender pay gap has fallen to 7.1%, the lowest on record, according to the Public Service Commission.

The figure, published as part of the government’s latest workforce data, represents a 0.6 percentage point decline in the last year and a 5.1 point decline since the public service launched its gender pay gap action plan in 2018.

New Zealand’s national gender pay gap is 8.6%. It dropped by one percentage point over the same period.  

Duane Leo, national secretary for the Public Service Association (PSA) trade union, said the latest figure “shows how the public service can lead by example in closing pay gaps and promoting diversity”.  

Though not direct comparisons as New Zealand’s figures were collected more recently, the gender pay gap in the Australian Public Service was lower in 2022, at 5.2%, as was the pay gap in the US federal government’s civilian executive branch, at 5.9% in 2021. The UK civil service pay gap, however, is higher, having risen to 11.3% in 2022, an increase of more than a third on the previous year.

Read more: New Zealand Public Service gender pay gap lowest on record

Join Global Government Forum’s LinkedIn group to keep up to date with all the insight public and civil servants need to know.

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *